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Theatre / Avenue Q

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Welcome to Avenue Q!

The sun is shining, it's a lovely day
The perfect morning for a kid to play
But you've got lots of bills to pay
What can you do?
You work real hard and the pay's real low
And every hour goes oh so slow
And at the end of the day, there's nowhere to go
But home to Avenue Q
You live on Avenue Q
Your friends do too
You are twenty-two
And you live on Avenue Q
You live on Avenue Q
You live on Avenue Q!

Robert Lopez and Jeffrey Marx's multiple Tony Award–winning musical about a group of friends in a New York City neighborhood trying to live out their dreams, despite such mundane obstacles as trying to hold a job. The show is loosely based on and inspired by Sesame Street, though it handles adult themes such as sex, drinking, and pornography. Much of the humor is crude and the language is quite foul, and there is one on-stage depiction of puppet sex, so despite appearing to be a children's show, it is very definitely for mature audiences.

At least one song from the show, "The Internet Is for Porn", has become incredibly popular on the web after being used for a number of user-produced videos.

All of the characters except for Brian, Christmas Eve, and Gary are puppets. The singers are on stage, dressed in black, and although the audience is supposed to ignore their presence, they tend to act along with their characters. The puppets are supposed to represent humans, although the two monsters (Kate and Trekkie) are treated as a separate race, just like white, black, etc., and are distinguishable by the fact they're plush, while the other puppets are slightly fuzzy felt.

The show premiered Off-Broadway in March 2003 for a 3-month run, and on Broadway that July for a run that lasted until September 2009. There have been numerous other productions since the Broadway debut, including a 10-year Off-Broadway run that began shortly after the first Broadway production closed (so 2009-19).

Has a character sheet.

The main characters of the show are:

The Internet is really really great! (FOR TROPES!)

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: It's harder to notice because the tempo slows down for the part, but the last few notes of "What do you do with a BA in English" say "the human" as "THE huMAN".
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Gary Coleman gives a shrug-nod when everyone sings how much his life sucks, because it's true.
  • An Aesop: The show parodies the way Sesame Street delivers morals through simple songs and Audience Participation bits. The show uses those children show tropes while dropping more adult aesops like how nobody is above having racist thoughts. The purpose of mocking this trope is to deliver the show's earnest message that Big Bird isn't going to hold your hand while you learn how to be an adult, that's something you need to figure out for yourself.
  • Affectionate Parody: The creators of the show have an admiring attitude towards Jim Henson's works (and a number of them actually worked for Henson, to the point that they had to convince them not to sue over the similarities to Sesame Street). They were thrilled when Jane Henson (Jim Henson's widow) saw the show and loved it.
    • The premise of the show itself could also be one to RENT, as it takes place in an obvious parody of the Lower East Side and features various young people trying to find their way.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: The Bad Idea Bears, but with sex and alcohol.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: And I quote,
    Nicky: Schadenfreude, huh? What's that, some kind of Nazi word?
    Gary: Yup. It's German for "happiness of the misfortune of others."
    Nicky: "Happiness of the misfortune of others"? That is German.
  • All Just a Dream: Rod finding out that Nicky is in love with him, too.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Trekkie's belief that "The Internet Is for Porn" is heartily backed up by all the guys of Avenue Q, much to Kate's disgust. The possibility that women "unzip their flies" as well is never entertained.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: Averted; the play is inspired by Sesame Street, but not directly based on any previous work.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The puppet characters have a broad range of skin colours: Princeton is orange, Rod is blue, Nicky is green, Lucy the Slut is pink, and Trekkie Monster is covered in reddish-brown fur. Ironically, Kate Monster's tan fur is the most human-like, despite her being a "monster" puppet.
  • Animated Actors: Fairly ambiguous; just like the actual Muppets, the characters often appear in amusing interviews, videos and other events where they interact with the crowd and talk about their experiences on the show, though it's unclear whether they're treating the play as a play or as an actual series of events.
  • Animated Shock Comedy: Fits pretty well in this category, despite not being animated.
  • The Artifact: Trekkie's name is one from when he was going to be a Star Trek fanboy, hence the nickname. This stayed even after he became the porn addict he is now.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Christmas Eve, with an extra helping of Japanese Ranguage.
