That Time Tito Puente Stopped by ‘Sesame Street’ and Oscar the Grouch Caught Mambo Fever

Is there a grouch, curmudgeon, or grump in your life whom you’d like to bring the gift of joy? Or maybe you just want to torture them with a two-minute descarga of pure mambo ebullience? Well look no further, because this classic Sesame Street segment shows us that there’s no better way to get under the skin of a grouch than with a dose of Tito Puente.

In this three-and-a-half minute clip, El Rey de los Timbales inadvertently interrupts a “Grouchketeer” meeting being held on the block by Oscar the Grouch. When Puente throws a challenge their way — “I have a feeling we can even get grouches like you to dance” — he’s met with haughty disdain from the cynical puppet crew. That is, until the timbales start singing and Oscar’s clique is tearing up the dance floor alongside a handful of smiling kids wearing garbage lids as hats.

Before too long, Oscar himself — or “Oscár,” as Puente calls him — is exuberantly convulsing to Puente’s high-energy rhythms; though it seems Mr. the Grouch would prefer to be sitting through an offsite CIA interrogation as he begs Puente for mercy.

Broadcast in 1993, Puente was at the peak of his acting game following a recent cameo appearance in Mambo Kings, and the world-renowned showman doesn’t disappoint with his natural sense of humor and trademark baqueta-game.

So go grab that lovable cascarrabias in your life, and sit him down to watch this iconic piece of Latino Sesame Street history.