The summer draws to a close as we approach Labor Day weekend, and all over this great nation folks are sleeping in as late as they want to.  For the most part, college students have left their summer jobs behind jobs in order to pack and relax in their final days at home before they’re shipped off.  What would you think, then, if I told you that I know a reason every college student should be up before 10:30 am every weekday morning?  How about if I told you that reason was a show on Nick Jr.?

Before you scoff at me and head back under the sheets, hear me out.  There is a revolution taking place inside your television, and its being aimed right at your preschool-aged cousin (or niece, or son, or grandson).  It’s a show that is so unique, fabulous, and wonderfully cool that it could very well be the next Sesame Street.  It is called Yo Gabba Gabba! and if you’ve got any sense, you will make your kids get up and smoosh their face against the TV every morning so they can soak in as much as they can.

I’m a lover of TV and a part-time youth lifestyle supervisor (OK, I’m a babysitter).  While I work, I make it my business to impact the children’s television habits as much as possible.  I have a few house rules, like no Corey In The House and at least two servings of Boy Meets World a day.  I’m well versed in the current state of Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Noggin, Disney Channel, Toon Disney, and Cartoon Network (as well as some PBS).  I can say, without hesitation, that Yo Gabba Gabba! might be the coolest show to grace these networks since Spongebob was introduced eight years ago.

YGG! centers around DJ Lance Rock, an 80’s MC-style character who sports a full bodied orange jumpsuit, horn-rimmed glasses, and a fuzzy hat.  He and his five toy monsters, which he takes out of his boombox at the beginning of every show, lead the viewers through a super-funky world where you might draw with Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, dance with The Aquabats, or even learn to beatbox with Biz Markie.  The colors are extravagant and bright, the sets are simply beautiful, and the music is zippy and electronic and cool.  Each episode features shorts done by some of today’s best unknown animators and cartoonists and scored by a different hip DJ, singer, or band.  In between various segments are animated bumpers made to look like a ton of different classic video games.  The episodes all have a common theme running throughout, and also display three kids dancing however they want, making funny faces, and wearing big shirts with one of the characters’ faces on it.  The episodes end with a musical montage of sorts, where we get to relive about 30 seconds of each song and remember how much we loved it.  When your first episode ends, and 11 am rolls around, you won’t be able to keep yourself from anticipating waking up the next day and seeing the next new episode.

Actually, leaving the description of the music at what I wrote above would be criminal.  The show is loaded with musical guest stars who not only appear on screen, but also work hard behind the scenes to make the music for each episode different and cool. From it’s Wikipedia article, “The Shins, The Aggrolites, Cornelius, Biz Markie, Shiny Toy Guns, Supernova, Mark Mothersbaugh, Rahzel, The Postmarks, Sugarland, The Aquabats, and Mýa have all been confirmed to appear in the first season”  Each episode has its music remixed by a different DJ, and the episodes all feature at least 3 tunes that will make you forget you’re watching a children’s show and wonder where you can pick up the CD of what you’re hearing.  A lot of credit belongs to The Aquabats, who have 3 of their members working on the show full-time, and their contributions undoubtedly will continue to make the show funky, fun, great sounding, and sometimes even a little trippy.

The show is downright cool.  I don’t mean cool in the “starting quarterback drank 20 beers last night” sense of the phrase, but rather along the lines of “there is a party right now in Austin where people are listening to obscure and wonderful old school hip hop, wearing bright colors and cool sneakers, and dancing however they feel like without worrying who is watching.  I know I’ll never get to see it, and I may never even understand it, but God do I want to go.”  This program, while it’s really a kids show at heart, is also a doorway to the fun and funky culture of today’s best artists.  It is a glimpse into the lifestyle of people who are not only cool, but are also fun, talented, and really know how to enjoy life.  In our society of celebrities who publicly surround themselves with vices, and our culture of degradation and ridicule at those who aren’t like us, it is refreshing to be able to take your kids, point at a screen and say “See?  You can be cool AND be weird.”

Is there a party in your tummy?