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Arts and Entertainment

'Yo Gabba Gabba' creator talks 50 Cent, baby talk and parenthood
Christian Jacobs said the show was inspired in part by 50's "In Da Club" video
 
Published Thursday, February 14, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

This Saturday, children and adults will flock to Ovens Auditorium to dance around and get all the sillies out as the characters of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” return to Charlotte.

  “Yo Gabba Gabba” is a popular kids show staring Muno, a red Cyclops; Foofa, a pink character with a flower on her head; Plex, a magical yellow robot; Toodee, a female artic cat-dragon, and a green little monster named Brobee.  DJ Lance Rock, a grown man who carries a boom box and rocks a bright orange unitard and fuzzy orange hat, mostly narrates the show on Nick Jr.

 While it is geared for children, the show has gained numerous adult fans with its funky dance beats and guest appearances by celebrities from Biz Markie to Jack Black and Laila Ali.

 “Yo Gabba Gabba!” is the brainchild of Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz. In the following Q&A, Jacobs explains how they came up with the show’s name and how a 50 Cent video helped spark the original concept. Some questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

 Question: What is the concept behind “Yo Gabba Gabba?”

 Answer: I wanted to make something reflective of the shows that we grew up watching as kids, but I also wanted it to be fresh. I wanted it to have dance beats, Hip Hop and different flavors.

 Q: What are some of the shows that you grew up watching?

 A: I grew up with all the great ones, from “Sesame Street” to “Electric Company” and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” I grew up in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s. It was like the golden age of children’s programming. There were also a lot of variety shows on at the time that kids could watch with their families like “Sonny & Cher” or Donny and Marie (Osmond)… That was something that we wanted to bring back. We wanted to create a show that a 35-year-old parent could watch with their 3-year-old child.

 Q: How did you connect with the show’s co-creator, Scott Schultz?

 A: We’ve been hanging out since high school. We both were interested in doing production and making music videos. We were really interested in music. Scott was a DJ. He was doing weddings and parties. I was in a band. After we started having kids, and growing up, I came up with the idea that we should do a TV show, and asked what he thought about it. He said, ‘I think we can pull it off.’

 Q: What sparked your interest in creating a children’s show?

 A: I was watching TV with my daughter (almost 3 at the time). I was flipping channels and flipped past MTV. She was playing with her ponies, and this video came on. I think it was 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” The beat came on, and she stopped what she was doing and looked at the TV.

 It was one of those things that was like the lightening bolt. I think there is something to the fact that kids like good music. They like good beats. They like to dance. It hit me that if we could make a show that could feature that kind of music and keep it real, it would be a success. I thought it could work so I called Scott up and we went from there.

 Q: How did you come up with a name like ‘Yo Gabba Gabba?”

 A: We wanted to come up with a magic word like ‘abracadabra” or “presto chango.” We wanted something easy that a baby could say. So the “Gabba Gabba” just sounded like an early phonetic sound that a kid could make. Then, the Yo was the new school kind of flavor. We were just throwing out names, and someone said “Yo Gabba Gabba,” and that was it.

 Q: What about the names for the characters?

 A: All of the characters’ names also came out of the need to have something kids could say easily. Plex is probably the hardest one for kids to say.

 Q: Did you have a hard time selling the pilot?

 In relative terms, it was kind of easy… It took a little time, a couple of months. In relative terms that’s really fast. A lot of people wait years and years. I have another show that I’m working on now that we did a pilot for back in 1988 called the “Aquabats.” That’s almost 20 years ago, and now we are actually doing the first story.

 Q: How do you come up with the ideas for each show?

 A: On the show we don’t focus as much on ABCs and 123s. It’s more about how you can be a better person. It comes from experiences with our kids. Like if they drop food on the floor, and you have to decide what to do with it. I think that’s one of the fun parts – being really conscious of what you’re doing with your children and taking notes. The show has helped me to be a better father in a lot of ways because I’m thinking about what I’m doing and teaching in a way that is positive.

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