  • Aside Glance: During "The Internet Is for Porn", Trekkie Monster sometimes gives an exasperated one of these after Kate suggests that "Normal people don't sit at home and look at porn on the internet." If the actor is a Large Ham, he will instead run across the front of the stage trying to look every member of the audience in the eye.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: When Christmas Eve breaks into "Japanese," it's just gibberish.
  • Ass Shove: In "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Making Love)":
    Princeton: [gasp] You can't put your finger there! [gasp] PUT YOUR FINGER THERE!
  • The B Grade: In the song "Schadenfreude", one of the examples Gary Coleman and Nicky give of other people's suffering that is fun to watch is "Straight A students getting B's".
  • Bad Girl Song: "Special" as sung by Lucy The Slut, in which she attempts to seduce whoever might be listening. But then, she's putting on a burlesque show.
  • Betty and Veronica: Kate Monster and Lucy are the Betty and Veronica, respectively, to Princeton's Archie.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Princeton realizes he may never find out what his purpose is, and he may not even have one, and that every good thing in life is only temporary. But at the same time all the bad things in life are only temporary too, and instead of worrying about the future, it's best to just enjoy what you have for now. He also does help Kate open her monster school, and they reconcile. Meanwhile, Rod and Nicky make up and Rod becomes Christmas Eve's first client.
  • Big Rotten Apple: The show takes place in a scuzzy outer borough of New York City. "There is Life Outside Your Apartment" sees the cast almost getting shot when they attempt to leave.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Kate, the female monster, looks like a human covered in fuzz. Trekkie, the male monster, has bushy orange fur, horns, fangs, doesn't wear clothes, and generally looks completely inhuman.
  • Black Comedy Rape: In the Concert version of "The More You Ruv Someone" Kate is replaced by a chorus which at one point blurts out, "Stab Him, Rape Him!"
  • Blackface: Word of God says that the Hungarian localized version replaced Gary Coleman with Michael Jackson to avert this trope. This way, the character could be played by a white actor and still be considered African-American.
  • Bowdlerise: Avenue Q: The School Edition. This version was still made by the original creators but with some of the more offensive and provocative jokes removed in order for it to be "more accessible".
    • "The Internet Is for Porn" is replaced with "My Social Life is Online" where Trekkie Monster is re-characterized as a "stay-at-home monster" who only interacts with others through social networking sites.
    • "My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada" and "You Can Be As Loud as the Hell You Want" are removed in their entirety. Shortened instrumental versions are sometimes played during the scene transitions where the song would normally take place.
    • The Bad Idea Bears put less emphasis on alcohol and their suggestion for Princeton to hang himself is cut.
    • Mrs. Thistletwat is renamed Mrs. Butz and "The Slut" part of Lucy's name is dropped entirely.
  • Bridezilla: In a more literal sense than usual, during the "Purpose/Propose" nightmare sequence.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • "The Money Song" ends with most of the cast running up and down the aisles, soliciting donations for the "monster school" with outstretched hats (the donations go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS or, depending on the production, a regional charity). When they return to the stage, a character will usually ad lib some humorous remark about a non-monetary item they've collected.
      • In the UK, one character (usually Brian) comments that British money is no good in New York.
      • In Newcastle:
        Princeton: Apart from this Nando's card, [looks at the audience] which I'm keeping...
      • In the 2019 UK tour:
        Princeton: Apart from this Tesco Clubcard, [looks at the audience] which I'm keeping...
      • In Dunedin, New Zealand, a voucher for a local strip club was used in place of Newcastle's Nando's card.
      • When the touring production went to Manchester, they receive a weekend for two in Liverpool, and comment on how "that isn't worth anything!"
    • During "The Internet Is for Porn", Trekkie will pull an Aside Glance or point to some poor guy in the front row. Or gesture to multiple people in the front row.
    • Before Rod tells the rest of the cast that he's gay, he tells the audience to hold their applause so as not to spoil the Transparent Closet joke.
  • Broken Aesop: "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist". The message is that everyone's a little bit racist, but certain lines come off less as "everyone makes incorrect assumptions about other based on race" and more as "At Least I Admit It." For example, Kate, Princeton, and Gary laughing at Christmas Eve's accent, then telling Brian to "come off it" when he defends her, is more than a "little" racist.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: The Bad Idea Bears talk Princeton into taking Kate back to his apartment for sex while the two of them are out getting drunk.
  • Catchphrase: The Bad Idea Bears like to shout, "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" when someone agrees to one of their horrible proposals.
