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[1] who is telly's voice here? it doesnt sound like bob, brian, or marty. help? thanks -- Hairsprayman111 13:54, May 9, 2010 (UTC)

It seems to me that that this could be from the episode that Brian mentions in his e-mail responds to Andrew further down on this page. Henrik (talk) 17:35, May 9, 2010 (UTC)
It sounds like Brian Meehl's Telly to me. --Minor muppetz 23:23, May 9, 2010 (UTC)

Brian Muehl & Bob Payne


This was discussed below in March 08, but it wasn't really resolved. Austin posted this information on Muppet Central, based on a conversation with Marty Robinson:

I had e-mailed Marty Robinson, Telly's performer, with the same question. He said that when he began as Telly, he started with his right hand and then moved on to full performance of him in "Follow That Bird"... He also stated that Telly's first performer was Bob Payne, not Brian Meuhl. Though, Marty was unsure of which character phase Telly was in during the switch of performers. He said that everything on Muppet Wiki (aside from the performers) is correct and that is the best place to go for info like that.

That information has implications for a few different pages -- this one, Bob Payne's, and Brian Muehl's. The Brian Muehl page says that Muehl "originated" the character of Telly. Telly first appeared in 1979, and the page currently says that Muehl played him from 1979-1984. There are a few ways that I can interpret Austin's comment above:

  1. Bob Payne played Telly first, then passed him to Muehl. This could have been anything from playing him in his first appearance to playing him for a year.
  2. Bob Payne played Telly from 1979-1984, and the information that we have about Muehl is incorrect.
  3. Marty Robinson's memory is incorrect. (Not necessarily likely, but a possibility.)

So -- what's our source on Brian Muehl playing Telly? I think that would help to clear this up. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 18:52, October 19, 2009 (UTC)

I know that Meehl played Telly as early as 1980, as can be seen in Episode 1446. -- MuppetDude 19:08, October 19, 2009 (UTC)
Sesame Street Unpaved and Street Gang both mention that Brian Meehl performed Telly. I'm using the library computer right now so I can't check for pages, but in Unpaved the fact about Brian Meehl "originating" Telly was on the bio page for Kevin Clash, which mentions Telly among other characters Meehl performed besides Elmo. --Minor muppetz 19:31, October 19, 2009 (UTC)
Number 2 is definitely not the case. It's widely sourced that Muehl played Telly, which he did originally in Big Bird in China even (when he doubled as Barkley), from vintage newspaper articles to his own website bio: "Joining “Sesame Street” as Barkley, the big sheepdog, I was soon doing various Muppet characters, including Telly Monster, Grungetta, and the first attempt at Elmo." I'll go through and check but I have a vague notion even some of the 1980s CTW archive credits we've gathered mention Muehl as Tlely, but I know absolutely none mention Payne (who wasn't even credited as a puppeteer on the show for much of that time, though he was listed as a puppetbuilder so they may have simply not bothered to bill him twice). The only thing not specifically stated anywhere is how long he played the role. He seems to have been the primary performer, so my own guess would be that Payne could have done anything from a first appearance to even spieling somewhere in the middle. Our sole source for Payne is Austin's query, and he states that "Marty was unsure of which character phase Telly was in during the switch of performers." That makes it sounde like he couldn't remember if he took over from Payne or Muehl, he just knew for certain that Payne was first. The Street Gang mention os on page 245, which mentions that Muehl performed Telly as "a gruff-dounding obsessive worrier." It then segues to Robinson talking about taking over the role in 1984. We all know the original Telly, from the script, was a TV freak, so it seems plausible, but not definite, that Payne played the role in that first appearance and perhaps a few, then Muehl during the following years, then Robinson. Lacking anything to pindown with dates but definite proof that Muehl played Telly for multiple seasons, I'd suggest noting that Payne played the role first without specifying how long, citing Austin's correspondence, and in parentheses for Muhel use "1980s" or something, which is true and confirmable, until we can pin down an exact span. We could also e-mail Muehl (or Meehl; he legally changed his name spelling so people would stop mispronouncing it). In fact, I plan to do just that, then we can weigh in his memories into the proceedings. It would be nice if he can give us a hard "Payne played him for blank and I played him for blank" but that can be difficult, even when you were there, 30 years later. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 19:54, October 19, 2009 (UTC)
I just uploaded the 1983 season Muppeteer list, at top, as further Muehl proof. I'm finding the scans of earlier seasons (1974, 1977) but nothing for 1979-1982. Can you check when you get a chance, Danny? I know that's a ton of work, I'm not sure you even made copies of them, and I think the archive itself was missing a year or two. But those are actually better at this point than even Muppeteer's memories as far as exact dates. I know you had some info from the 12th season (1980-1981) which promoted Telly as a new character. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 20:18, October 19, 2009 (UTC)
Sure! I'll take a look when I'm home and can look at my files. The stuff that I found in the archives is kind of random -- I don't know if I have a cast list like that for each season. But I'll see what I can find! -- Danny@fandom (talk) 22:03, October 19, 2009 (UTC)
I know from my own visit with you that each season that they had materials for had such a list, with varying details. I'm just not sure if you scanned or looked at them all (they were text packets with no pictures), and I think at least one significant year from the covered span (1979 maybe?) seemed to be more or less missing entirely. I think I looked at a couple in the middle but saw no major changes or additions that we didn't know about so I noted anything in a notebook rather than handing to you to copy (and I lost the notebook at a train station on the way back, so whoops!) I can swear that none said anything about Payne as Telly and that multiple seasons mentioned Muehl as Telly. Right now we have definite proof that Muehl was the one Robinson took over from, and that he was playing him in the middle and Tony pinpointed that 1980 appearance, so it really seems to imply that at the very most Payne played Telly for a season. I do know you scanned the Telly debut script so we have that somewhere. No cast info but it might have a date and even the episode number would help. I'm just theorizing, but I'm thinking maybe original Telly the TV Monster debuted in 1979, perhaps in the middle of the season, and then (perhaps based on testing results and kid reactions?) was rebuilt and relaunched/promoted as a "new" character for the 1980 season, with a new performer. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 22:13, October 19, 2009 (UTC)

