Grover may be owed some thanks for all the superb voice acting Hank Azaria has done on The Simpsons. The blue Muppet was the first character Azaria ever did an impression of, long before he found success in both voice performance and live-action work.
“I remember talking like Grover as a little kid,” said Azaria, who was 5 years old when Sesame Street first aired. “I was at the exact right age… so it was a huge event in my life when Sesame Street premiered.”
Azaria appears on Sesame Street alongside Elmo, but while on set he made sure to find time to meet Eric Robertson, who has puppeteered Grover since 2001.
In Azaria’s “Word on the Street” segment, he teaches Elmo — and young viewers at home — the meaning of the word “imposter.” He dons hats that look like Cookie Monster and other Sesame Street characters, while taking on their recognizable voices. Naturally, the episode will air on Halloween.
Those voices got a test run in the car ride on the way to the Los Angeles set. Azaria mimicked Sesame Street characters for his son, Hal, who was a few days away from his 4th birthday when he joined his dad for the segment taping.
“We knew it coincided with his birthday week, so we were all aflutter,” the actor told EW. He kept the visit a surprise for his son but gave him hints about their destination on the way. “You might meet guy talk like this,” Azaria said to EW in Cookie Monster’s voice to demonstrate.
While Hal played with the Muppets, he placed the three imposter hats on Abby Cadabby’s head. So she tried out a Grover voice, but Azaria had some critique for her: “Your Grover voice sounds like a Sith Lord.”
Watch Azaria’s guest appearance on Sesame Street in the video below:
The segment will air at 10 a.m. ET/PT on PBS on Thursday in an episode titled “The Count.” Also part of Thursday’s installment is a Homeland spoof called “Homelamb,” which you can now view online.