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  • -Mo Willems, you are one of my favorites.

  • Thank you so much for being on the show.

  • -I'm really happy to be here.

  • -You taught my kids how to read,

  • so I want to thank you because...

  • -Oh, thank you.

  • -...we are obsessed with all of your books,

  • but "Elephant and Piggie" books, I think, personally,

  • as an adult, as a parent, I don't get tried reading them.

  • I look forward to them. I love how creative they are.

  • I just love how honest they are and how funny they are.

  • And I've read them probably more than you have,

  • if that's possible. -I would hope.

  • I mean, that's what they're --'

  • they're built to be read a billion times, you know.

  • -Yeah.

  • -It's not about the surprise at the end,

  • it's about the characters.

  • And one of the things that I do is I only put in

  • 49% of the book.

  • You're there, you're jazzed,

  • and you're performing because you're enjoying the book,

  • and that makes you come alive.

  • -You got your start on "Sesame Street," right?

  • -Which was totally an accident, you know.

  • I wanted to do sketch comedy,

  • and I was performing sketch comedy,

  • and I was with grownups, about grownups.

  • And when I got hired for "Sesame Street,"

  • I was like, "Oh, wow, I got on a sketch comedy show.

  • That's great."

  • -You were saying there's this one,

  • was it Rosita, the sketch that you wrote

  • for "Sesame Street"? -Yeah.

  • -Or a scene. -Yeah. And I think that --

  • So I'm really interested in failure,

  • and all my books are to a certain degree

  • about characters failing.

  • And at "Sesame Street," Rosita was going to learn

  • how to play the guitar, and at the end of the episode,

  • I wanted to make sure that she didn't.

  • And the producers, they came back to me and they were like,

  • "Listen, we like Rosita playing the guitar and all that,

  • but at the end she really needs to play the guitar."

  • And I was young. I was in my 20s.

  • So I said to the producers, "You guys come back tomorrow,

  • play me 'Stairway to Heaven,' and I'll change the ending."

  • -[ Laughs ] And the rest is history.

  • -I think that we really need to talk about failure,

  • because it's the only thing that all of us do every day.

  • It's the only thing we have in common is that we fail.

  • -Yeah, you're right. And you got take that risk

  • and you got to try certain things.

  • When this whole quarantine happened,

  • actually right even before it, you start a thing

  • called "Lunch Doodles" right out of the gate.

  • And I was like, "Wait, he's --"

  • 'Cause I thought -- I go, "Wait, we're going to do a show.

  • We have to do something. Really --"

  • And then someone was like, "Have you seen

  • what Mo Willems is doing?" I'm like,

  • "Is he doing a show already? We just started this."

  • Like, can't I have one thing?

  • -Well, that's -- well, Jimmy, this is --

  • really, the inspiration was I figured

  • if a talk show host can write a book,

  • then I should be able to do a show.

  • -[ Laughing ]

  • -Right? It's only fair. -Yeah, I agree. I agree.

  • -Look, I was terrified.

  • I with us going from Los Angeles

  • from meetings to D.C. to do a jazz doodle jam

  • with Jason Moran.

  • I was going to do some stuff with Ben Folds.

  • And it all disappeared.

  • And I've always realized that, like, if this is affecting me,

  • it's got to be affecting kids, like, how I feel,

  • how shocked I am, how much I need art.

  • Right? Because right now art is essential.

  • Science is going to get us out of this.

  • But art is going to get us through this.

  • We're going to be able to understand what's going on.

  • -I love that.

  • -We'll be able to handle our emotions.

  • So I knew that I needed to draw and doodle

  • just to feel a sense of self.

  • And if I need that, then probably kids need that as well.

  • So now is the time the get together and do something.

  • -You're right. You just got to keep -- yeah.

  • -So here's the challenge. I'm going to challenge you.

  • I'm going play a game with you. -Okay.

  • -This is a gamed called squillem.

  • I'm just going to make a little -- just a thing,

  • and then you're going to turn it into a drawing, okay?

  • And here we go. Just gonna do...

  • -I will try. -Just like that, right?

  • And then -- and it doesn't matter because, again,

  • there is no such thing as a wrong drawing, all right?

  • So I just made this, just a little squillem.

  • Right? Just a little thing. -Okay.

  • Going to turn around the drawing.

  • So here, I'm going hand it to you. Yeah.

  • -All right. Thank you very much.

  • -You got it? -I did get it, thank you.

  • -Take another pen and turn that into something.

  • What does that look like to you? That's half of a drawing.

  • What do you think you can make out of that?

  • -Okay.

  • -Yeah.

  • -I think I see something.

  • Now I'm getting into something else.

  • I don't know what it is. But I...

  • -You're giggling. So that's already a victory.

  • -[ Laughs ] I am giggling.

  • But it's just because it's really bad.

  • -No, no, no, no, no, no!

  • Let me be the judge of how terrible it is.

  • Oh, that's excellent!

  • What are talking about? That's fabulous.

  • -It's okay? -That's great.

  • No, absolutely.

  • -Like a poodle dog or something.

  • -Yeah, it's a thirsty poodle.

  • I think the thirsty poodle is

  • an unrepresented dog cartoon, you know?

  • -Thank you. -We need more thirsty poodles.

  • -Thank you. Finally!

  • I wish someone was around to hear it.

  • We need more of these. -[ Laughs ]

  • -We do. -Who was your idol

  • when you were growing up, Mo?

  • -Oh, Charles Schulz. Charles Schulz.

  • -And it was because -- -"Peanuts." Charlie Brown.

  • "Peanuts," when I was five years old,

  • I wrote Charlie Schulz a letter that said, "Dear Mr. Schulz,

  • can I have your job when you're dead?"

  • -[ Laughs ] Oh, my goodness!

  • Wow, cut to the chase.

  • -I know. And then I just waited,

  • because I was like -- and he not died for a long time.

  • -That was his response.

  • That was his response to you. -Yeah, he --

  • -He just not died. -Exactly.

  • -He continually not died.

  • And when he did pass, I was maybe in my late 30s, 40s.

  • I had become friends with Sparky's widow,

  • and she brought me to his studio and gave me

  • one of his nibs, which are the pens that you dip in the ink,

  • and I drew one of my books with his nib.

  • -No! -Yeah.

  • -That's so cool.

  • Doesn't that feel good? That's the --

  • -I -- It was great.

  • And what was crazy was it was so hard to draw with it,

  • I got angry at it.

  • You know, I was like, "This pen is difficult to use."

  • You know, "How dare you be good and good with a difficult pen?"

  • -[ Laughs ] Yeah, exactly.

  • -Before we go, though, I have something.

  • Okay, this is my fan thing. All right?

  • I just want to indulge it just for a second.

  • Before the pandemic, this show,

  • "The Tonight Show," was hosted by a guy

  • named Johnny Carson. -Of course.

  • -Right?

  • Johnny Carson, in between the bits,

  • there would be a thing that said "More to come."

  • It would be a drawing. Right?

  • Do you remember that? -"More to come." Yeah.

  • -The "More to come" drawing.

  • Now, when you're a kid, I'm assuming you wanted to be

  • on "The Tonight Show"? -Absolutely, yeah.

  • -I wanted to be the "More to come" guy.

  • -It would say "More to come"

  • and then you go to the commercial.