  • Clueless Aesop: The song "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" correctly points out that many of us have internalized prejudices we consciously know are wrong but at times get the better of us. However, rather than advising thinking more closely about what we say and believe in the name of self-improvement, the song advises the audience not to sweat it and just live with it. Because the best way to approach a major social problem is to just ignore it and tell the people affected by it to just suck it up, right?
  • Coax Them Out of the Closet: Rod is gay but in a Transparent Closet. His roommate Nicky keeps trying to get him to come out by doing things such as hooking him up with guys and singing a song about how "if you were gay, that'd be OK".
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A song, "Schadenfreude" (which is German for "happiness at the misfortune of others"note ), is made out of this. They even got to Reconstruct the idea at the end of the song!
  • Coming-Out Story: Rod's main story arc.
  • Content Warnings:
    • e.g. "PARENTAL ADVISORY: 60% adult situations and 40% foam rubber."
    • "Parental Advisory Sticker: You know where you can stick it."
    • "Parental Advisory: Full Puppet Nudity"
  • Crapsack World: Subverted. Avenue Q is actually a really bad place to live, but everyone makes the best of it.
  • Crosscast Role: Gary Coleman is frequently played by a woman.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Kate (though she's a monster in name only... well, she is a bit fuzzy).
  • Darker and Edgier: This is, in a nutshell, an adult version of Sesame Street.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the wake of the real Gary Coleman's passing, some repeat showings kill Gary off at the end of the show.
  • Defenestrate and Berate: Variation; Kate throws a penny off the Empire State Building, nearly killing Lucy, when she is Stood Up.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life:
    • Princeton just knows he's meant for great things, he just has no idea what they might be, nor how to find out.
      Princeton: [sung] I don't know how I know—but I'm gonna find my purpose! I don't know where I'm gonna look, but I'm gonna find my purpose!
    • Ultimately deconstructed, as he never finds his purpose, at least within the play itself.
  • Deus ex Machina: Trekkie's secret savings. When the rest of the cast is desperate for funds to give to Kate's dream of a monster school, as soon as he hears about the idea he's moved to donate millions of heretofore-unmentioned dollars, which he keeps in sacks in his apartment, instantly solving the problem.
    Trekkie: In volatile market, only stable investment... is porn!
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: Ricky, as a muscular gay replacement for Nicky.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Princeton (egged on by the Bad Idea Bears, who leave him a noose) and an unnamed extra during "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment." (Neither goes through with it.)
    • Subverted for Rod near the end, in that Christmas Eve is explaining to everybody that she has her first client, and they deduce that it's Rod. Then we hear what sounds like a gunshot. It's only a champagne cork popping, however; Rod opens it to celebrate. The look on Christmas Eve's face is hilarious!
  • Double Standard: During the song "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want", Brian, while having sex with Christmas Eve, shouts "WHO'S YOUR DADDY?!" which she is understandably grossed out by. But later in the song, she orgasmically shouts "WHO YOUR MAMA?!"
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite the description of the Bittersweet Ending above, it's worth noting that there's nothing stopping Princeton from finding his calling offscreen. And even if happiness is temporary, he really is quite content come the end of the play.
  • Educational Song: Parodied in "The Internet Is for Porn." Kate is lesson-planning a course about the Internet for her first time teaching solo, and Trekkie keeps interrupting to point out that the 'Net is really all about the porn.
  • Engrish: Christmas Eve generally speaks in an exaggerated Japanese accent, most notably constantly swapping L and R sounds.
  • Erotic Dream: "Fantasies Come True." Rod finds out that Nicky returns his feelings, but it's All Just a Dream.
  • Evolving Music:
    • "For Now" was originally written with the line "George Bush is only for now." When this inevitably came true, the lyric began to be replaced with several other things over its various runs, usually tied to current events.
      • "George Bush was only for now."
      • In the London production of the show, George Bush's name was replaced with Gordon Brown sometime in 2009. (Two nights after he lost the 2010 election, this line prompted a standing ovation.)
      • Or in Australia, "Tony Abbott is only for now." (He's the Federal Opposition Leader, and hilariously nuts.)
      • One of the most recent US showings went with "Fox News is only for now."
      • Glenn Beck is also a common replacement for George Bush in recent US showings.
      • In the California regional showing, it's "Prop 8 is only for now." Similarly, in North Carolina it's "Amendment One is only for now."
      • During the mid-2009 off-Broadway run: "Swine Flu is only for now."
