Avenue Q is probably the funniest Broadway musical in the last 20 years. It takes a no-holds-barred approach to adult humor, as told through a medium no ’80s or ’90s kid could have issues connecting with: Sesame Street-style puppets. Seriously, show me a ’90s kid who didn’t love Sesame Street, and I’ll show you a heartless, communist sympathizer. Oscar the Grouch is an American treasure.
The musical’s relevance to our lives cannot be overstated. Music about your sex life? Check. The relevance of a BA in an unemployable major? Check. How much your life can suck sometimes? Check. Racism? Er…okay, maybe not that one. Though everyone is a little bit racist, sometimes.
With all that said, let’s break this down. Included are links to each of the songs on YouTube, so you can jam out to the sensual stylings of… singing, porn-loving puppets? There’s a basic plot overview here, but basically a recent grad (Princeton) moves to an outer, outer borough of New York called Avenue Q, where he encounters a bunch of different people struggling with various life an identity problems in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties.
1) “What do you do with a B.A. in English?”
The question of the century. For our generation, convinced from age three that Sci-Fi self-help book author is totally a viable and valid career pursuit, this song hits home. “Four years of college and plenty of knowledge have earned me this useless degree.” Pretty much. You know what my parents encouraged as a kid? My desire to, I shit you not, resurrect the dinosaurs via genetic manipulation. I was the Jurassic Park-obsessed 5-year-old. That’s not really possible, but my parents encouraged my interest. Admittedly, I love biology to this day, but still…temper those ambitions maybe a bit there, mom and dad?
2) “It Sucks to be Me”
Have you had a rough week at work? Is your boss an asshole? Are you unemployed? If any of these mean anything to you, this song will probably end up describing your life in agonizing detail before it’s through. If not, you have at least been in a Taxi with a dude who could make Pumba’s BO in The Lion King look healthy and entirely socially acceptable.
3) “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today”
Look, we’ve all spent the day at home, naked, at least once in our collegiate or postgrad careers. Especially if that day happened to be one with a monster hangover and a number of half-memories of a night where your dignity was last seen drowning itself in a dive bar bathroom. Take the advice within, put on some pants, and find a job.
4) “My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada”
For those of us doing the long distance thing, the struggle is real, and Avenue Q knows it. It also covers everyone who has ever either made-up a girlfriend (you’re not fooling anyone) and anyone who has recently been Catfished (no, the perfect 10 on Tinder is not interest in your brain, it’s a dude from Hawaii). Just listen and let your sorrows trouble you no more. Well, at least until you have to catch a flight to go see your girlfriend 800 miles away.
We’re all just looking for something to keep us happy and driven. I recommend listening to this one with a big glass of whiskey/wine and contemplating your future. I feel like it can be one of those “moment of clarity” songs, kind of like “Piano Man,” but with more puppet-influenced vulgarity.
6) “I Wish I Could go Back to College”
This is probably the reason you enjoy this website in the first place. We all miss that magical place filled with keg stands, debauchery, two-hour hangovers and poor decisions. College isn’t real life, but we all wish it could be. In reality, the adult world sucks. It would be much better if the real world was more that way, but good luck convincing your employer of that. I don’t think three-story beer bongs are allowed at the company picnic.
7) “There is Life Outside Your Apartment”
We’ve all had days where we wanted to hide from the world in our apartments for one reason or another, especially because of a bad breakup. Fear not, though. Unlike Mars, or your old university on a Sunday morning, there is intelligent, social life out there and plenty more people to meet and date. Put on some pants, make yourself look presentable and get out there. Then, listen to this to get yourself some confidence.
8) “The Money Song”
Helping other people by giving them money should make you feel better, according to this one. I certainly get where it’s coming from, but this still doesn’t make me feel much better when I drop 50 bucks on my bar tab for a bunch of my friends every week. Having more money than your friends and being employed really is the biggest Post Grad Problem sometimes. The reprise of the song shows Trekkie Monster donating 10 million dollars from his porn investment fund, which is hilarious.
9) “There’s a Fine, Fine, Line”
A song about fear of commitment and relationships ending poorly? Literally every one of us has been there, unless you live under a dating-proof rock or have decided to be entirely asexual (not always an unattractive idea in the postgrad dating world). That said, the reprise shows everything working out between Princeton and Kate, much like it eventually will for all of us. So, keep at it, everyone. You’ll find someone awesome eventually.
10) “The More You Ruv Someone”
Love is complex. I imagine love between two puppets would be a lot more complex, and something I just don’t want to think about. That said, this one makes some really good points. Sometimes, we’re just angry at our significant other because we care, and that’s okay. Sometimes it makes you angry, or as the song says, “sometimes the more you want to kill them.” I imagine this is how most of my exes feel.
11) “The Internet is for Porn”
The reason the internet was invented, contrary to popular belief, is actually just to be a giant porn repository. Do you know how long the average postgrad dry spell is? I’m going to say, based on limited research and solid guesswork, it’s like 6 months. Maybe it’s less, but anything longer than a month feels like an eternity. That’s why we have porn: to combat dry spells. Porn: a postgrad solution? I report, you decide.