Thursday, July 28, 2011

Yo Gabba Gabba

My first post by reader request! Yo Gabba Gabba... I don't even really know where to start. Parents on Yo Gabba Gabba can be divided into two categories: "Love it" (for whatever reason), and "Hate it because it's a toddler acid trip". Now, for me, I think the 70's "H.R. Pufnstuf" was way worse on the latter claim. This is just the 2000's version of that. Really. People in big costumes singing songs in styles popular in the day. It's that simple. I'll admit, initially, I was in the "this is too weird and it creeps me out" category, but after I gave it a chance (with prodding from an awesome set of parent friends of mine, they know who they are), I learned to love it. I'm a huge fan of DJ Lance now.

If you've never seen this show before, let me introduce you to the cast of characters. First, DJ Lance Rock, the guy in the orange furry hat. He's the emcee of Gabba Land. That boom box he carries also houses the figures of the five other critters, who come to life with his imagination. (Stay with me here, I promise, I'm not smoking anything!) The intro song introduces each characters... Muno, "He's tall and friendly" (who you may recognize from those car commercials where the kid's toys borrow the SUV), Foofa "She's pink and happy", Brobee, "The little green one", Toodee "She likes to have fun" (interjection: she's the blue cat thing... I think she gets the short end of the stick as far as the song goes), Plex "A magic robot". Easy enough. Still with me? Okay, good. Take another sip of coffee.The characters reside in "Gabba Land" and each have their own realm. Well, except for Plex. He has a charging station in between Foofa's and Brobee's realms.

The best part of Yo Gabba Gabba is definitely the guest stars. There are some regulars, and then a list dozens of celebrities long for the "Dancey-Dance" portion. The regulars include Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, who teaches kids to draw random things that then animate themselves to life, Biz Markie, who does "Biz's beat of the day" and teaches kids a fun beat-box noise, and Jack McBrayer who often appears with Paul Scheer to tell the "Knock-knock joke of the day". Jack Black and Weird Al Yankovic have both had entire episodes.  Amy Sedaris (of "Strangers With Candy" fame) was the tooth fairy for Muno in an episode. Other notable guests for "Dancey-Dance" segments have been Andy Sandberg, Rachael Dratch, Melora Hardin (Jan on The Office), Tony Hawk (who cheated and didn't actually dance at all, but skateboarded... a bone of contention for me), and Sarah Silverman, among others. There are also musical guests for the "Super Music Friend Show" portion, where DJ Lance gives the Gabba crew a giant TV to play a song, and they all dance around to it in between snippets of a YGG special music video. Musical guests include (but are not limited to!) The Shins (see the Super Music link above!), The Aquabats, Weezer (dressed as large bugs), The Ting Tings, and The Roots. Needless to say, all of this involvement is more for the parents, and it really does make the show way more awesome.

The show jumps around in small segments, between little stories with the YGG gang learning a lesson about being patient, cleaning up or sharing, musical interludes, segments I've already mentioned, and fun 8-bit animations featuring real kids who "like to dance!" (think original Nintendo or even Atari). There are also segments such as "Cool Tricks", where a real kid shows off a fun hidden talent like playing the piano, doing a hula, or even just balancing a spoon on their nose. The whole thing is wrapped up with DJ Lance reviewing what was done on the show that day, and then dancing to a remix of all the songs they sang.

I can't do this post without some video fun... here is my favorite song from Yo Gabba Gabba, where Muno raps about why he likes bugs so much (sorry for the poor quality, it's the best I could find that was able to be embedded):

Come on, that song is hardcore awesome. Admit it.

Yo Gabba Gabba plays on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. at various times throughout the day and night. Both channels are only available by subscription to a cable or satellite provider, please check local listings. There are also tons of CDs, DVDs, and toys to expand your YGG experience. And recently, there has been a world wide live tour (attended and very highly spoken of by a friend of mine in Australia at the Sydney Opera House)!

Age appeal is pretty broad ranging, in my opinion. The music is fun for all ages, child and adult alike. The lessons might be best suited to preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school kids, but the coolness factor lasts long beyond those years. There are also fun tunes and bright happy colors for the younger viewers. My son enjoyed it from quite a young age.

What your child learns:
  • Social and Emotional Development: Emotions, patience, sharing, kindness, caring for the earth, empathy, cultivating friendships, eating healthy, jokes, hidden talents.
  • Mathematics: Patterns, counting, colors, shapes.
  • Music and Dance: Different kinds of music, dance moves, fun in movement, singing, different kinds of instruments, beat patterns.
  • Pre-Reading Skills: Story telling, remembering what happened in a story, reading encouragement.
As a parent watching, there are tons of things to get you interested, including your favorite bands and celebrities. If you grew up in the 80's or 90's, there is also a bit nostalgia factor between the 8-bit animation and random references like Plex playing a keytar. The voices might be a little annoying (Muno is kind of high pitched, and Brobee and Toodie are kind of whiny), but there is so much more to like than just the basic five characters. I implore you to give it a chance. Yes, it's weird for a kids show, but remember that kids like weird. Take it for what it's worth and I bet you'll really like it.

In fact, here's the official Yo Gabba Gabba YouTube channel... go and waste some time watching the awesome :) You can tell your co-workers that you're just listening to your iPod. Our little secret.


  1. Toodee is a cat dragon. And woo for me being mentioned!

  2. My personal fave song is "There's a Party in My Tummy". My two year old will try most foods if I say it wants to go to the party in his tummy LOL. Love Yo Gabba Gabba!