      • Mid-2010: "BP is only for now."
      • The UK tour (Late 2010) had: "Lib Dems are only for now," referencing the unpopular move of the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition with their near polar opposites in Parliament, the Conservative Party.
      • The final performance on London's West End (Oct 2010): "This show is only for now." It also appeared in the recent Singapore tour, as well as the final performance of the original Broadway production in 2009.
      • The UK tour (Feb 2011) is using: "Jedward is only for now."
      • And the 2012 UK tour had "Justin Bieber". Same for New York as of late March 2014.
      • In New York as of November 2014, it's "Ebola".
      • In a Columbus, OH showing, it was replaced with "John Kasich is only for now," referencing the Ohio governor who had recently made the unpopular decision to turn down stimulus money meant to build up a rail travel system.
      • A Chicago production in 2012 had "Chick-fil-A is only for now." (Chick-fil-A is a Christian fast-food chain that revealed it gives money to anti-gay charities, which got it a huge boost from conservatives and a banning in Chicago. A few months later they claimed they wouldn't donate to anti-gay charities any more.)
      • In one Boston University production (November 2012) it's been changed to "TWINKIES!" (It also changed the Empire State Building to the Prudential Center, as well as many other local/school-specific references.
      • In March of 2013, it was changed to "The Pope!"
      • In a Toronto production 2013, it was "Rob Ford!"
      • In late June and July 2013, it was "DOMA!"
      • UK tour 2015 had it as One Direction.
      • UK tour 2016 had it as David Cameron.
      • As of 2016, it's Nastyman Trump, or sometimes "Fake News!"
      • The August-September 2016 Tallahassee, FL, community theater run has it as "Rick Scott!"
      • The 2019 UK tour initially used Donald Trump, but after she stepped down as Prime Minister, they started using Theresa May instead, prompting cheers.
      • This has since been changed to Boris Johnson, also prompting cheers.
      • A virtual original cast reunion for the Actors Fund in 2020 had "COVID is only for now".
    • Christmas Eve's line in "It Sucks to Be Me" about working in a Korean deli is sometimes changed to a Chinese restaurant.
    • In "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", the line about stupid Poles in the Broadway production was changed to French assholes in the West End production.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The opening number is very short, but sets up the main themes of the play perfectly.
    The sun is shining,
    It's a lovely day,
    a perfect morning
    for a kid to play,
    but you've got lots
    of bills to pay —
    what can you do?
  • Expy:
    • Trekkie, Nicky and Rod for Cookie Monster, Ernie and Bert respectively. Although Kate's design slightly resembles Elmo, Grover, or especially Prairie Dawn, she doesn't parody any specific Sesame character.
    • Princeton isn't any specific character's Expy either, but his design resembles Guy Smiley.
  • Extranormal Institute: Kate's dream of a special school for monsters, eventually realized as the Monsterssori School.
  • The Face of the Sun: The show opens with a Sesame Street–like video of the sun shining and smiling ("The sun is shining, it's a lovely day") until clouds marked with various companies appear ("But you've got lots of bills to pay!").
  • Family-Friendly Stripper: Lucy The Slut gives vibes of this, as she puts on a very suggestive performance, but does not actually strip down.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • "Monsters" sometimes face mild discrimination—with their only biological difference being fur as opposed to... cloth... covering their bodies. (Well, Kate is a fuzzy human, but Trekkie looks like he stepped out of a sexually frustrated version of Where the Wild Things Are.)
    • Lampshaded by "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist".
  • Gay Conservative: Rod, the closeted Republican investment banker.
  • Gayngst: Rod, who is at first in denial about his sexuality, and then later terrified of revealing it to everyone else.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Rod once again—literally. "Her name is Alberta, she lives in Vancouver..."
  • Going Commando: Brian's song "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today." Five lines all about his lack of underwear is what passes for an opening act at the nightclub. No wonder he hasn't hit the big time.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: The Bad Idea Bears, although as the name suggests they're both Bad Angels. The male bear comes up with horrible advice, and the female reinforces it.
  • Good Feels Good: The central message of "The Money Song".
  • Hard Truth Aesop: It comes with the territory of "Sesame Street for adults."
    • "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" speaks for itself. Both it and "Schadenfreude" have more or less the same message: it's not nice, but everyone does it to a certain extent.
