Count von Count
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|Count von Count|
|Sesame Street character|
|First appearance||November 27, 1972|
|Portrayed by||Jerry Nelson (1972–2012)
Matt Vogel (2013–present)
Count von Count, often known simply as "the Count", is one of the Muppet characters on Sesame Street, performed by Jerry Nelson until his death in August 2012. The Count is a vampire modeled after Bela Lugosi's interpretation of Count Dracula.
The Count's main purpose is educating children on simple mathematical concepts, most notably counting. The Count has a love of counting; he will count anything and everything, regardless of size, amount, weird choices he makes or how much annoyance he is causing the other Muppets or human cast. For instance, he once prevented Ernie from answering a telephone because he wanted to continue counting the number of rings. Another time, while serving as an elevator operator, he refused to let Kermit the Frog get out at his selected floor so he could count on every floor in the building. Another time he decides to have a sleepover at his good friends Bert and Ernie's basement apartment home; Bert gives Count his bed next to Ernie for the night; but when Count is unable to sleep Ernie suggests that he counts sheep but this ends up causing the Count's fun to get so loud that his counting sheep game while keeping Ernie up at night, ends up lasting until the next morning. When Bert wakes up to greet Count he says he had a blast with Ernie and asks for another sleepover but Bert is frightened when he sees an extremely tired unrested Ernie who is counting sheep to get rest but is acting like a mummy or crazy guy in the process.
The Count also will give anything to count; for example in one episode Guy Smiley tells the Count that if he accomplishes a deemed impossible task to bring two things down from the sky in 20 seconds he will win his heart's desire. The Count counts down the seconds of the time much to Guy's frustration until the Count's thunder and lightning comes thus winning the Count his heart's desire. When offered such rewards of a trip to Florida, or a million dollar fortune the Count chooses to ask for another 20 seconds that he can count.
The Count is very goofy, funny and friendly but can lose his temper or show displeasure for interruptions of counting; for example he once got upset with Cookie Monster because Cookie wanted to eat the apples that the Count wanted to count. The next time he saw Cookie Monster he was forced to let Cookie eat the apples after he counted them to prevent arguments. Another time when he has nothing to count he gets sad and almost cries until he finds an idea of counting his feelings inside of him thus making him happy again. Also in his early appearances for the first two years his old skit involved him appearing spooky, easily angered, counting and chuckling manically (Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!!!) and thunder and lightning would boom more loudly until parents wrote to Sesame Street saying that their kids were afraid of the Count; thus changing his attitude to his normal skit.
A typical role of the Count is him saying to the audience "Greetings it is I the Count. They call me the Count because I love to count things." Then he would find something to count and say "That is one (insert object here)" and go on until he would then smile after counting; and chuckle "Ah... ah... ah!" following a calm sound of thunder and lightning before continuing until he finds a reason to move on from his performance for the other cast.
The Count mentions 2:30 at any chance he can get and often makes jokes about it. This number may represent an inside joke ("Tooth Hurty"). During the afternoon, his segments of the show always come on at exactly 2:30 p.m. or during the "fashionably late" segment, which airs at 2:31.
While the other Muppets have signature songs (Ernie with Rubber Ducky, Oscar the Grouch with "I Love Trash", Bert with Doin' the Pigeon, Cookie Monster with C is For Cookie for example) the Count has his own signature song: "8 is Great." He sings about how "Eight is great" because "You can hold it this way you can hold it that way it is still eight." His most famous performance of the song is in a colorful background as he holds up a foam cutout of the number eight.
The Count has made several appearances besides the Muppets; he appeared in a TV special celebrating the first year of a news show Countdown with its anchorman Keith Olbermann where he gave them a charm shaped like the number 1 while at the same time Sesame Street was celebrating its 35th year in broadcast. He also has appeared in concerts, TV broadcasts etcetera.
The Count lives in an old, cobweb-infested castle which he shares with many bats. Sometimes he counts them. Some of the pet bats are named, including Grisha, Misha, Sasha, and Tatiana. He views them as his "children." He has a cat, Fatatita, as well. Sometimes he counts her. As a running gag, his house has a squeaky door to which the people visiting him try to remind him about only for the Count to instantly change the subject to his counting addiction. The Count also drives a special car designed in the features of a bat, named the Countmobile which he drives in the movie Follow That Bird! when going to find Big Bird (Role below)...
The Count has been shown with a number of girlfriends. Always a feminized version of the Count Muppet, they have included Countess von Backwards (debuting in Sesame Street's 28th season) who counts backwards; Countess Dahling von Dahling (debuted in the 12th season), and one simply named "The Countess" (first appearing in season 8). The von Count family also includes an unnamed brother and mother as well as an Uncle Uno and grandparents.
In the movie Follow That Bird!, when his good friend Big Bird is exiled from Sesame Street by a dodo family his final message to Big Bird is to "Remember to Count". When Big Bird gets homesick and flees his new home the Count searches for him in his Countmobile; on the way he joins in a song with the others about not giving up but comically gets off track of the song's point by singing about counting telephone poles, counts how many people are at the meeting about finding Big Bord, and one time in the movie counts how many cars from Sesame Street are going to find Big Bird.
Jerry Nelson voiced the Count until his death on August 23, 2012. Matt Vogel started performing the puppetry of the Count, with Nelson still performing the voice until his death. Vogel has now started performing the Count, both voice and puppetry following Jerry's passing. His first performance of the Count was in a YouTube video called "Counting the Yous in YouTube", a song about the celebration of Sesame Street's YouTube channel reaching 1 billion views.
