LOS ANGELES - Elmo is tickled by his time away from Sesame Street.
The not-so-self-aware furry red monster, who has testified before Congress and presented at the Daytime Emmys, is now leading lively literacy lessons from the zoo in his new Nintendo DS, Wii and PC video game "Elmo's A-to-Zoo Adventure." It's the first time Elmo and his neighborhood friends have starred in a title on Nintendo's popular systems.
The optimistic muppet is also preparing for another hallmark: Kevin Clash, Elmo's veteran puppeteer, is the subject of the upcoming documentary, "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey," debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
In a recent interview, Elmo talked - in third person, of course - about his favorite trips, foods, games and celebrities.
Q. You're well traveled, Elmo. What places have you visited in the world?
A: Elmo's gone to Hong Kong and South Africa. It was beautiful over there. And Elmo's got to go Paris. Qui. And places like that with Elmo's mommy and daddy. We have a lot of fun.
Q. There have been several celebrity visitors to Sesame Street. Who are some of your favorites?
A. Well, Elmo got to visit some of his celebrity friends like Mr. Ricky Gervais and Ms. Michelle Obama. Oh, and Elmo got taught how to act by Mr. Robert De Niro one time, too.
Q. What other celebrities would you like to meet?
A. People like Ms. Barbra Streisand would be one. Ms. Bette Midler, too. Oh, and Cher! (Laughs.)
Q. Is it true that you'll be attending Sundance next year?
A. Yes. Elmo's looking forward to going to Sundance - for the skiing!
Q. Have you ever been before?
A. No. Elmo likes the name Sundance. That's kinda cool: sun and then dance. (Dances.)
Q. You have a new video game out now. Do you play video games?
A. Well, Elmo loves to play all kinds of games.
Q. What kinds?
A. Elmo likes to play Go Fish. Do you like to play Go Fish? And Elmo likes to play hopscotch.
Q. Let's talk about some of your "Sesame Street" friends. Why is Oscar the Grouch such a grouch?
A. Well, Oscar's a grouch, but he's actually kind of a softie inside.
Q. What about Cookie Monster? Do you think he has a problem?
A. We tried to teach Cookie Monster that cookies are a sometime food, so he's kind of getting the hang of it. Not very well, but he'll get there.
Q. What are some of your favorite foods?
A. Elmo loves wasabi. That's why Elmo has no eyelids. That's a sometime food, too. And Elmo loves pistachio ice cream, too. And Elmo loves saying it, too. PISTACHIO! (Laughs.)
Q. Why does Elmo laugh so much?
A. Why does Elmo laugh so much? Because things are so funny! (Laughs.)
Q. So can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?