    • You may never find your singular "purpose" in life, no matter how hard you try. While it's ultimately positive, it's not the highest note to go out on, and the show can be read as rather open-ended as a result.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?:
    • "My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada".
    • Also, "If You Were Gay". "Because you see, if it were me, I would feel free to say that I am gay (but I'm not gay)."
  • Henpecked Husband: Brian often puts up with his hot-tempered wife.
  • Homoerotic Dream: Rod dreaming about Nicky confessing his love for him is what prompts Rod to finally accept that he is definitely gay and that he's in love with Nicky.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Invoked in "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist." Christmas Eve gets offended when her white Jewish husband uses the term "oriental," but after he points out that she's racist too, she sings about how "The Jews have all the money and the whites have all the power!"
    • Rod, right before "If You Were Gay:"
      Nicky: Well Rod, there's not need to get defensi-
  • "I Am" Song: "It Sucks to Be Me" is one for the whole cast. Each one explains who they are and why their life sucks the most, until Gary Coleman comes in and lays out his life story to win the Misery Poker.
  • Ignoring by Singing: Rod tries using "la la la" when Nicky tries to discuss homosexuality with him in the "If You Were Gay" number.
  • I Have This Friend: Rod uses this one on Christmas Eve, trying to decide whether to come out. Upon hearing that the "friend" is a Gay Conservative, she tells him his friend should stay in the closet.
    Rod: Okay, thanks, bye! [to himself] Shit.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Highly encouraged by the cast, who sing "You Can be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Making Love)" while Princeton and Kate are having onstage puppet sex. Except for Christmas Eve, who angrily reminds her fiancé that it's not a race.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Rod's crush on Nicky, who isn't gay (but would feel free to say it if he was). Further played with and semi-subverted when Nicky introduces Rod to Ricky, a gay guy identical to Nicky save for his clothes and physical build.
  • Informed Judaism:
    • If Rod and Ricky's wedding photos are any indicator, it would seem Rod is Jewish.
    • Brian, going by his and Christmas Eve's wedding.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Averted by Christmas Eve in the song "It Sucks to Be Me," where her being Japanese prevents her from getting a job at a Korean deli or Chinese restaurant. However it's sometimes invoked through casting: some of the actresses playing the part have been of a different race, for instance the London production had a Filipina in the role at one time.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Trekkie and the rest of the guys certainly think so, to Kate's fervent disgust. The song is, of course, the Trope Namer.
  • Interrupted Suicide: The cast finds it very easy to talk a jumper down off the ledge during "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment."
    Voice offstage: I'm gonna jump!
    Everyone: Don't do it!
    Voice: Okay!
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Subverted. At the end of the reprise of "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English," Princeton starts getting excited about the idea that the purpose is to "take everything he's learning and put it into a show," only to be shut down flat by Brian and the new tenant.
    Brian: Are you high?!
    New Tenant And I'm not some dumb kid who doesn't know anything. Fuck you!
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Inverted, Lucy to Princeton:
    Lucy: [I don't need] some well-hung baby-faced kid, who leeches from his parents and can't get his act together!
    Princeton: Wait... I think I heard a compliment in there!
  • "I Want" Song: "Purpose".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: May as well be Jerkass Has a Point the musical edition:
    • Trekkie reveals, to Kate's disgust, that lots of ordinary people use the Internet for porn. Her denial isn't going to change that.
    • While Nicky is trying to get Rod out of his shell, straight-laced Rod is correct that Nicky is overstepping his bounds in forcing him out of the closet.
    • Princeton points out that everyone's a little bit racist, and trying to deny it makes you a hypocrite. Kate concedes, they get Gary to concede and even get Brian and Christmas Eve to admit it.
    • Gary Coleman says everyone laughs at other's misfortune, so you may as well join in; a homeless Nicky has no response except to agree.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Gary Coleman. Despite being a Deadpan Snarker, he does look out for his tenants and sometimes gives sensible advice.
    • Trekkie Monster, a "pervert" in Kate's words, contributes the money she needs to start her monster school so that no monster kid like them will be bullied while learning.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: One song tries to use this for ethnic jokes.
  • Large Ham:
    • Trekkie's loud abrasive personality is very conducive to awesome hamminess.
    • Gary falls into this on occasion.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Averted. Gary is played by a woman, but the part is written for an alto (low female) voice, to match the real Gary Coleman's high voice.
