Hosting a kids’ show must be an extremely odd show business experience. It makes a person famous, but only to an extremely specific segment of the population. No one understands this weird quasi-celebrity status better than actor and musician Steve Burns, who donned a striped green shirt and solved household mysteries with an animated blue puppy on Nick Jr.’s Blues Clues from 1996 to 2002. In September 2010, Burns took to the stage of New York’s Players Club to deliver a monologue appropriately titled “Fameishness” as part of the live storytelling forum The Moth. The theme that night was “Tangled Up: Stories About Blue.” A clip of this performance was recently posted on Reddit, spurred by the 20th anniversary of Blue’s Clues. In the video, Burns talks about his adventures hosting the educational children’s show and how it led him on what must be the single strangest date of his life. It’s a slightly risqué anecdote but ultimately a heartwarming one.
In the monologue, Burns says that he took his role on Blue’s Clues very seriously but worried that he was the wrong man for the job, since he was not a qualified expert on childhood development. Also, since he used his real first name on the air and talked directly to viewers through the camera, the distinction between the actor and his role was blurred. But being semi-famous had its perks, as when Burns was named a “most eligible bachelor” by People one year. This garnered a fan letter from a swimsuit model who had also been in Playboy. At the urging of the Blue’s Clues animators, Burns consented to go on a date with this admirer. Their evening was far from magical, though, partly because Burns felt an obligation to behave in a manner befitting the host of Blue’s Clues. The show is on his mind the whole time. In fact, one of the date’s few highlights was when he crashed a kid’s birthday party while in character.