Multiple-Tony Award-winning musical about a group of friends trying to live out their dreams, despite such mundane obstacles as trying to hold a job. The show is loosely based on and inspired by Sesame Street, though it handles adult themes such as sex, drinking and pornography. Much of the humor is crude and the language is quite foul, and there is one on-stage depiction of puppet sex, so despite appearing to be a children's show, it is very definitely for mature audiences.
The main characters of the show are:
- Princeton - A recent college graduate Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life.
- Brian - An unemployed aspiring comedian.
- Kate Monster - A kindergarten teaching assistant.
- Rod - An investment banker; parody of Bert.
- Nicky - A slacker and Rod's roommate; parody of Ernie.
- Christmas Eve - Japanese therapist with no clients and Brian's fiancée/wife.
- Gary Coleman - Former Child Star turned superintendent (usually played by a woman).
- Trekkie Monster - Cookie Monster, except obsessed with porn instead of cookies.
- Mrs. Thistletwat - Kate's domineering and bitchy boss.
- Lucy The Slut - Exotic dancer and singer at the local bar.
- The Bad Idea Bears - Two bears who encourage people to do naughty things.
At least one song from the show, "The Internet Is for Porn", has become incredibly popular on the web after being used for a number of user-produced videos.
All of the characters except for Brian, Christmas Eve, and Gary are puppets. The singers are on stage, dressed in black, and although the audience is supposed to ignore their presence, they tend to act along with their characters. The puppets are supposed to represent humans, although the two monsters (Kate and Trekkie) are treated as a separate race, just like white, black, etc, and are distinguishable by the fact they're plush, while the other puppets are slightly fuzzy felt.
- An Aesop: What you get with "Sesame Street for adults". But on the other hand, they're good Aesops.
- Affectionate Parody: The creators of the show have an admiring attitude towards Jim Henson's works (and a number of them actually worked for Henson, to the point that they had to convince them not to sue over the similarities to Sesame Street).
- They were thrilled when Jim Henson's widow saw the show and loved it.
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: The Bad Idea Bears, but with sex and alcohol.
- All Asians Are Alike: Averted by Christmas Eve in the song "It Sucks to Be Me" where her being Japanese prevents her from getting a job at a Korean deli or Chinese restaurant. However, it's sometimes invoked through casting: some of the actress' playing the part have been of a different race; for instance, the London production had a Filipina in the role at one time.
- All Germans Are Nazis: And I quote:
Nicky: Schadenfreude, huh? What's that, some kind of Nazi word?
- All Just a Dream: Rod finding out that Nicky is in love with him, too.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: Averted.
- Amazing Technicolor Population
- Animated Actors: Fairly ambiguous; just like the actual Muppets, the characters often appear in amusing interviews, videos and other events where they interact with the crowd and talk about their experiences on the show, though it's unclear whether they're treating the play as a play or as an actual series of events.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: Christmas Eve, with an extra helping of Japanese Ranguage.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Christmas Eve.
- Ass Shove: In "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)":
Princeton: [gasp] You can't put your finger there! [gasp] PUT YOUR FINGER THERE!
- Bad Girl Song: "Special".
- Big Applesauce: The show takes place in an outer borough of New York City. They call attention to it in the song "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment".
- Bikini Bar: The Around the Clock Café.
- Bittersweet Ending: Princeton realizes he may never find out what his purpose is, and he may not even have one, and that every good thing in life is only temporary. But at the same time, all the bad things in life are only temporary too, and instead of worrying about the future, it's best to just enjoy what you have for now.
- Black Comedy Rape: In the Concert version of "The More You Ruv Someone", Kate is replaced by a chorus which at one point blurts out "Stab Him, Rape Him!".
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: "Give us your money" to audience. The performance has random monsters running throughout the audience with hats (the money that they collect is donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS).
- In the UK, at least this leads to some Lampshade Hanging when one of them (usually Brian) comments that British money is no good in New York.
- When the touring production went to Manchester, they receive a weekend for two in Liverpool, and comment on how "that isn't worth anything!"
- In the UK, at least this leads to some Lampshade Hanging when one of them (usually Brian) comments that British money is no good in New York.
- Bridezilla: In a more literal sense than usual.