  • Leitmotif: Some of the puppets have recurring themes, usually tied to a song related to their character
    • Princeton's "What Do You Do With a BA in English?" plays in the background whenever he's trying to find his purpose.
    • "If You Were Gay" is a Recurring Riff for Rod.
    • Especially in the second act, "There's A Fine, Fine Line" for Kate representing her broken heart.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The lyrics almost never match the tone of the music, particularly because the music sounds like it is straight out of Sesame Street, while the lyrics would feel at home on The Jerry Springer Show.
  • Manly Gay: Ricky, who sports plaid vests and wife beaters, has huge muscles, and has Perma-Stubble.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Princeton toward Kate Monster, as epitomized in the song "Mix Tape." The tape he makes for her is full of songs about how great friendship is along with the romantic ones.
    Kate: You've Got a Friend, The Theme from "Friends", That's What Friends Are For ... shit!
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Played with. Trekkie Monster is an antisocial shut-in (later revealed to have a Friendless Background) who is addicted to masturbating to porn, which Kate thinks is gross. However, during "The Internet is For Porn," he makes a point that all guys, including those with wives and sex lives like Brian, use the internet to masturbate.
  • Maybe Ever After: By the end of the show, Kate and Princeton have decided to try being a couple again by taking their relationship one day at a time.
  • Meaningful Name: A video screen reveals that Lucy's name is actually Slut, Lucy The.
  • Men Can't Keep House: As Nicky is straight and Rod a closeted gay, they're naturally messy and obsessively clean respectively.
  • Metaphorgotten: Eve loses Kate (and the audience) during "The More You Ruv Someone":
    Christmas Eve: Love!
    Kate Monster: Love!
    Christmas: And hate!
    Kate: And hate!
    Christmas: They like two brothers!
    Kate: Brothers!
    Christmas: Who go on a date!
    Kate: Who... what?
  • Misery Poker: The appropriately-named "It Sucks to Be Me." The cast introduces themselves by trying to one-up each other's terrible life stories. Gary Coleman (was rich as a child; had all his money stolen by his own parents) wins.
    All: Is there anybody here it doesn't suck to be?
  • Mistaken for Racist: Subverted; Princeton is briefly, before most of the cast decides that "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist."
  • Muppet: All the characters except Brian, Christmas Eve and Gary are portrayed by puppets that intentionally resemble those used on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Subverted, nay, annihilated by Lucy The Slut. Yes, that's her name.
  • Near-Death Experience: To Lucy, thanks to Kate, who accidentally hits her with a penny dropped from the Empire State Building and puts her into a coma. She finds religion afterward.
  • No Antagonist: The only true "antagonist" in the musical is the main cast's various issues. Lucy comes closest to being one, due to being the primary obstacle in Princeton and Kate's relationship, but that's only one aspect of the story and thus not enough to qualify her as a Big Bad, not to mention she's not really evil, just promiscuous and kind of petty. The most evil characters are the Bad Idea Bears, but they have very few appearances and may just be the personification of Princeton's own negative thoughts.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Insistently averted: "I'm Gary Coleman, from TV's Diff'rent Strokes / I made a lot of money that got stolen by my folks!" (In the original Broadway production, and most subsequent American shows, Gary Coleman is played by a woman. For the London production, who might not know the show, Gary Coleman is played by a man.)
    • Even more insistently averted in the Israeli production, which replaces Coleman's character entirely with local actress Michal Yanai, then actually got Michal Yanai to play the role.
    • Hungarian productions replace Gary Coleman with Michael Jackson.
  • "No Talking or Phones" Warning: A bonus online spot featured the Bad Idea Bears pressuring a guy to use his phone in the theater, resulting in everybody around him — both in the audience and onstage — staring judgmentally. It ends with Trekkie Monster saying, "Don't be that guy. Turn off your phone."
  • Nostalgia Filter: The entire point of the song "I Wish I Could Go Back to College," when things were simpler and the future seemed assured. Nicky points out, however, that to go back to college now would make him the creepy old guy on campus.
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: "If You Were Gay."
  • Odd Friendship: Rod and Nicky fit this trope right down to the "neat guy and slob" archetype.
    Rod: You leave your clothes out! You put your feet on my chair!
    Nicky: Oh yeah?! You do such anal things like ironing your underwear!
  • Parental Savings Splurge: Gary Coleman's explanation for how he ended up as the superintendent at a run-down building on Avenue Q is that his parents got all the money he'd earned from Diff'rent Strokes and presumably blew through it before he was old enough to touch it, leaving him broke.