From the November 1980 CTW Newsletter (issue #48).

Well, this is what I've got...

  • The script excerpts for Telly's first appearance are all scanned and posted below. It's from a January 1979 memo where they're trying to figure out how to use this new (and sort of unpleasant) character. It suggests that Telly was introduced in episode 1257, which was filmed in Jan 79, as part of Season 10.
  • Press info for 1974 (Season 6). Puppeteers listed are Jim Henson, Caroll Spinney, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt and Frank Oz, with mention of Kermit Love as a Muppet builder.
  • Press info for 1977 (Season 9). It lists the puppeteers as Jim Henson, Caroll Spinney, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Frank Oz and Peter Friedman.
  • The CTW Newsletter #48 (November, 1980) talks about characters debuting in Season 12, including "the Telly Monster, a persistent worrier in constant need of reassurance." The use of "the Telly Monster" is a little odd, but otherwise, the character looks and is described as we know him today.
  • Press info for 1983 (Season 15). That's the scan that you posted at the top of this page, with Henson, Robinson, Oz, Spinney, Nelson, Hunt and Muehl -- with Muehl listed as Telly's performer.
  • Press info for 1984 (Season 16). No bio section.

So that's all the relevant things I have from the archives. I can't find anything that mentions Bob Payne as a puppeteer. Right now, we list Payne as the puppeteer for Mary Rhymie and Zebediah; I don't know if those have outside sources or are just based on people recognizing his voice.