History and evolution of the character on Sesame Street 
The Count debuted on Sesame Street in Season 4 (1972–73), and was conceived by Norman Stiles, who wrote the first script. The Count was performed by Jerry Nelson, who brought the character to life. He was originally made out of the Large Lavender Live Hand Anything Muppet pattern.
In the early 1970s, following a counting session, the Count would laugh maniacally, "AH AH AH AH AH!", accompanied by thunder and lightning flashes. He wouldn't let anything interrupt his counting, and used hypnotic powers to temporarily stun people with a wave of his hands. This practice, however, was discontinued in the mid-1970s because of concern that young viewers would become frightened. In the mid-1970s, the Count became friendlier, did not have hypnotic powers, and interacted more with the characters (both live actors and Muppets). His laugh also changed from maniacal laughter to a more triumphant, stereotypical Dracula-style laugh.
The Count made an appearance in the film The Muppets Take Manhattan at Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy's wedding, then in the Sesame Street movies Follow That Bird and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Notably, the Count appeared on-screen during the closing credits of Follow That Bird where he proceeded to read and count the credits. He also says "Hi, Mom" when a credit appears for Joan Ganz Cooney, creator of Sesame Street.
In Season 33, the Count got a daily segment on Sesame Street, simply called The Number of the Day.
Influences and resemblances 
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When the Count sings, the background music resembles Romani music, no matter what the song. The original "Song of the Count" was written by Jeff Moss as a traditional Hungarian Csárdás. The "Batty Bat" was another popular song by the Count, in a similar style, but waltzified.
Some traditional vampire myths depict vampires as having a similar fixation with counting small objects, providing a means of distracting them by tossing a handful of seeds or salt on the ground. This is seen as a protection from the vampire, similar to the use of garlic (by which he is not repelled). The Count's own arithmomania may simply be a coincidence, however, inspired by the pun on his title of nobility and his educational purpose. According to his theme song, "The Song of the Count": "When I'm alone, I count myself. One count!"
The Count bears a noticeable resemblance to Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, including a similar accent and oversized, pointed canine teeth (better known as fangs, although Lugosi himself did not bear fangs in the 1931 film), but it would appear that he is different from other vampires, besides sporting a goatee and monocle. For example, most vampires wither in direct sunlight; like Bela Lugosi's Dracula, the Count does not and, in fact, enjoys being outside. Additionally, the Count does not suck or drink blood (nor has any association with blood), change into a bat (even though he does have bat companions) or sleep in a coffin; instead he uses a normal bed. In many ways, he is more like a regular human than a vampire. However, the Count still has one vampiric trait: he has no reflection in mirrors.
- In the Dutch version of the series, Sesamstraat, the Count's name is Graaf Tel (literally, "Count Count").
- In the French series 1, Rue Sésame, his name is Comte von Compte.
- In the German series Sesamstraße, his name is Graf Zahl (literally, "Count Number").
- In the Hebrew series Rechov Sumsum, his name is 'מר סופר', phonetically pronounced 'Mar Sofer', which literally means "Mr. Counter".
- In the Mexican series Plaza Sésamo, his name is Conde Contar (literally, "Count Count").
- In the Polish series Ulica Sezamkowa, his name is Liczyhrabia (literally, "Countcount").
- In the Portugal series Rua Sésamo, his name is Conde de Contar (translated as "Count of Counting").
- In the Russian series Улица Сезам, his name is Graf Znak (Граф Знак) (translated as "symbol" or "sign" as the mathematical categories).
- In the Spanish series, Barrio Sésamo, his name is Conde Draco.
- In the Turkish series Susam Sokağı, his name is Sayıların Kontu (literally, "The Count of Numbers")
Appearances outside of Sesame Street 
- The Count appeared on a video package aired on the first episode of the Late Show with David Letterman that was shown after Letterman's emergency quintuple bypass operation. He appeared as a surgeon in an operating theater, counting "One bypass... AH AH AH! Two bypass..."
- The Count was interviewed in character on the BBC Radio 4 economics programme More or Less on December 11, 2009, where he mentioned his favorite number, 34969.
- He appeared on the Halloween edition of SportsCenter to count down the top ten trick plays of the 2010 college football season.
- He was a guest on Countdown with Keith Olbermann for the first anniversary episode.
In popular culture 
- The St. Paul Saints, an independent minor-league baseball team in St. Paul, Minnesota known for unique and sometimes over-the-top promotions, announced that it would give away 2,500 bobblehead dolls dressed as the Count at its May 23, 2009 game. However, instead of the Count's regular head, this doll's head featured Al Franken on one side and Norm Coleman on the other, and was called "Count von Re-Count"—referring to the extraordinarily prolonged recount and legal battle surrounding the 2008 U.S. Senate election between the two men. The team made further jabs at the election during the game.
- Australian rugby league football international Anthony Minichiello has been nicknamed 'The Count' due to his striking resemblance to the character.
- Dave Chappelle has compared the Count to a pimp in his standup routines.
- The multimedia artist Neil Cicierega (recording as Lemon Demon) released a faux-censored version of one of the Count's Sesame Street songs, in which bleeping out the word "count" induces a comedic off-color effect on adult listeners.
- The Count also appeared in episodes of comedy television series such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, Robot Chicken and Mad.
Notes and references 
- "Why was 34,969 Count von Count's magic number?". BBC America Online. August 30, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- Barber, Vampires, Burial and Death, p. 49.
- (Spanish) Jaramillo Londoño, Agustín (1986) . Testamento del paisa (7th ed.). Medellín: Susaeta Ediciones. ISBN 958-95125-0-X.
- Associated Press (2009-05-23). "Saints' gimmick jabs at Senate race". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
- Movie star Muppets at dailytelegraph.com.au