Yo Gabba Gabba! is an American live action/puppet children's television show starring five costumed toys-come-to-life and their friend DJ Lance Rock. The Gabba gang explores a single topic in each episode, e.g. "Adventure," "Friends," and "Dance," through songs and short storylines in the half-hour program. Additionally, the show teaches children life and social skills, such as sharing and trying new foods. It also encourages viewers to move along with and dance with the characters in the program. The show is noted for its indie-culture guest stars and bands, and for drawing visual inspiration from 8-bit video games and H. R. Pufnstuf, among other classic television shows. Created by Christian Jacobs (lead singer of the Aquabats) and Scott Schultz, the show is written to appeal to children and their parents. The television program has spawned a touring live stage show, various toys and branded clothing. Trademarks relating to Yo Gabba Gabba! and its characters are held by GabbaCaDabra, LLC.
Hosted by a character named DJ Lance Rock, the series features a mix of live-action segments featuring cartoonish costumed characters—Muno (the red cyclops), Foofa (the pink flower bubble), Brobee (a little hairy green monster), Toodee (the blue cat-dragon) and Plex (the magic yellow robot)—and many short animated sketches and musical numbers.
Popular artists who have appeared on the show include Mos Def, Bootsy Collins, Ladytron, The Killers, Enon, The Clientele, Jimmy Eat World, Solange Knowles, Taking Back Sunday, Datarock, The Aquabats, Devo, Anne Heche, Joy Zipper, Of Montreal, Chromeo, My Chemical Romance, Weezer, Hot Hot Heat, The Faint, The Roots, Mates of State, MGMT, Jack Black, Tony Hawk, Elijah Wood, Peter Bjorn and John, The Shins, The Aggrolites, The Flaming Lips, Mýa, Biz Markie, Blitzen Trapper, The Ting Tings, Shiny Toy Guns (as The Shinys), Money Mark, Mariachi El Bronx, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Erykah Badu, and Lil Wayne. Other non-musical special guests to have appeared include Jason Bateman, Andy Samberg, Sarah Silverman, Laila Ali, Bill Hader, and Anthony Bourdain.
The toy models of the characters that appear at the beginning and end of each show were made by Kidrobot.
Yo Gabba Gabba! was developed by two Southern California fathers, Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz, who first started working together as teenagers, producing and directing skateboarding videos. Their goal was to design a kids' show that was entertaining while featuring real artists and real performers. Both had no previous experience writing for television, let alone children's broadcasting or education. In developing the show they took inspiration from a number of sources including Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Pee-wee's Playhouse, as well as Sid and Marty Krofft puppet shows Banana Splits and H. R. Pufnstuf.
In 1999, after becoming parents, Jacobs and Schultz started playing around with ideas for children's television and produced a pilot independently financed by small loans from friends and family. Yo Gabba Gabba! did not get much attention until it started circulating on the Internet. Jared Hess, the director of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, saw the pilot online and recommended it to Brown Johnson, the executive vice president and executive creative director of Nickelodeon Preschool. Yo Gabba Gabba! premiered on Nickelodeon on August 20, 2007.
The show is produced by The Magic Store Productions and Wild Brain. Yo Gabba Gabba! airs on the Nick Jr. cable network in the United States and the Nick Jr. networks in the United Kingdom & Ireland (where the characters had their voices overdubbed by British actors), Italy, France and Australia as well as Treehouse TV network in Canada and RTE2 on RTÉjr in Ireland. The series premiered August 20, 2007 on Nickelodeon as part of its Nick Jr. block, and began broadcasting in reruns on February 23, 2008 on the Nick Jr. TV channel. They have not yet renewed for a fifth season.
- DJ Lance Rock – A DJ who is the narrator and friend of the other characters. He is portrayed by Lance Robertson.
- Muno – 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. In the episodes "Family", "Circus", and "Baby", his family makes an appearance. During Super Bowl XLIV, he appeared in a commercial for the Kia Sorento. His realm resembles the moon, another planet, or a desert and he has a pet horse. He has three stomachs as seen in the X-ray in the Season 1 episode "Halloween" (#13). However another X-ray in the Season 1 episode "Imagine" (#20) shows him with one stomach, a normal heart and lungs. He is voiced by Adam Deibert.
- Foofa – A female flower bubble character who's "pink and happy." She loves flowers, rainbows and unicorns and can play the tambourine. Her realm is a spring or summer meadow. She is voiced by Emma Jacobs.
- Brobee – He is the smallest and the youngest of the gabbas, a small, male green monster and the baby of the gabbas. 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. His realm is a vast autumn forest. It is mentioned that he is four years old. He is voiced by Amos Watene.
