Yo Gabba Gabba!

yo gabba gabba by Brandon Bird

Yo Gabba Gabba! is an American children’s television show that airs on the Nick Jr. cable network. Created by Christian Jacobs (lead singer of the Aquabats) and Scott Schultz, the series premiered in 2007.

Popular artists appearing on the show include The Killers, Jimmy Eat World, Solange Knowles, Devo, Of Montreal, Chromeo, My Chemical Romance, Weezer, The Roots, MGMT, Jack Black, Tony Hawk, Elijah Wood, and The Ting Tings. Among the varied animation sequences during the show is ‘Super Martian Robot Girl,’ designed by indie cartoonists Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. The toy models of the characters that appear at the beginning and end of each show were made by designer toy firm Kidrobot.

Unlike most children’s shows, Yo Gabba Gabba was not developed by network executives. Instead the show was developed by two Southern California fathers with no previous experience writing for television let alone children’s broadcasting or education. They simply shared a mutual disappointment in kids’ television. They both wanted to design a kids’ show that was entertaining while featuring real artists and real performers. The pair first started working together as teenagers, producing and directing skateboarding videos. After doing some odd jobs here and there, Jacobs (also known as the MCBC of The Aquabats) and Schultz decided to try something different.

In 1999, after becoming parents themselves, the pair started playing around with ideas for children’s television. They later produced a pilot independently financed by small loans from friends and family. Even after producing the pilots, ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ did not get much attention until it started circulating on the Internet. It happened to get viewed by Jared Hess, the director of ‘Napoleon Dynamite,’ who then phoned Brown Johnson, the executive vice president and executive creative director of Nickelodeon Preschool and told her to check it out.

Characters on the show include DJ Lance Rock – A DJ who is the narrator and friend of the other characters. He is portrayed by Lance Robertson. Muno is a friendly male red cyclops. He’s the tallest, is somewhat clumsy and has a close bond with Foofa (though she also bonds with Brobee in the same way). He is also the band’s guitarist. Foofa is a female flower bubble character who’s ‘pink and happy.’ She loves flowers, rainbows and unicorns and can play the tambourine. Brobee is the smallest and the youngest of the gabbas, a small male green monster. He is the drummer for the Gabba band. He is the only ‘primary’ character whose facial expression changes depending on the situation; his usual smile turning into a frown, and vice-versa. He is often subjected to trying new foods. Toodee is a blue female arctic cat-dragon who likes to have fun (she has a close bond with Plex and is the bassist for the Gabba band). Plex is A male magic yellow robot. He is portrayed as being smart and as the leader of Gabba Land. Plex usually teaches lessons to his friends and is a father figure to the gang. He can also use his special ray to bring things into existence. He plays the keytar.

Regular segments include ‘Mark’s Magic Pictures,’ featuring Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO, drawing simple pictures that often come alive at the end of the segment; ‘Biz’s Beat of the Day,’ starring Biz Markie, demonstrating new beatboxing beats; ‘The Super Music Friends Show,’ featuring musical guests; ‘Dancey Dance Time,’ featuring celebrity guests (which Plex brings down to Gabbaland using his special ray) performing dance moves with the characters; ‘Cool Tricks,’ in which a child or adult demonstrates a special talent (e.g. gymnastics, breakdancing, playing a theremin or cup stacking); ‘Storytime,’ where a child narrates a story (e.g. ‘Goodnight Moon”); ‘Super Martian Robot Girl,’ featuring a helpful comic book-style superhero who saves the day, but only solves problems, everyday and fantasy, instead of battling crime; ‘Learn with Plex,’ a solo segment in which Plex teaches basic daily skills like brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, getting changed, etc; ‘Play Pretend with Muno,’ in which Muno encourages viewers to pretend along with him, as he imagines himself as various creatures and objects.

Other common segments include ‘Listen with Toodee,’ in which Toodee listens to sounds and encourages the viewer to help her identify them; ‘Color with Brobee,’ in which the viewer guesses what color Brobee is thinking of by the examples he gives; ‘Play Games with Foofa,’ in which Foofa solves simple puzzles, such as mazes, and encourages the viewer to help her find the solution; ‘DJ Lance Dance,’ in which DJ Lance Rock teaches the viewers a different dance; ‘Funny Faces,’ in which DJ Lance Rock encourages viewers to make funny faces; ‘Knock-Knock Joke of the Day,’ a segment where Jack McBrayer and Paul Scheer tell knock-knock jokes; and ‘Look Back At Today,’ each episode ends with a music video recap of that episode, featuring special effects, and a remix of every song featured in that episode. Each episode has animated music videos featuring music by a guest musician and animation by guest artists, designers, and animators.


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