So what we have to support Payne as Telly's original performer is a secondhand report from Austin. This is no offense to Austin; it just happens to be the case that we don't have a direct quote from Robinson about it. Can we find any more direct evidence? -- Danny@fandom (talk) 04:17, October 20, 2009 (UTC)

Tony added Payne's other credits based on voice recognition (I know I wouldn't try on that score) and some later home video stuff credits him in a bulk "sketch performers" list (and also Jane Henson and other folks who were unbilled at the time but perform in specific skits on a given release). I'm going to e-mail Brian Meehl (as he goes by these days; he's writing children's books now, including one involving toilets and a cursed plunger) to see what he says. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 05:44, October 20, 2009 (UTC)
I suspect that Robinson not remembering which "character phase" Telly was in during the switch of performers meant he couldn't remember which personality he had. Oh, and Martin Robinson does have a blog if we want to contact him about it. --Minor muppetz 18:55, October 20, 2009 (UTC)
How do you know this? Plus, do you know when Episode 1257 (Telly's first app.) aired? -- Jesse (talk) 22:27, October 20, 2009 (UTC)
I went to the CTW archives at the University of Maryland, and found some files about Telly's debut. I posted it below, under Telly's debut, so go take a look!
I know that Episode 1257 was sometime in Season 10, which went from episode 1186 to 1315. I've got some info going up to episode 1255, which I also just sent to Tony... Nothing on 1257, unfortunately. -- Danny@fandom (talk) 22:40, October 20, 2009 (UTC)

Okay, I heard back from Brian Muehl/Meehl, a very nice response which confirms two things: Bob Payne was the first Telly, so we should add that here, but our date range is still correct (the only correction we have to make is about Muehl originating the role), he recalls having played the role from Season 11 (1979-1980) to Season 15 (1983-1984), which tallies with everything else. I'll quote from his response in a bit, since it sheds further light on Telly's character development and how he happened to get the role (which was fairly casual, not unlike the infamous Richard Hunt Elmo toss). -- Andrew Leal (talk) 19:05, October 21, 2009 (UTC)

Cool. I've got an episode guide from season 10 that mentions Telly (it's among the #1270s show, after the character was introduced) in one of the plots. So according to your info, Bob Payne would've performed him more than once, right? -- MuppetDude 19:09, October 21, 2009 (UTC)
If it's still the TV Monster Telly, almost definitely. However, I learned that after they reworked the puppet (which seemed to happen pretty quickly), he become a generic background monster for the rest of the season, during which time he could have been played by anyone. That info would seem to finally explain an oddity: the use of the early Telly puppet, sans crazy eyes, as The Two-Headed Monster's Mother. Full quotes in just a couple minutes! (I took a Wiki break for lunch). If you can share your episode guide info later, Tony, amongst that, the script scans, and Brian Meehl's answers, I think we can finally put together the early Telly story (and add in stuff from Street Gang to cover Robinson taking over the role and the character's further development from that point). -- Andrew Leal (talk) 19:31, October 21, 2009 (UTC)
The only thing I found on Telly so far in my guides is from show #1277, where it reads, "Telly Monster, Bob, and some children exercise." -- MuppetDude 19:36, October 21, 2009 (UTC)

Okay, here it is. Response to e-mail to Brian Meehl (through the address on his official site), sent on Monday and received two hours ago:

Yes, the first, and very brief Telly Monster was Bob Paine. The writers had conceived "Telly Monster" as a monster obsessed with television who sat glued close to a TV screen and kept saying, "I'm glued." He even had pinwheel eyes that would spin, giving him the appearance of being crazy and zonked out on TV. I remember seeing one scene being shot in the courtyard and people were already realizing what a "monster" had been created. This was NOT good role modeling for children. I'm not sure if the segment was ever even aired. Telly was stripped of his crazy eyes and briefly became a generic monster to be used in Muppet insert monster scenes.
Then one day, Caroll Spinny fell off his bike riding to work and sprained his ankle. The Big Bird show he was supposed tape that morning got quickly rewritten for Telly Monster, I came up with a voice and tude, and the rest is history. And, NO, the "understudy" did not push Caroll off his bike. I did Telly for about five seasons (11-15) I believe, and then Marty Robinson replaced me when I went cold turkey on the Muppets.
I have a vague notion I may have read or heard elements of the ankle story somewhere else (Spinney's book? An interview?) but I'm not sure. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 19:42, October 21, 2009 (UTC)

