Though he’s been a mainstay on Sesame Street for decades, Big Bird said getting name-dropped by Mitt Romney this past week made him feel like he’s famous.
“I was walking down the street and I felt like everybody recognized me,” he said during a rare nighttime sojourn, an appearance on Saturday Night Live. “It’s so weird to think that just a few days ago, I could just blend in like any other normal eight-foot-tall talking bird.”
Big Bird and his show’s network, PBS, became a hot topic after the Oct. 3 debate between Romney and President Barack Obama, when Romney said he would end the subsidy to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as a means to trim the national deficit.
“I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too,” Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer. “But I’m not gonna keep on spending money on things to borrow from China to pay for.”
Romney’s specific targeting of PBS attracted criticism, given that the $444 million subsidy accounted for .037 percent of the $1.2 trillion deficit. However, Sherrie Rollins Westin, executive producer of Sesame Workshop, the non-profit group behind the show, recently told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien the bulk of the show’s funding comes through sales of licensed products, sponsorships and donations.
“Quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting,” Westin said. “But when they always try to tout out Big Bird and say, ‘We’re going to kill Big Bird,’ that actually is misleading. Because Sesame Street will be here. Big Bird lives on.”
Big Bird didn’t directly address Romney’s threat to fire him, but he did tell “Weekend Update” host Seth Meyers he got a lot of tweets on the subject — just not the social media kind.
“No, I’m a bird,” he said. “Tweeting is how we talk.”
Watch Big Bird’s appearance on SNL, posted Sunday on Hulu, below.