- Broken Aesop: "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist". The message is that everyone's a little bit racist, but the way that it's presented makes it look like it's okay to be an asshole because everyone does it. For example, when Kate, Princeton and Gary laugh at Christmas Eve's accent in front of Brian, and then tell him to "come off it" when he defends her, they aren't being racist, they're just being assholes.
- But Liquor Is Quicker
- Catch Phrase: The Bad Idea Bears:
- Comedic Sociopathy: "Schadenfreude", which is German for "happiness at the misfortune of others."
- Coming Out Story
- Content Warnings: e.g. "PARENTAL ADVISORY: 60% adult situations and 40% foam rubber."
- "Parental Advisory Sticker: You know where you can stick it."
- "Parental Advisory: Full Puppet Nudity."
- Crapsack World: Subverted. Avenue Q is actually a really bad place to live, but everyone makes the best of it.
- Crosscast Role: Gary Coleman is frequently played by a woman.
- Cute Monster Girl: Kate (though she's a monster in name only... well, she is a bit fuzzy).
- Darker and Edgier: Sesame Street, of all things.
- Dead Baby Comedy
- Defenestrate and Berate: Variation; Kate throws a penny off the Empire State Building , nearly killing Lucy, when she is Stood Up.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life: [sung] "I don't know how I know - but I'm gonna find my purpose! I don't know where I'm gonna look, but I'm gonna find my purpose!"
- Deus Ex Machina: Trekkie's secret savings.
- Doppelganger Replacement Love Interest: Ricky, as a muscular gay replacement for Nicky.
- Drink Order: "Long Island iced tea" variety.
- Driven to Suicide: Princeton and an unnamed extra (neither goes through with it).
- There was also one for Rod near the end, in that Christmas Eve is explaining to everybody that she has her first client, and mentions that it's Rod. Then we hear what sounds like a gunshot. It was only the cork to a bottle of champagne coming off that Rod opened however.
- The look on Christmas Eve's face is HILARIOUS!
- Educational Song: Parodied in "The Internet Is for Porn".
- Engrish: Christmas Eve.
- Erotic Dream: "Fantasies Come True".
- Evolving Music: "For Now" was originally written with the line "George Bush is only for now." As this has proven true, the lyric has been replaced with several other things over it's various runs.
- George Bush was only for now.
- In the London production of the show, George Bush's name was replaced with Gordon Brown sometime in 2009 (two nights after he lost the 2010 election, this line prompted a standing ovation).
- Or in Australia, "Tony Abbott is only for now." (He's the Federal Opposition Leader, and hilariously nuts.)
- One of the most recent US showings went with "Fox News is only for now."
- Glenn Beck is also a common replacement for George Bush in recent US showings.
- In the California regional showing, it's "Prop 8 is only for now."
- During the mid-2009 off-Broadway run: "Swine Flu is only for now."
- Mid-2010, "BP is only for now."
- The UK tour (Late 2010) had : "Lib Dems are only for now.", referencing the unpopular move of the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition with their near polar opposites in Parliament, the Conservative Party.
- The final performance on London's West End (Oct 2010): "This show is only for now."
- The UK tour (Feb 2011) is using: "Jedward is only for now."
- And the 2012 UK tour had "Justin Bieber".
- In "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", the line about stupid Poles in the Broadway production was changed to French assholes and the line where Christmas Eve says she tried to work in a Korean Deli is changed to a Chinese Restaurant in the West End production.
- Expository Theme Tune
- Expy: Trekkie, Nicky and Rod for Cookie Monster, Ernie and Bert respectively. Although Kate's design slightly resembles Elmo or Grover, she doesn't parody any specific Sesame character.
- She sounds like and somewhat resembled Prairie Dawn.
- Extranormal Institute: Monsterssori School.
- The Face of the Sun: Show opens with a Sesame Street-like video of the sun shining and smiling ("The sun is shining, it's a lovely day") until clouds marked with various companies appear ("But you've got lots of bills to pay!").
- Fantastic Racism: 'Monsters' sometimes face mild discrimination - with their only biological difference being fur as opposed to... cloth... covering their bodies.
- Well, Kate is pretty much a fuzzy human, but Trekkie looks like he stepped out of a sexually frustrated version of Where the Wild Things Are.