  • Phrase Catcher: Gary comments on how boring it is to hear his character's catchphrase said to him.
    Gary: "Watchoo talkin' about, Willis?" It gets old.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Christmas Eve wears the most tricked out Tokyo-techno wedding dress ever, covered in bright flashing lights.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Nicky tries to get Rod out of the closet, but Rod understandably isn't ready to talk about his sexuality with his friend and roommate, on whom he was a crush and states repeatedly that he's not gay. When Nicky crosses the line, Rod kicks him out until Nicky as an apology finds him a new partner.
  • Reconstruction: The show isn't just an adult parody of Sesame Street, but one made in the structure of its source material, complete with An Aesop that would actually be applicable to its target audience. It could very well be what Sesame Street would look like if it were made for young adults.
  • Retool: The show was initially designed to be a TV show on Comedy Central. But when that fell through they said, "well if we can't put this on TV, why not put it on Broadway?"
  • Pursue the Dream Job: After Kate quits her job as Mrs. Thistletwat's teaching assistant she decides to work towards her goal of opening her monster school.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect:
    • Nobody bats an eyelash at puppets and humans interacting (though a team-up with the cast of Fiddler on the Roof for Broadway Cares explored the idea in greater depth.)
    • In fact, the characters seem to think the difference between monster puppets and human puppets is more striking than between human puppets and human... humans.
    • The audience can easily be lulled into ignoring the actors onstage who are controlling the puppets. This can be jarring when the cast comes out for the curtain-call at the end without the puppets in their hands. ("Who's that guy?")
    • However, in various in-character interviews and events, the characters seem to be aware that humans and puppets are different (they sometimes reveal themselves as Animated Actors). One video featuring Rod even treats puppets as a separate race, with him calling himself "the first Republican Puppet-American."
  • Roommate Drama: In "It Sucks To Be Me", Nicky and Rod are introduced as best friends who hate being roommates:
    Rod: You leave your clothes out. You put your feet on my chair.
    Nicky: Oh yeah? You do such anal things as ironing your underwear!
    Rod: You make that very small apartment we share a hell.
    Nicky: So do you, that's why I'm in hell too!
  • Sadist Teacher: Kate's boss, Mrs. Thistletwat. She actually lampshades this herself as she's firing Kate, saying she never should've hired a monster:
    Kate Monster: Well, better a monster than a crabby old bitch!
    Mrs. Thistletwat: Crabby old bitches are the bedrock of this nation!
  • Same Race Means Related: Lampshaded. It is assumed that Kate and Trekkie are related because they have the same last name and because they're the only two monsters on the avenue. Kate debunks the claim and teaches a very important lesson that just because two people are the same race, it doesn't mean they're related.
  • Same Surname Means Related: Princeton asks Kate Monster if she and Trekkie Monster are related, as they have the same surname. Kate finds this incredibly racist.
  • See You in Hell: When Mrs. Thistletwat tells Kate that she's going to hell, Kate shouts, "See you there!"
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • "It Sucks to Be Me".
    • The part where Preston thinks his purpose is to create a theatre show about starting a new life after college and the difficulties of it, which is similar to the theme of the show itself, and everyone shoots him down.
  • Sex Montage: "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Making Love)" starts with Kate and Princeton having loud, nasty sex, then includes snippets (shown in silhouette) of Christmas Eve and Brian's sex life, and a brief glimpse of Trekkie Monster masturbating while on his computer. Gary and the Bad Idea Bears (who in some productions also start screwing each other) sing as everybody around them moans.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the "good songs" mentioned in "Mix Tape" is "Moving Right Along" from The Muppet Movie.
    • In "Purpose": "Could it be/Yes it could/Something's coming/Something good!"
    • The musical's logo is a fuzzy version of a New York Subway service bullet, in particular, the bullet used by the Q train from 1990 to 2001 when it operated on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.
    • The end of "Special" where Lucy repeatedly sings "For me" is an homage to the end of "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy, which is also in part about burlesque.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Explained lovingly in Christmas Eve's song, "The More You Ruv Someone (The More You Want To Kill Them)."
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: On an interpersonal level—Rod versus Nicky, best friends and roommates.
    Rod: You leave your clothes out, you put your feet on my chair!
    Nicky: Oh yeah?!? You do such anal things like ironing your underwear!
    Rod: You make that very small apartment we share—a hell!