They mention it in Street Gang, although it just said Caroll was sick. By the way, thanks for answering my questions, Danny!
Oh, by the way, according to The TV IV (while not the best source), it says that Episode 1257 aired March 6, 1979. ---- Jesse (talk) 20:14, October 21, 2009 (UTC)
I know we already got the email from Brian, but I just thought I'd mention that the new book also cites Bobby Payne as the original performer and builder of the antennae Telly on page 92. Plus a great quote "Oh my God, this is the worst role model in the world." —Scott (talk) 04:56, October 25, 2009 (UTC)
It's interesting that after Telly's eyes were changed and he went from being a generic monster to having another personality that they conbtinued to call him Telly, as opposed to changing the name. --Minor muppetz 19:12, October 25, 2009 (UTC)

performer again

Austin just added Bob Payne to the performer box with an unknown date. Is there a source for Payne as Telly's performer? —Scott (talk) 16:06, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

It's based on this post he made on MC. --MuppetVJ 17:12, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
I trust that. I know Austin's been in touch with those folks. Since we don't have any details about when Payne performed the character, I'll add a casting history section to the article to fall in line with our policy that the performer box is only used for main performers. —Scott (talk) 18:02, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Wow, you guys are good. Yes, I had been speaking with Marty Robinson this week. He pointed that out and I just thought I'd add it here. If you like, I can ask him when Payne performed him so we can add it here officially. Austinmuppet 23:14, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
That would be great! —Scott (talk) 02:44, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Performer Box

User:Wile e2005 just removed Brian Muehl from the performer box, citing Elmo as the sole justification. While I think an argument could be made, I don't think that's reason enough on its own, and it bears discussing first. Our general rule of thumb is to use single performers if one performer primarily shaped the character, and either prior or subsequent portrayals by other puppeteers have been brief (one year or less, one or two one-shots, etc.). Elmo fits that category, since prior to Kevin Clash he went through multiple performers, and early on had no clear identity. In the case of Telly, Muehl was the first puppeteer to play the role, sole performer for five years, and also played the part in specials like Don't Eat the Pictures and Big Bird in China. On the other hand, Martin P. Robinson has now played the role for over 23 years. So, thoughts? Dual performer box as is, or just Robinson, and a casting history note for Muehl? -- Andrew Leal (talk) 00:22, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

As much as Telly has been Robinson's character for so long, Muehl did originate the character and perform him as a main character for a good chunk of time as you pointed out. Telly's performer history isn't varied like Elmo's and the box should remain with dual credit. —Scott (talk) 00:50, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Right. Plus, Telly was established as a fairly major character from the beginning (whereas even when Elmo became Elmo, prior to Clash, we've had difficulty finding very many major appearances or plots involving him), and as the article notes, Robinson's portrayal initially matched Muehl's. He's expanded since then, but it's not quite on the same level as Kevin Clash, who by just about all accounts pretty much defined Elmo as we know him today. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 01:00, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Telly's Town


This logo found on YouTube (dead link) precedes this clip (dead link) of Fur Jam. Was this a recurring segment? —Scott (talk) 17:38, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

According to the description on that clip, it was a one-time "Wayne's World" spoof, and that seems to tally with the message board chatter and the like. According to episode numbers added by less then reliable contributors, it's allegedly in Episode 3632 -- Andrew Leal (talk) 17:43, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Damn, I missed it. Which link says there was only one made? —Scott (talk) 17:51, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
The text you got the logo from: "One Sesame Street show did a 'Wayne's World' spoof called "Telly's Town", with Telly monster and Big Bird doing Wayne and Garth on the street between clips. Big Bird even played some drums! "Wayne" appears as a tuba deliveryman... I think this is mid 90's, they had a LOT of great guest stars then!" So it was just used to frame those street scenes, not to imply a recurring element (as often happened, like one episode which had a "Good Morning, Sesame" format). -- Andrew Leal (talk) 17:57, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
I suppose that does make it unlikely, although not impossible. I had hopes of a whole series of Big Bird and Telly hangin' out saying "excellent" with that Wayne and Garth twang. —Scott (talk) 18:14, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
That, and the fact that both clips you link to were uploaded by the same user, so presumably, same episode. -- Andrew Leal (talk) 18:15, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

