ABC’s Chris Connelly and Ursula Fahy report:
As far as kids shows go, “Barney & Friends” is a dinosaur compared to “Yo Gabba Gabba,” an incredibly popular Nick Jr. TV show now in its fourth season.
“Yo Gabba Gabba” combines retro-with-a-wink, Stone Age video-game-esqe visuals and colorful, merry monsters, who dance and sing to propulsive music as they invite children to do the same. Christian Jacobs, the frontman for the ’90s costumed cult band, The Aquabats!, created the show with longtime cohort Scott Schultz.
“The purest example of being a kid is just jumping up and dancing,” Schultz said. “Our show really wasn’t about, ‘let’s sit down and make kids play out a narrative.’”
Each show features orange spandex suit-clad DL Lance Rock, who brings his monster toys to dancing life: Muno, Foofa, Toodee, Plex and Brobee. Unlike most kids’ fare these days, “Yo Gabba Gabba” is not a cartoon but live-action puppets at play.
“We don’t do ABCs, we are not teaching English,” Jacobs said. “But we are teaching life lessons. You’re teaching kids to share and love each other.”
The characters spread wholesome messages such as, “Don’t, don’t, don’t bite your friends,” and “There’s a party in my tummy! So yummy, so yummy!,” which have been additionally enhanced by old-school hip-hop legend Biz Markie, who teaches kids to “beat of the day”.
“Nightline” has the exclusive, never-before-seen animated clip, “Pancakes and Syrup,” from Season 4 of “Yo Gabba Gabba,” featuring the first ever song recorded for the show by Biz Markie. Watch it in the player below:
From The Shins to MGMT, a host of left-of-the-radio-dial indie music darlings have rocked the show, eager to prove their musical tricks are for kids.
“We try to find bands that have that kind of exuberant and youthfulness and celebrate a little bit of anarchy and at the same time are appropriate,” Jacobs said.
“We’re not television producers or kid show producers,” Schultz said. “We come from being in bands and doing our own thing as artists and musicians .”
The boldness of the show’s unconventional formula has resulted in an atypical fan base: Toddlers and preschoolers, their parents, and indie-fied college students. “Gabba” has even performed at the outdoor rock festival, Coachella and its live show, “Yo Gabba Gabba LIVE” is playing nearly 200 shows in more than 55 cities this year.
“For us, the real difference with ‘Gabba’ is the connection with the entire family,” said Michael Polis of Wildbrain, the entertainment company that produces “Gabba.” “It’s really unusual. It takes sometimes 20 years for a show to connect to an older audience, ‘Gabba’ did it overnight.”
Watch the full “Nightline” report here: