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)
|Voiced by||Jerry Nelson|
Count von Count, often known simply as "the Count" or "Count Count", is one of the Muppet characters on Sesame Street. The Count is a vampire modeled after Bela Lugosi's interpretation of Count Dracula.
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The Count's main role in the show is to educate children about simple mathematical concepts, most notably, as his name partially implies, counting. The Count loves counting so much that he will count anything and everything, regardless of size, amount, or how much annoyance he is causing the other characters. In Season 6, for instance, he once prevented Ernie from answering a telephone because he wanted to continue counting the number of times the telephone rang. 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 every floor in the building. The Count can occasionally lose his temper when somebody or something interrupts his counting, or feel sad when he there is nothing around for him to count, but apart from these, he is typically portrayed as friendly and cheerful.
The Count lives in an old, cobweb-infested castle which he shares with many bats and a cat named Fatatita. He spent his childhood in the Carpathian Mountains, which makes it clear he is Romanian. Perhaps not surprising, he speaks in an accent from that area of the world. His pet bats tend to have Slavic names, such as Grisha, Misha, Sasha, and Tatiana. He views the bats as his "children" and sometimes counts them. As a running gag, his castle has a squeaky door, which visitors always point out, only for the Count to instantly change the subject to his counting addiction. The Count drives a special car, the Countmobile, designed to look like a bat. (cf. Batmobile)
The Count has been shown with a number of girlfriends, who tend to be vampire Countesses. These include 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 includes an unnamed brother and mother as well as an Uncle Uno and grandparents.
According to BBC News, during an interview with the More or Less team's Tim Harford, the Count said his favorite number is 34,969. The Count was quoted as saying, "It's a square-root thing.": 34,969 is a perfect square, being 1872.
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").[original research?] 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.
The Count's signature song is "Eight is Great" ("You can hold it this way, you can hold it that way, it is still 8").
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. Nelson voiced the Count until his death on August 23, 2012. At that time, Matt Vogel had taken over performing the puppetry of the Count. Upon Nelson's death, Vogel started performing both the Count's voice and puppetry. 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.
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.
- In the Dutch version of the series, Sesamstraat, the Count's name is Graaf Tel (literally, "Count (nobleman) Count (process of counting)").
- 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 of Counting").
- In the Polish series Ulica Sezamkowa, his name is Liczyhrabia (literally, "Countcount").
- In the Portuguese 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 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.
- He was animated in Family Guy counting bats, then Peter Griffin asked if the Count had ever "done someone in." In a later episode, when he's dating Meg Griffin, he counts, "One nipple! Two nipples! Three..." and then beats a hasty disgusted retreat.
- He was also animated in The Simpsons, this time counting coconuts. Marge Simpson admits her dislike towards the Count. She gets upset and yells, "Go back to your own country!". In another episode, Homer Simpson and Count Dracula asked him where they could find Lisa Simpson and Edmund, who had run away together. The Count is also seen sucking Big Bird's blood.
- In the Mormon Tabernacle Choir 2014 PBS Christmas Concert Keep Christmas with You, Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott along with the Count performed The Twelve Days of Christmas on the 7,667 pipe Conference center organ.
- He was a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers on March 27, 2015, to help out in the feature "This Week in Numbers".
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.
- Arithmomania#In folklore and Vampire#Creating vampires for other vampires with a compulsion to count