Review: An Afrofuturist Mr. Rogers Rules ‘The Brobot Johnson Experience’

Review: An Afrofuturist Mr. Rogers Rules ‘The Brobot Johnson Experience’

These symbols stand for values including initiative, appreciation and connection, as well as for such physical essentials as movement and nutrition. Mr. Dauchan takes us though each of these, step by step, with some highly imaginative, homemade visual and aural aids.

By the way, Mr. Dauchan’s character is not Brobot Johnson, or not exactly. The amiable alien who presides as D.J. and M.C. over this production, which is directed by Andrew Scoville, is named Flobot Owens. He has arrived by a time-traveling spaceship named the LL Cool J, which resembles a boom box “the size of a Winnebago.”


An Extraterrestrial Encounter

Darian Dauchan preaches “peace, love and dopeness” in “The Brobot Johnson Experience.”

By THE BUSHWICK STARR on Publish Date February 26, 2018.


Brobot Johnson is the figure (also embodied by Mr. Dauchan) who appears in video projections, moving among the human citizens of New York, on the walls of the spaceship into which the Bushwick Starr has been transformed. Oh, and Mr. Dauchan also shows up as a wacky, wild-haired professor, who is apparently a font of cosmic knowledge.

At least, I think that’s the case. There’s no doubt that Mr. Dauchan has devised an intricate history, philosophy, technology and civilization for his robot alter egos, as elaborate as anything from “Dr. Who.” But since he delivers the specifics of this back story in tongue-tripping hip-hop incantations, underscored by layered astral music and sound effects, I can’t swear that I got even the basic details right.

Still, Mr. Dauchan isn’t out to engage your inner sci-fi nerd, or not the part of it that quibbles over interplanetary communication systems. Instead, he’s addressing the trusting, hopeful children buried somewhere within all so-called adults. That includes the plaid-shirted, mountain-booted hipsters in the audience at my show, who turned as gleefully pliable as young’uns dancing to the Pied Piper’s piping.

You may even find yourself thinking of Mr. Dauchan as a rapping Mr. Rogers, teaching basic good manners, values and survival skills to the rudderless overgrown kids of the 21st century. Like Mr. Rogers, Flobot Owens uses ditties, snacks, toys and group participation exercises as instructional tools.

This means that you will be asked to chant, wave your arms, hold your neighbors’ hands, brandish colorful glow sticks, dance and high-five your robot host. You are also encouraged to call out “I love you, Flobot” when the mood strikes you.

And it may strike you. From the moment he enters, wreathed in stage smoke, Mr. Dauchan radiates that natural, magnetic affability you associate with successful stand-up comics and talk-show hosts, but without any of the underlying hostility or aggression. As a consequence, his audience seems not just willing but eager to place its collective dignity in his illuminated hands.

The show’s spaceship-cum-classroom set (designed by Raul Abrego) may remind you of a more sophisticated version of the intergalactic fantasy lands you created as personal playhouses as a grade-schooler. It is definitely a safe space.

There, you are told, if you listen hard, you can hear the astral sound of “peace between species.” And without realizing it, you may even find you’ve regressed to a forgotten point in your life when you believed that goodness was the dominant human instinct and that anybody, even an alien, was a potential friend.

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