Telly's debut

I have read that Telly first appeared on the show in 1979. Though it doesn't say that here (except for in the performer box), I would like to know if there is an official source. I have read about him debuting in 1979 at a few websites that don't cite sources. The booklet that came with Songs from the Street incorrectly says that he and Elmo debuted in 1984, but we all know that's wrong (they were both in the 1981 book The Sesame Street Circus of Opposites), but I haven't seen any official sources from Sesame Workshop that list his debut. --Minor muppetz 21:18, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, it was 1979 -- I have the following that we found at the CTW archives. This is a script for episode 1257, Telly's debut, which was filmed in January 1979. The memos that go with it indicate that this isn't necessarily the episode as it was broadcast, and we shouldn't use this as the basis for an episode guide for that episode. But it does provide insights into Telly's debut. You can click on the images for a readable version... -- Danny (talk) 22:44, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

That scipt is cool. It's great to see how an average Sesame Street script is written, as well as how inserts are put in a script. I guess the numbers in parenthesis next to the sketch "titles" (if the titles should be considered official) are meant to be the first appearances of those skits. --Minor muppetz 22:01, 12 March 2007 (UTC)
Should we create a page for 1257, as other episodes (1405, 1966, 2731, etc.) only have one segment, and Episode 1966 doesn't even have any segments, just a trivia note about its disinclusion from Sesame Street Unpaved. Just figuring because we already have a street scene from it, as well as this script, so should we create one, compared to the one-insert episode summaries I just listed? ---- Jesse (talk) 03:09, November 30, 2009 (UTC)
No, I don't think we should. The episode numbers on scripts usually aren't the final ones used. For example, Mo William's script for Episode 3927 is labeled as episode 3949, and as seen in the new 40 Years book, Joey Mazzarino's script for Episode 4136 lists the final number, but a note next to it claims it was previously #4160. - Oscarfan 03:13, November 30, 2009 (UTC)
So, are you saying 1257 may not be Telly's actual debut? ---- Jesse (talk) 03:17, November 30, 2009 (UTC)

It may or it may not be (depending on the draft of the script), but in this case, it's best not to assume. Danny even mentioned above that notes on the script indicate that may not be the official air date number. - Oscarfan 03:19, November 30, 2009 (UTC)

The memos that go with it indicate that this isn't necessarily the episode as it was broadcast, and we shouldn't use this as the basis for an episode guide for that episode.
Whoops, must've missed that... ---- Jesse (talk) 03:23, November 30, 2009 (UTC)
Well, episode 1257 is now available on iTunes. I haven't downloaded it yet, but it is Telly's debut. One of us can finally make a page for it! --Minor muppetz 18:59, July 11, 2011 (UTC)

As The Television Monster

We certainly need a picture of Telly as the Television Monster. What I'd like to know is if anyone has checked issues of Sesame Street Magazine from that time for an illustration at least. -- Hilleyb 16:56, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, it seems rare to fidn such pictures. Sesame Street Unpaved even mentions his origins but doens't bother to show a picture. --Minor muppetz 21:18, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Telly being retarded

Although it may only be a rumor, might it not be better to have rumors placed on the main page of applicable characters? I think it might make for a more interesting read. --Draw a Triangle 23:27, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Well, having it on the page is actually a way of spreading the rumor. Personally, I've never heard anybody say that about Telly. If you have a written source for the information, then it might be more appropriate for the page. -- Danny (talk) 03:29, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Nothing comes up under "telly monster retarded sesame" on Google. -- Zanimum 19:53, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, this is a dead issue. Mirella turned out to be a very unreliable contributor. -- Danny (talk) 22:56, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Just realising how old this was, and remembering her edits to the Yip Yip page. -- Zanimum 14:23, 31 July 2006 (UTC)


I removed the following passage because it seemed too subjective. Also, if I recall, Telly's relationship with Oscar spanned both Muppeteers' custodianship of the character.

"During the years that Brian Muehl performed Telly, he was somewhat subservient to Oscar, and didn't have a whole lot of dimension, until Marty Robinson took over the role."
Of course, it might be a good idea to mention how Telly thought of himself as oscar's best friend, even though Oscar didn't feel the same way about Telly. --Minor muppetz 20:31, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
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