- Lampshaded by "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist".
- Gay Conservative: Rod, the closeted Republican investment banker.
- Gayngst: Ditto.
- Girlfriend in Canada: Rod once again - literally. "Her name is Alberta, she lives in Vancouver..."
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: The Bad Idea Bears, although as the name suggests they're both Bad Angels.
- Good Feels Good: The central message of "The Money Song".
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: "My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada".
- Also, "If You Were Gay". "Because you see, if it were me, I would feel free to say that I am gay (but I'm not gay)."
- Henpecked Husband: Brian.
- Homoerotic Dream: Rod dreaming about Nicky confessing his love for him is what prompts Rod to finally accept that he is definitely gay and that he's in love with Nicky.
- Hypocritical Humor: Christmas Eve does not seem to have a positive perspective toward the Jews ("They have all the money!"). Guess what kind of wedding she has later.
- "I Am" Song: "It Sucks to Be Me".
- Ignoring by Singing: Rod tries using "la la la" when Nickie tries to discuss homosexuality with him in the "If You Were Gay" number.
- I Have This Friend: Rod uses this one on Christmas Eve, trying to decide whether to come out.
- The Immodest Orgasm: "You can be as loud as the hell you want when you're making love."
- Incompatible Orientation: Rod's crush on Nicky, who, despite what fan girls want to believe, isn't gay.
- Further played with and semi-subverted when Nicky introduces Rod to Ricky, a gay guy identical to the Nicky save for his clothes.
- Informed Judaism: If Rod and Ricky's wedding photos are any indicator, it would seem Rod is Jewish. [dead link]
- Christmas Eve and Brian may qualify considering what kind of wedding they had.
- The Internet Is for Porn: The song is the Trope Namer.
- Worth mentioning twice, simply because it's so tied to the show now.
- Interrupted Suicide: "I'm gonna jump!" "Don't do it!" "Okay!"
- Invisible to Gaydar: Rod.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: Inverted, Lucy to Princeton:
Lucy: [I don't need] some well-hung, baby-face kid, who leeches from his parents and can't get his act together!
Princeton: Wait... I think I heard a compliment in there!
- "I Want" Song: "Purpose".
- "Just Joking" Justification: One song tries to use this for ethnic jokes.
- Landlord: Gary.
- Large Ham: Trekkie's loud abrasive personality is very conducive to awesome hamminess.
- Larynx Dissonance: Averted. Gary is played by a woman, but the part is written for an alto (low female) voice, to match the real Gary Coleman's high voice.
- Lyrical Dissonance: The lyrics almost never match the tone of the music, particularly because the music sounds like it is straight out of Sesame Street, while the lyrics would feel at home on The Jerry Springer Show.
- Manly Gay: Ricky, who sports plaid vests and wife beaters, has huge muscles, and has Perma-Stubble.
- Master of the Mixed Message: Princeton toward Kate Monster.
- Meaningful Name: A video screen reveals that Lucy's name is actually Slut, Lucy The.
- Men Can't Keep House: As Nicky is straight and Rod a closeted gay, they're naturally messy and obsessively clean respectively.
- Metaphorgotten: Eve loses Kate (and the audience) during "The More You Ruv Someone":
Christmas Eve: Love!
Kate Monster: Love!
Christmas: And hate!
Kate: And hate!
Christmas: They like two brothers!
Christmas: Who go on a date!
Kate: Who... what?
- Misery Poker: The appropriately-named "It Sucks to Be Me".
- Mistaken for Racist: Subverted; Princeton is briefly, before most of the cast decides that "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist".
- Muppet: All the characters except Brian, Christmas Eve and Gary.
- The Musical
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Subverted, nay, annihilated by Lucy The Slut.
- Both figuratively and literally (see Meaningful Name above).
- Near-Death Experience
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Insistently averted: "I'm Gary Coleman, from TV's Diff'rent Strokes / I made a lot of money that got stolen by my folks!" (In the original Broadway production, and most subsequent American shows, Gary Coleman is played by a woman. For the London production, who might not know the show, Gary Coleman is played by a man.)
- Even more insistently averted in the Israeli production, which replaces Coleman's character entirely with local actress Michal Yanai, then actually got Michal Yanai to play the role.
