Big Bird talks new Sesame Street podcast 'Foley & Friends,' life in lockdown and birdseed banana bread

Patrick Ryan

All the greats are starting podcasts in quarantine: Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Foley the Sound Maker Monster. 

Wait, who's Foley? Well, she's a fuzzy purple monster and newest Sesame Street character, who along with her sidekick Mikee the Microphone, co-hosts "The Sesame Street Podcast with Foley & Friends." The educational, kid-centered podcast is on Audible now, with new 15-minute episodes released each Tuesday and Thursday starting Oct. 20.

"Foley & Friends" is the iconic children's show's first podcast, with episodes featuring original songs, games, jokes, lessons, and visits from beloved characters Big Bird, Elmo and Cookie Monster in every episode. 

Ahead of the 15-episode first season, Big Bird called USA TODAY from his nest on Sesame Street to talk about the podcast, life in lockdown and more. 

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Big Bird at the Daytime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in 2009. The 8-foot-tall "Sesame Street" star is a guest on new Audible podcast "The Sesame Street Podcast with Foley & Friends."

Hey! How's your morning been?

Big Bird: It's pretty good! I woke up very early 'cause I'm an early bird. I had my birdseed, and now I'm talking to you.

Well, thanks so much for your time! So what was your reaction when Foley asked you to be on the podcast?

Big Bird: I was so excited! Foley gets some pretty big stars. When I visited, she was interviewing the letters A, B and C. Doesn't get much bigger than that! 

Have you ever been on a podcast before?

Big Bird: I've never been on a podcast like Foley's. What makes her podcast different is that it's really just a bunch of my friends. It makes you feel really at home.

Cover art for Audible original "The Sesame Street Podcast with Foley & Friends," featuring Big Bird and Foley.

Elmo pops in during every episode to tell jokes. Does he ever test material on you beforehand? 

Big Bird: Oh, Elmo, he's always telling jokes! Here's one he told me today: How can you tell that the ocean is friendly?


Big Bird: It waves! Get it?

(Laughs.) That's great. Oscar said his favorite podcast is "This American Trash." What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Big Bird: Oh, well, let's see. I've been meaning to check out "Beakonomics." But my Granny Bird likes "My Favorite Mallard." 

If you and your teddy bear, Radar, ever had a podcast, what would the two of you talk about?

Big Bird: I would like a podcast where we talk about traveling and all the fun places Radar and I want to visit. I've been to many, many cities across America and visited a whole bunch of friends, but I'd like to try to go outside of America. That might be fun.

Would you like to be a guest on "Foley & Friends" again?

Big Bird: Yeah, I'd love to go back on Foley's show! Maybe next time we could talk about nature or music or using our imaginations. That's fun! 

And how are you and your friends doing in quarantine?

Big Bird: Well, we're doing OK. As you know, things are a little different. But we're all doing our part to help everybody stay healthy and safe.

Oscar must be a pro at social distancing. Have you gone and checked in on him in his trash can? 

Big Bird: Yeah, he is a natural! Everybody is staying far, far apart when we're outside like you're supposed to. So Oscar has to yell, "Scram!" a lot louder. But he still does it.

Has Cookie Monster been baking at all or just eating everything?

Big Bird: No, no, he's been baking a lot. He's even been trying some new foods like hummus. 

Has he tried banana bread or sourdough bread? Those were pretty popular at the start of quarantine. 

Big Bird: Yeah, my Granny Bird baked some banana bread with birdseed on top and he did have some. He liked it! 

Does your Granny Bird bake a lot?

Big Bird: She does! We make birdseed cookies, birdseed pie, and she makes a nice birdseed smoothie – a lot of stuff with birdseed. You wouldn't think that you could cook with it, but you really can.

Rosita, left, Elmo and Cookie Monster in a COVID-19-themed segment from "Sesame Street: Elmo's Playdate" earlier this year.

Have you picked up any new interests or hobbies during this time?

Big Bird: Well, I've been learning words that start with the letter B, like "baboon." That's a kind of monkey. And "boysenberry," that's a kind of a berry.

And how is school going so far?

Big Bird: It's good. I'm happy to be back in school. Some of us go to school every day, and then some of us just have school online. But what's great about it is you can still play and learn together from a distance.

Do you have any advice for kids in virtual school who may be missing their friends and teachers right now?

Big Bird: I know things are a little different right now, but you could still learn and play together, even on video. My friend, Rosita, has to stay home because her abuelita ("grandma") lives with her. So during art time, I draw pictures for her of us playing in the park. You know, times before we had to stay at home.

I have to ask before we go: How did you find a mask your size?

Big Bird: My Granny Bird made it for me! It's a special one. I have (a mask) for every day of the week. Or as my Granny Bird says, every day of the beak!