Lamb Chop’s Play Along and the legacy of Sheri Lewis

A few weeks ago I remembered the show Lamb Chop’s Play Along and started watching it on YouTube. This wasn’t a show I loved as a kid. It was just a show I sometimes watched as a kid, and as far as children’s media goes, I can’t say there’s much to Lamb Chop’s Play Along that justifies watching it in 2022. It’s like a half-caffeinated Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood with sassy puppets thrown in. Fun for a few minutes, but after that, you feel like watching Peewee’s Playhouse instead.

But this was only the tip of the Lamb Chop iceberg. I mentioned to my wife that there was another Lamb Chop show I vaguely recalled, one where Lamb Chop and the gang live in a beachside pizzeria. My wife, of course, thought this may have been a decades-old fever dream, but after searching “lamb chop” + “pizza” on YouTube, I found what I was looking for: Charlie Horse’s Music Pizza. It’s a twisted, sickening little show, and it features Dom DeLuise and a man in a terrifying orangutan suit delivering pizzas on roller skates. And sadly, this was the last show Sheri Lewis, the creator of Lamb Chop, was involved in before dying of cancer.

There’s something sad about Sheri Lewis and her legacy. On one hand, most people are at least vaguely familiar with her work and her intellectual properties, but unlike the characters on Sesame Street, none of the characters from the Lamb Chop cinematic universe are household names these days. The only evidence I see of Lamb Chop these days are those chew toys that every dog owner born before 1970 seems to have lying around.

I’m talking about these.

But the Sheri Lewis I knew was only the child-friendly Sheri Lewis. Just take a look at this routine she did with Lamb Chop and tell me she isn’t the Yngwie Malmsteen of ventriloquism: a virtuoso who, despite her tremendous skill, remains largely overlooked by the unwashed masses. She also had a guest spot on The Nanny that was hilarious. There’s also a Lamb Chop Chanukah special, which I’m definitely putting on my Holiday playlist this year, along with a “Passover Surprise.” I don’t know what the surprise is, but I’m sure it will terrify Lamb Chop.

Shhh. Nobody tell Lamb Chop why it’s called Passover.”

Coming up in October, University Press of Kentucky will be publishing a biography about Sheri Lewis and her work in puppetry and television, which I’ll definitely be ordering when it’s available. It’s co-written by Mallory Lewis, Sheri Lewis’s daughter and current Lord & Master of Lamb Chop, who also has a cameo page. For just $50, you can have Lamb Chop quote Scarface, The Princess Bride, The Dark Knight Rises, or whatever other movie you’d like to hear this adorable sock puppet re-enact.

Sheri Lewis, like youth, was wasted on Young Lane. Parents, if you’re going to introduce your children to Lamb Chop’s Play Along or any other Lamb Chop media, make sure you introduce it to your kids like you’re pouring them their first glass of fine wine. Don’t stand by as they barbarically chug it down. Guide them through the finer points that only a seasoned connoisseur can appreciate. And afterwards, drop $50 so you can watch Lamb Chop sing Nicki Minaj.