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September 2, 2015

'Yo Gabba Gabba!' 101: A Primer

by Marina Zogbi, posted Nov 27th 2010 2:30PM
Yo Gabba Gabba!If you have a young child, you can stop reading now because you're undoubtedly already acquainted with 'Yo Gabba Gabba!' and are either completely addicted or a bit tired of it.

For everyone else -- those baffled by references to "dancey dance" or by adult friends singing about a party in their tummy -- this primer is for you.

'Yo Gabba Gabba!' is a surreal and wildly popular live-action kids' show that has aired on Nick Jr. since 2007. It stars the fun, upbeat DJ Lance Rock and five colorful monsters who live in his boombox. At the start of every episode, Lance utters the show's title and these magic words bring the creatures to life.

'Yo Gabba Gabba!' was created by Christian Jacobs (of the band Aquabats) and Scott Schultz (of Majestic) and is heavy on music, dancing and hip, diverse special guests. On March 8, 2010 the show began its third season, which was hotly anticipated by preschoolers and parents alike.

Anthony Bourdain in a March 2010 episode

The Cast

Aside from DJ Lance (Robertson), who looks and moves like the lost fourth member of '90s musical trio Deee-lite, there are: Muno (bumpy red Cyclops), Plex (magic robot), Toodee (blue cat-dragon), Brobee (little green-striped guy), and Foofa (girlish pink flower bubble).

Regular cast members include hip hop star Biz Markie, who teaches kids beatbox rhythms, and composer/Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh, who gives drawing lessons. Did we mention that the show is hip?

Biz Markie teaches a Halloween beat

The Segments

Aside from the aforementioned Biz's Beat of the Day and Mark's Magic Pictures, there's Dancey Dance Time, when Lance or special guests teach the cast (and kids at home) some simple dance moves. There are also various lesson-learning segments involving the day's theme (Love, Move, Clean, Art), plus the ultra-cool animated Super Martian Robot Girl with its rockin' retro theme music.

Leslie Hall teaches a dancey dance

The Guests

Guests this season included Bourdain, Sarah Silverman, Weird Al Yankovic and Mos Def, which is typical of the show's adventurousness. Past visitors to Gabbaland have included Elijah Wood (whose 'Puppet Master' dancey dance was tremendous), Tony Hawk, Laila Ali, Andy Samberg, Rachel Dratch and Jack Black.

Black, who danced up a storm and sang 'It's Not Fun to Get Lost' among other tunes, seemed -- unsurprisingly -- totally at home on set.

Jack Black's jig

The Music

'Yo Gabba!''s eclectic musical guest lineup is the main reason childless people watch the show; it also keeps parents as happily engaged as their toddlers. The Shins, The Roots, Of Montreal, Ladytron, MGMT and The Ting Tings are just some of the luminaries who have performed ditties like 'Brush, Brush, Brush' and 'Be Nice to Animals.' One of the show's catchiest, most popular tunes, 'There's a Party in My Tummy' is guaranteed to have you humming "so yummy, so yummy" under your breath for days.

Chromeo performs 'Nice 'n' Clean'

The Live Show

Last May 'Yo Gabba Gabba!' toured eastern Australia (where it's an equally big smash), before selling out venues in New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas. Next month, 'Yo Gabba!' hits the road again with stops in the Midwest and Canada. Given that surprise guests have included Devendra Banhart, Jon Heder, and Sarah Silverman, parents are often more psyched to go than their kids.

'Yo Gabba Gabba!' live show with Snoop Dogg

The Future

The show's creators say there's a movie in the works, which will undoubtedly be a monstrous success. Though some snipe about the show's hipness overload and general weirdness, kids themselves cannot get enough of DJ Lance and Gabbaland. Hey, if the next generation learns to 'Love Every Living Thing' and 'Look Both Ways,' while developing an appreciation for cool music at the same time, we can't really object. As the band I'm From Barcelona sang in Season 2, 'Just Because It's Different Doesn't Mean It's Scary.'

Are you a fan of 'Yo Gabba Gabba'?

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