‘Sesame Street’ gets in on Oscar mania with ‘Big Birdman’ spoof

Caroll Spinney
Caroll Spinney has been the puppeteer and voice behind Big Bird on “Sesame Street” for more than 40 years.
(Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

Leave it to “Sesame Street” to swoop in with the cleverest spoof of award season.

With just days to go until the Oscars, the beloved children’s TV show has given us “Big Birdman,” a gentle but dead-on parody of Alejandro G. Inarritu’s black comedy “Birdman.”

The minute-and-a-half video, which you can watch below, swaps out Michael Keaton’s tormented ex-superhero-actor Riggan Thomson with Caroll Spinney, the octogenarian puppeteer who has played Big Bird (and Oscar the Grouch) since 1969.

FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2015


The video opens with Spinney in his dressing room, wondering to himself, “How did we get here?” A percussive jazz score kicks in, and then another voice is heard: Big Bird.

“This place is crawling with monsters,” the nasally voice says. “It smells like birdseed.”

As Spinney grapples with his avian alter ego, “Big Birdman” nods to key moments from Inarritu’s film and faithfully reproduces its invisible editing aesthetic. To say more would risk spoiling it.

Spinney, by the way, is no stranger to the movies: He’s the subject of the documentary “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story,” which is making the rounds at festivals and special screenings.


Follow @ogettell for movie news

Get our weekly Indie Focus newsletter