Stranger Things’ David Harbour Stars as Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch

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Stranger Things’ David Harbour Stars as Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch

David Harbour of Stranger Things brought his gruff Jim Hopper charm to Saturday Night Live this week, pulling host duties on the long-running sketch series for the first time. And in one truly hilarious pre-recorded bit, SNL offered its take on Todd Phillips’ new film Joker—all by way of a gritty Oscar the Grouch origin story.

The segment, a trailer for a film “brought to you by the letter R, for graphic violence, nudity and potty mouth,” is a perfect Joker homage. Harbour plays an initially mild-mannered garbage man named Oscar, who can’t help but notice that Sesame Street is getting a lot tougher than it used to be. Mr. Snuffleupagus (Kenan Thompson) is an abusive pimp, and Ernie (Mikey Day) just died in Bert’s (Alex Moffat) arms after being stabbed by a mugger for refusing to hand over his rubber ducky.

“Is it me, or are things getting worse out there?” Harbor tells his social worker (Ego Nwodim).

Naturally, he then transforms into the Grouch, putting on green face paint and bushy eyebrows in the mirror in exactly the same way Joker dons his clown make up. Harbor pauses for a little staircase dancing in true Joaquin Phoenix Joker style—the stairs used in the SNL short even appear to be the same ones that were featured in the film. (Those particular steps are in the Bronx, not too far away from SNL’s Rockefeller Center Studio.) It all adds up to a pretty perfect parody—check it out below.

Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.

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