GAY OR STRAIGHT? WHO CARES!
BERT vs ERNIE is the REAL QUESTION
Are Bert and Ernie gay or straight? Who really cares! The REAL question is who would
win a ﬁght between the two Muppets? MICHAEL SCHIAVELLO answers this burning
Ernie would request a special ‘bath tub rules’ match for this one but Bert, being
a stickler for the rules, would ﬂatly quash that notion. He’s fully aware of
Ernie’s cheeky streak and anticipates that under bathtub rules Ernie would
stoop to the depths of using foreign objects such as his beloved rubber ducky.
No folks, this ﬁght, as with most of Bert and Ernie’s adventures since 1969, will
take place in the shared basement apartment at 123 Sesame Street.
In the blue corner stands Bert. Though his exact height is unclear, we know that
Bert towers over his best friend by almost a foot. He has a twin brother named
Bart, is often grumpy, very world-weary and, to be quite honest, deadset
In the red corner stands Ernie, a short, stouter Muppet who also goes by the
aliases Sir Ernie and Caveman Ernie. He may give away a great deal in height to
Bert but his short stature gives Ernie a greater center of gravity, which would
make it hard for him to be taken to ground with any wrestling throws. Ernie
also has a wider chin which, though presenting a bigger striking surface,
augurs much better than Bert’s narrow, pointed chin which would be more
susceptible to a one punch knockout. Ernie also has a shorter neck, making him
difficult to put in an effective headlock or choke attempt.
Another major physical factor in Ernie’s favour is the massiveness of his hands.
Seriously, Ernie had some monster meat hooks! Bert’s hands are mere chicken
claws by comparison and combined with his skinny arms, Bert’s punches would
presumably have less weight on them than Kate Moss. Ernie’s shorter, more
compact build would give him a tremendous strength advantage. In my ardent
research to ﬁnd demonstrations where this strength is actually used against
Bert, I managed to ﬁnd one particular sketch that displays Ernie’s freakish
strength – of which I am sure even he is unaware.
In said sketch, Ernie is standing under an umbrella in the rain when Bert
approaches completely soaked from head to… I was going to say toes but did
anyone ever see if Bert had feet? Bert asks Ernie if he too can stand under the
umbrella and steps forward only to have Ernie push him back with his left hand
with ease. A few seconds later when Bert tries to get under the umbrella again,
Ernie pushes him back a second time, though he is completely nonchalant
about his action. Ernie then goes into a tirade about how he’s mad that he
couldn’t take his bike to the zoo. As he rants he clenches his left ﬁst and we’re
shown that scarily massive knuckle bag again. Bert then makes another attempt
to step under the umbrella and Ernie, as he continues to waffle on, shoves his
best friend back with even greater force and gives him a few hard ﬁnger thrusts
on the chest to drive home his point.
Does that mean Ernie would win a ﬁght against Bert?
Not necessarily. Bert’s a strange cat. Intelligence counts for a lot in the ﬁght
game and Bert is quite clearly the brains of this two-Muppet outﬁt. It’s also
interesting to note one of Bert’s favourite pastimes is pigeon keeping. (Bear
with me here as my long straw is drawn) Pigeon keeping was also the favoured
pastime of boxer Mike Tyson. While Bert only kept one pet pigeon, named
Bernice, Tyson had pigeon coops set up on the rooftop of his Brooklyn
apartment that held over 1,100 birds. Iron Mike wasn’t the only boxer with an
affinity for pigeons. George Foreman was a keen pigeon racer back in the day,
and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Jeff Fenech have also been linked with a
liking for pigeons. All of these boxers were world champions. Is there a link,
therefore, between pigeons and being a great boxer?
Just what sort of Muppet are we really dealing with when it comes to Bert? The
Sesame Street star found new fame among internet surfers in the late 1990s
thanks to the (now defunct) website Bert Is Evil developed by Filipino artist and
designer Dino Ignacio.
The website cleverly (or sinisterly, depending on your perception) featured
manipulated pictures of Bert consorting with the likes of Osama bin Laden,
Adolf Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan, and even showed mock photographic
evidence that Bert was in Dallas during the JFK assassination. In 1998 the
website won the Webby Award and the People’s Voice Award for Best Weird
Website at the Palace of Fine Arts Auditorium in San Francisco. Bert Is Evil made
global headlines in 2001 when the Muppet was seen at Osama Bin Laden’s
shoulder on placards carried by protesters in the streets of Bangladesh. Every
major news network in the world, including CNN, Fox News, and the BBC carried
stories of Bert-bin Laden. Mind you, by this time the website had been shut
down for almost three years. In the summer of 1998 Ignacio decided to end
Bert Is Evil as it had become too expensive to operate such was it’s
overwhelming popularity. However Bert Is Evil pictures continued to circulate
through the dozens of mirror websites that sprung up after the demise of the
When it comes to a basement showdown with Ernie, however, no manipulated
pictures nor conspiracy theories help Bert win this Muppet a Muppet
confrontation. The shorter, more robust Ernie with his deceptive strength would
Muppet-handle and bitch-slap Bert in every aspect. Bert’s spindly ﬁngers
wouldn’t allow him to make a ﬁst that could hurt a Fraggle, let alone a tank-like
specimen as Ernie. It would take just seconds for Ernie to get on the inside,
land those massive hams to Bert’s ribcage then crack an uppercut to Bert’s
narrow chin that would knock the Muppet’s eyebrows off.
I’m not saying Ernie is the toughest cat on Sesame Street. Oscar The Grouch
holds the thug title for mine. And let’s not forget The Count, Clawin’ Kristy and
that Martian sock puppet thing that swallows it’s own face.
Bert versus Ernie would be a Muppet massacre with Ernie coming up trumps.
With Bert out cold on the basement ﬂoor, Ernie sticks a banana in his mate’s
ear, puts his hands on his hips triumphantly and declares: “Brought to you by
the letters KO!”
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