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Count von Count
First appearance November 27, 1972
Gender Male
Voiced by Jerry Nelson
Also known as The Count
"The Count" redirects here; for the nobility title, see Count. For other uses, see Count (disambiguation).

Count von Count, often known simply as The Count, is one of the Muppet characters on Sesame Street, performed by Jerry Nelson. The Count is a vampire modeled after Béla Lugosi's interpretation of Count Dracula.

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Description

The Count's main purpose is educating children on simple mathematical concepts, most notably counting. The Count has a love of counting (arithmomania); he will count anything and everything, regardless of size, amount, 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.

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 has a cat, Fatatita, as well. Sometimes he counts her. He also drives a special car designed in the features of a bat, named the Countmobile, intended as a pun to the Batmobile.

The Count's former girlfriend, Countess von Backwards, was known for counting backwards. More recently he has been seen with a new girlfriend, Countess Dahling von Dahling. His brother and mother have made appearances on the show.

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 He was originally made out of the Large Lavender Live Hand Anything Muppet pattern.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[citation needed]. This practice, however, was discontinued in the mid-1970s because of concern that young viewers would become frightened. Since 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.

He made an appearance in The Muppets Take Manhattan, then in the Sesame Street movies Follow That Bird and 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.

In Season 33, the Count got a daily segment on Sesame Street, simply called The Number of the Day.

Influences and resemblances

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 Czardas.

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. The Count's own arithmomania may simply be a coincidence, however, inspired by the pun on his title of nobility. 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; the Count does not and in fact enjoys being outside. Additionally, the Count does not suck blood, change into a bat, or sleep in a coffin. He also sleeps at night. 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.

Internationally

  • 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 El Conde Contar (literally, "Count Count").
  • 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 Znak (Знак).
  • 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 theatre, counting "One bypass... AH AH AH! Two bypass..."[citation needed]
  • In a Dancing with the Stars results show that aired on October 2, 2007, a fake backstage sequence with Jimmy Kimmel claimed that votes for the show are tabulated by The Count, who was depicted as being thrown into a panic by the discovery that "Mel B" and "Scary Spice" are in fact the same person.
  • The Count was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less on December 11, 2009, where he mentioned his favourite number, 34969.

References 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.[1]
  • Comedian Dave Chappelle called the Count "a pimp" during a stand-up routine and imagined him counting while physically abusing his prostitute.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Associated Press (2009-05-23). "Saints' gimmick jabs at Senate race". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=4201396. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 

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