- Toodee – 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. She lives in a winter arctic realm, with icicles. She is voiced by Erin Pearce.
- Plex – A male magic yellow robot and the oldest of the gabbas. 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. He has no realm in particular, though he seems to have a "docking station" between Foofa and Brobee's realms. In "Gabbaland Begins, Plex is the last in DJ Lance's original creations after he goes through Muno, Foofa, Brobee, and Toodee, although, Brobee is supposedly a four-year-old in the show. He is voiced by Christian Jacobs.
- Mark's Magic Pictures, featuring Mark Mothersbaugh, 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 and introduced by John Reis as "The Music Swami".
- Dancey Dance Time, featuring celebrity guests 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, cup stacking or another cool trick.)
- Storytime, where a child narrates a story (e.g., Goon Fishin', Goodnight Moon or another story.)
- Super Martian Robot Girl, featuring a helpful comic book-style superhero who saves the day, but only solves extremely contrive misunderstandings of ignorant citizens, instead of battling crime.
- Learn with Plex, a solo segment in which Plex teaches basic daily skills like brushing your teeth, making lemonade, putting on pajamas, etc. (three times by saying "it's fun to" do whatever he is teaching) in chants, using four repeated steps.
- Play Pretend with Muno, in which Muno encourages viewers to pretend along with him, as he imagines himself as various creatures and objects.
- 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 matching games, 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. This segment first appeared in season two.
- 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. (Season two and Season three have DJ Lance remembering the things he and the gang did in that episode before the music video starts.)
- Jingles, each episode has animated music videos featuring music by a guest musician and animation by guest artists, designers, and animators. They often happen after the first segment in an episode. (One episode does not have the segment.)
On April 30, 2008 the television show received a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/Styling. The show has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy in both 2008 and 2009 for Best Costume Design. Time magazine's James Poniewozik, who said the show "will convince you someone slipped something into your Fruity Pebbles" named Yo Gabba Gabba! one of the Top 10 new TV series of 2007, ranking it at #8. In November 2008, the Yo Gabba Gabba! production team won a BAFTA Children's Award, International. The show has also become popular among some college-age young adults because of the artists often featured. Due to the show's popularity amongst both adults and children, they performed at Coachella 2010 as special guests. Their live touring show also won a Creative Content Award at the 2010 Billboard Touring Awards. The Television Critics Association Awards have nominated Yo Gabba Gabba! for Outstanding Achievement in Children's/Youth Programing. The years include 2008-2012. Yo Gabba Gabba! won for the year 2009 and 2010. In February 2013, Yo Gabba Gabba! won two Kidscreen Awards for "Best Non-Animated or Mixed Series 2013" and "Best Music 2013"
In other media
- In 2009, the cast was featured in their own float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- Muno was featured in a commercial for the Kia Sorento that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl and a subsequent Kia commercials in 2011, also the character Brobee appeared in an 2011 advertisement for Wonderful Pistachios.
- The cast appeared in the Big Time Rush episodes "Big Time Audition", "Big Time Halloween" and "Big Time Cameos."
- Yo Gabba Gabba! appeared in True Jackson VP in the episode "Trapped in Paris."
- Garry Lyon, of the The Footy Show, an Australian Football League panel show, performed an interpretive cycle (Yo Gabba Gazza!) based on the Yo Gabba Gabba! dancing style after losing a humorous bet. The choice of the Yo Gabba Gabba! dance was based on a number of physical similarities to Brobee, including Bushy Eyebrows and Excessive Androgenic Hair.
- In the Mad episode "So You Think You Can Train Your Dragon How to Dance / Yo Gagga Gagga!," Lady Gaga hosts Yo Gagga Gagga! featuring her dolls – Taylor Swift, T-Pain, Miley Cyrus, and Triple H – and the cast is seen watching a monster movie at the end.
- In 2011, the cast appeared in the Raising Hope episode "Sabrina Has Money."
- The title of the Futurama episode "Yo Leela Leela" parodies this, as does the show in the episode, known as "Rumbledy Hump".
- On June 9, 2012, The Fresh Beat Band's 14th episode "Yo! Fresh Beats Go Gabba Gabba!", the "Gabba Gang" gets beamed into the episode by way of a malfunctioned Plex has with robotic hiccups which was caused by Gearmo: a gear who always causes trouble.
- Insane Clown Posse recorded a cover of the song Hold Still for the 2012 album Smothered, Covered & Chunked.
- The South Park episode "Taming Strange" features Foofa becoming a spoof of Miley Cyrus after Kyle's adopted younger brother, Ike, attends a "Yo Gabba Gabba Live!" performance and "tames Foofa's strange" in front of everyone seeing the show.
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