Written by Patrick McNamara
I’ve seen Yo Gabba Gabba! approximately 250 times. That calculation is rough as I crunched the somewhat plausible numbers super quickly in my head. If you don’t know what Yo Gabba Gabba! is or even means because you don’t have kids or kids don’t like you enough to tell you about it, it’s a 24 minute television show on Nick Jr. It’s about how music is awesome. Full disclosure, I came into the show with that very same assessment so I was perhaps prone to like it.
The goodnatured host of Yo Gabba Gabba! is DJ Lance Rock. He’s always smiling and wears a furry orange hat. He plays, introduces, dances, and does all sorts of things very well but I have yet to see him spin any records. Five assorted non-human creatures round out his inner circle. Foofa is a pink flower bubble thing and down for whatever. Brobee is a gentle green monster with really long arms (credible sources corroborate my opinion that he is the “funniest”). Toodee is a blue arctic cat-dragon and she’s pretty silly. Plex is your basic yellow robot. He’s cool. And Muno is a skinny red cyclops who seems to really enjoy life. They live in a magical boom box and come to life when DJ Lance opens its double doors. I can imitate all of their voices very well.
Because Yo Gabba Gabba! is a show about how music is awesome every episode has all sorts of songs. 24 minutes is a long time on television land. Some of the big time hits sung on Yo Gabba Gabba! include: “Balloons Make Me Happy” + “Don’t Be Afraid” + “All My Friends Are Different” + “There’s a Party In My Tummy” + “I’m So Happy.” I sing these songs often, whether the television is on or not. “Don’t Be Afraid” in particular has been stuck in my head the past six years. The chorus goes like this, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. It’s OK.” It’s a calming song and I sing it beautifully.
Recently, I went to see Yo Gabba Gabba Live! - the lively and colorful “from screen to stage” show/rock concert. It’s been cruising around cities on the “Music Is Awesome Tour” for a few years now. Thousands of excited children and their hero parents get to spend the hour (including intermission - concessions gotta make a living too) in a massive theater singing, listening, wiggling, holding still (this one is very brief), running in circles, going crazy, and doing all sorts of dance-y dances. Confetti is blasted from the sky and if you’re sitting/standing/wiggling near the front you just might get an exploding bubble shower or two. What goes up must - pop - come down.
During the show, with lights blazing and music blasting, kids have the freedom to get out of their seats and wander around. Our massive theater is your massive theater, the mood implied. A good dance-y dance is never done while sitting down. Security guards were stationed near the stage, however, to make sure the babies through six-year-olds didn’t get too out of line and to protect DJ Lance from potential adorable hugs.
(this is a good jam)
Besides dishing out life hacks like “don’t throw things at your friends” and “don’t bite your friends” Yo Gabba Gabba Live! teaches kids that going to concerts is really fun because listening to music and dancing is awesommmmmmme. This seems obvious to us now. But we didn’t always know. Everything we ever knew about how to behave at a concert we learned watching children’s television while Mommy and Daddy were trying to get some work done.
Near the end of the show we all sang a closing melody; the Yo Gabba Gabba! greatest hits collection. During this musical love explosion, an older security guard had his back to the stage, watching the crowd for any potential adorable hugs. I watched him scan the room. And then I clearly saw him start to mouth the lyrics to “There’s a Party In My Tummy” which was blasting the babies through 6-year-olds to a level approaching delightful. “There’s a party in my tummy, so yummy, so yummy! There’s a party in my tummy, so yummy, so yummy!” I saw him singing it. And he nailed every word too. I bet a wooden nickel he has grandkids who watch Yo Gabba Gabba! and now know what you and I know too.
Music is awesome.