Before you watch this sketch, I want to be sure to mention that a number of people report that watching it as children traumatized them for life. However, in my opinion, it's not that much of a tonal departure from the other Bert & Ernie sketches, and is not remotely the creepiest thing that I've ever seen on Sesame Street.
It's strange...I had absolutely no problem with this sketch when I was a kid, but there are certain aspects of it that I now find somewhat disturbing. I suppose I should elaborate on that, shouldn't I? Okay, first of all, are they statues or are they actually sarcophagi? If the latter, that immediately makes this sketch ten times creepier.
This is arguably Bert & Ernie at their most Abbott-y and Costello-ish, and I enjoy that aspect of it. The fact that Bert doesn't believe Ernie contributes to that A&C feeling, but it also bothers me a little bit. It's reminiscent of the whole "nobody-believes-that-Snuffy-is-real" debaucle; maybe I will write about that in depth someday, because it was a really big deal to me at the time (and a much bigger deal than I was aware of at the time), but I don't have time to get into it today.
With that said, I'm really glad that they don't play to the lowest common denominator when they're creating content, that they don't say, "Oh, we can't do that because it might scare some kids," or "Oh, we can't do that parody because the kids won't get it." They work under the assumption that kids are smart and capable enough to get what they're doing. This is not to say that everything they do is successful; sometimes they do go too far and create a sketch that's too scary or that goes over kids' heads, but in those scenarios, they listen to their audience and act accordingly. I just think it would be self-defeating to try avoid doing anything in the first place that might be scary, because different people are scared by different things. I remember that when my younger brother was very, very little, he was scared of the Count. I myself remember being really creeped out by "Disco Frog" when I was little, but now I think it's completely brilliant. You just never know, and I think it's good to give things a chance to succeed.
Anyway, about this sketch, I just now noticed that Bert's jacket is neatly buttoned up, while Ernie's jacket is open. Those little details really speak to their characters. And yet, there's also an interesting role reversal here: usually Ernie is eager to try something new while Bert is reluctant; here it's the opposite.