Comedian Larry David attacked Sesame Street’s Elmo on NBC’s TODAY show last week, prompting jokes, memes, and a multitude of online reactions. But no one reacted more than actor Wil Wheaton.
David apologized to Elmo shortly after their altercation on the show, which the beloved children’s character accepted.
In the Feb. 1 installment of the TODAY show, Elmo and his father, Louie, are being interviewed. Once the camera pans to Today anchor Al Roker to talk weather, Elmo’s microphone is heard making muffled sounds. It’s then revealed that David was mock squeezing Elmo’s face and pretending to slap him.
“Mr. Larry, Elmo liked you before,” Elmo told David as he walked away. “Let’s talk about how you’re feeling.”
Louie told David to ask for permission before touching others, and David responded, saying “somebody had to do it” and joked that his actions were in response to Elmo’s viral tweet about mental health, which received a barrage of earnest responses.
Some online said Elmo should get revenge on David by punching him back or that David facing consequences for the gag would make for a perfect Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, David’s HBO comedy series currently on its final season.
But others took the situation very seriously.
“Honestly the professionalism of the puppeteers here is incredible, they took a completely unexpected and inappropriate moment and still turned it into a teaching moment about consent,” Cate Osborn tweeted. “But also fuck Larry David.”
“Did we find out *why* Larry David punched Elmo? It stressed me out,” Sheila Stryker tweeted. “Things are too weird.”
Wheaton, an actor who appeared on Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory, and Sesame Street, posted online that he found the whole incident traumatizing.
“Holy shit it’s even worse than I thought,” Wheaton wrote. “What the fuck is wrong with that guy?… ELMO IS A CHILD.”
He said Davis is a “stupid, self-centered, tone deaf asshole.” In the same post, Wheaton also disclosed that he was physically and verbally abused by his father and felt activated by David and Elmo’s interaction.
“I’m a 51 year old man and my heart is pounding right now,” Wheaton wrote, “recalling how I felt when I was a little boy who loved Grover the way today’s kids love Elmo.”
And, of course, others still found posts like Osborn’s and Wheaton’s to be a complete overraction.
“Crying at the type of person who’s legitimately pissed off that Larry David punched Elmo or whatever,” @eventualforever tweeted.
“Was not expecting to see people be just as upset about Elmo being punched by Larry David (for a joke) as Will Smith slapping Chris Rock,” Edgar Ortega wrote. “But I guess here we are.”
Elmo, for his part, seems to not have dwelled on the incident. It was his birthday over the weekend, and he tweeted that he enjoyed celebrating it and is doing “great.”
“Thank you for checking in,” Elmo tweeted on Feb. 3. “#EmotionalWellBeing”