- Nostalgia Filter: The entire point of the song "I Wish I Could Go Back to College".
- Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: "If You Were Gay".
- Odd Friendship: Rod and Nicky fit this trope right down to the "neat guy and slob" archetype.
Rod: You leave your clothes out! You put your feet on my chair!
Nicky: Oh yeah?! Yo do such anal things like ironing your underwear!
- Phrase Catcher: Gary comments on how tiring it is to hear his character's catchphrase said to him.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Christmas Eve wears the most tricked out Tokyo-techno wedding dress ever, covered in bright flashing lights.
- Retool: The show was initially designed to be a TV show on Comedy Central. But when that fell through, they said "well, if we can't put this on TV, why not put it on Broadway?"
- Roger Rabbit Effect: Nobody bats an eyelash at puppets and humans interacting (though a team-up with the cast of Fiddler on the Roof for Broadway Cares explored the idea in greater depth).
- In fact, the characters seem to think the difference between monster puppets and human puppets is more striking than between human puppets and human... humans.
- The audience can easily be lulled into ignoring the actors onstage who are controlling the puppets. This can be jarring when the cast comes out for the curtain-call at the end without the puppets in their hands ("Who's that guy?").
- However, in various in-character interviews and events, the characters seem to be aware that humans and puppets are different (they sometimes reveal themselves as Animated Actors). One video featuring Rod even treats puppets as a separate race, with him calling himself "the first Republican Puppet-American".
- Sadist Teacher: Kate's boss, who actually lampshades this herself:
"Crabby old bitches are the backbone of this country!"
Mrs. Thistletwat: You're gonna burn in Hell!
Kate Monster: WELL, I'LL SEE YOU THERE!
- Self-Deprecation: "It Sucks to Be Me".
- Shout-Out: One of the "good songs" mentioned in "Mix Tape" is "Moving Right Along" from The Muppet Movie.
- Slap Slap Kiss: Explained lovingly in Christmas Eve's song "The More You Ruv Someone (The More You Want To Kill Them)".
- So Unfunny It's Funny: Pretty much what makes the "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today" song memorable.
- Species Surname: Kate and Trekkie Monster (who are not related).
- Stood Up
- Subverted Kids Show: A possible subversion, ironically enough, as one of the creators noted "We're not subverting Sesame Street -- Sesame Street itself is subversive!"
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Lampshaded when Nicky decides to help Rod get a boyfriend who is exactly his type. He finds a guy named Ricky who is exactly like Nicky. Rod is pleased.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: "My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada".
- Overlaps with Blatant Lies.
- Take a Third Option: In "It Sucks to Be Me":
Kate: Whose life sucks more, mine or Brian's?
Rod and Nicky: OURS!
- Take That: In "It Sucks to Be Me", the chorus involves Brian, Kate, Rod and Nicky all singing about how dreadful their lives are; cue Gary Coleman talking about his life, and everyone agrees that his life sucks the worst.
All: It sucks to be you.
Kate: You win.
All: It sucks to be you.
Brian: I feel better now.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The Bad Idea Bears.
- The Three Certainties in Life: According to the song "For Now", "Except for death and paying taxes everything in life is only for now."
- Transparent Closet: Rod's transparent closet is more like a mime in his glass box:
Rod: ...an afternoon alone with my favorite book: "Broadway Musicals of the 1940s"
- Trekkie: In early drafts, Trekkie monster was this - that got changed due to potential copyright issues, but the name remains.
- Tsundere: Christmas Eve, especially in her (mostly) solo song "The More You Ruv Someone (The More You Want To Kill Them)".
- Twofer Token Minority: After Christmas Eve marries Brian, she is now a Jewish Japanese woman, or as fans put it "a kung fu jew".
- Unexplained Recovery: After being hit in the head by a coin, Lucy's head falls off (twice) on the way to the hospital (off stage) but she survives and becomes an Evangelical Christian, similarly at the end of the show it's revealed that The Bad Idea Bears have become Scientologists.
- The Vamp: Lucy the Slut.
- Vapor Wear: Brian's song "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today".
- X Meets Y: Sesame Street + Rent, or possibly Sesame Street + South Park + Friends.