For my last birthday, Fred bought tickets to see the play Avenue Q. In short, it’s Sesame Street in the real world. The play is done with puppets and humans. Many of the puppets have Sesame Street counterparts, like Rod and Nicky who are the alternative Bert and Ernie.
Fred and I had never seen the play before but I had the soundtrack which I’d purchased based on a friend’s recommendation. I hadn’t really listened to it but once I found out we were going to see it, we started playing the CD. We couldn’t stop laughing. “What Do You Do With a BA in English?/It Sucks to Be Me” quickly became one of my favorite songs. The first part is a solo by Preston, a puppet just out of college and starting out on his own for the first time. It goes:
What do you do with a BA in English?
What is my life supposed to be?
Four years of college
And plenty of knowledge
Have earned me this useless degree.
I can’t pay the bills yet
‘Cause I have no skills yet.
The world is a big, scary place.
But somehow I can’t shake
The feeling I might make
A difference to the human race.
Oh, how true his words ring! What does one do with a BA in English? Teach or work in a bookstore; those are the only two options I’ve been able to think of. (Later in the show one of the puppets gets fired from her assistant teaching position and gets a job at a chain bookstore. She reflects, “I’m making as little as ever.” Word, sister.)
The second part of the song has the characters lamenting why each of their lives suck. It culminates when the super of the building, Gary Coleman, comes out and says why his life sucks. The other characters agree, “It sucks to be you!” Check it out on YouTube!
Of course, there are other great songs on the album (“Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” is another favorite) but it would be easier if you just run out and get the album yourself. You won’t regret it.
When the day finally came to go see Avenue Q, I was extremely excited. I knew what to expect music-wise but seeing a play and hearing a play are two different things. There were so many visual jokes throughout the show. For instance, there are two screens that hang above the stage and at different intervals will have cartoon pictures and kids shouting out what those pictures are. “One, two, three, four, five nightstands!” the kids shout while five cartoon nightstands appear on the screen, one by one. Then, one by one each nightstand disappears until only one is left. “One!” the kids shout. “One nightstand! One…night…stand!” This is something that isn’t on the soundtrack and can only be appreciated when viewing the live production.
At the end of the night, Fred and I continued to laugh through the hour-long drive home. It was a great present and I can’t wait to go see it again!