    Nicky: So do you! That's why I'm in hell too!
    Both: It sucks to be me!
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: What makes the "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today" song memorable is how nobody laughs at it, with Christmas Eve just yelling at her husband to get a job.
  • Species Surname: Kate and Trekkie Monster (who are not related).
  • Stood Up: Kate, or so she thinks. Lucy stole the note she left for Princeton asking him to meet her.
  • Straight Gay: Rod nearly qualifies. Although his fashion sense is dull, his politics are conservative, and his job is in investment banking, his voice and mannerisms (he also loves musical theater) give away his orientation to everyone who meets him.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: A possible subversion, ironically enough, as one of the creators noted, "We're not subverting Sesame Street—Sesame Street itself is subversive!"
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Lampshaded when Nicky decides to help Rod get a boyfriend who is exactly his type. He finds a guy named Ricky who is exactly like Nicky. Rod is pleased.
  • Take a Third Option: In "It Sucks to Be Me":
    Kate: Whose life sucks more, mine or Brian's?
    Rod and Nicky: OURS!
  • Take That!: In "It Sucks to Be Me", the chorus involves Brian, Kate, Rod and Nicky all singing about how dreadful their lives are; cue Gary Coleman talking about his life, and everyone agrees that his life sucks the worst.
    [Alt. Chorus]
    All: It sucks to be you.
    Kate: You win.
    All: It sucks to be you.
    Brian: I feel better now.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The male Bad Idea Bear is blue and wears a bow-tie, while the female is yellow and wears a bow on top of her head. In some productions they're green and pink, respectively, instead.
  • The Three Certainties in Life: According to the song "For Now," "Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now."
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Christmas Eve is the Wife, Lucy the Slut is the Seductress, Kate is the Child.
  • Transparent Closet: Due to his campy tendencies, Rod's transparent closet is more like a mime in his glass box:
    Rod: Ahh, an afternoon alone with my favorite book: Broadway Musicals of the 1940s.
  • Trekkie: In early drafts Trekkie Monster was an actual Star Trek fan—that got changed due to potential copyright issues, but the name remains.
  • Tsundere: Christmas Eve, especially in her (mostly) solo song "The More You Ruv Someone (The More You Want to Kill Them)."
  • Twofer Token Minority: After Christmas Eve marries Brian, she is now a Jewish Japanese woman, or as fans put it "a kung fu Jew."
  • Uncommon Time: Several songs have bars of 6/4 sprinkled throughout and "A Mix Tape" has alternating bars of 4/4 and 7/8.
  • Unexplained Recovery: After being hit in the head by a coin Lucy's head falls off (twice) on the way to the hospital (off stage) but she survives and becomes an Evangelical Christian. Similarly, at the end of the show it's revealed that The Bad Idea Bears have become Scientologists.
  • The Vamp: Lucy The Slut.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The show's final skit for the annual BC/EFA Easter Bonnet Celebration before the Off-Broadway run closed in 2019 had one of these:
    • Princeton and Kate got married and opened Monsterssori schools all over the nation.
    • Christmas Eve made a mental health podcast called "Ruv Yourself."
    • Rod quit his investment banking job to start an antiquing business in New Jersey with Ricky.
    • Nicky started a cannabis delivery service.
    • Mrs. Thistletwat got a 3D-printed heart.
    • Lucy the Slut became a crusader for sex workers' rights.
    • Gary Coleman opened an orphanage for unemployed child actors. ("The Ooorphaaaage!")
    • Brian became "the phantom pooper of Ripley-Grier.note "
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The musical takes place in an unidentified "outer-outer borough" of New York City. Notably, there is no Avenue Q anywhere in New York City. South Brooklyn has a series of lettered avenues running from west to east, but what should be Avenue Q (the road between and parallel to Avenue P and Avenue R) is named Quentin Rd instead, having been renamed after World War II in honor of Quentin Roosevelt (Teddy's youngest son), who was killed in action in World War I.
  • A World Half Full: The show makes no bones about the fact that Avenue Q is a terrible place to live, but it also makes the point that things always have the potential and ability to get better, and that everything in life, the good and the bad, is "only for now."


Video Example(s):


Avenue Q

Princeton and Kate Monster make very high energy and VERY high decibel love to each other, much to their neighbors' annoyance. However, at least Gary Coleman and The Bad Idea Bears don't mind it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / RightThroughTheWall

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