Product Review: How to Do the Robot

20 Jun

The tag line of the How to Do the Robot instructional DVD is “You know you want to.” It’s true. I do want to. I want to master the Zombie Walk, and show off my Dime Stop at parties. I realize I might be a decade or two too late, and perhaps it was never that cool in mainstream circles anyway, but, nonetheless, it’s a dream. A few of my friends gave me this two hour and fifteen minute-long instructional video for my birthday. I am glad I have this DVD. It made me realize that a) the Robot Community is a thing, and b) it never went away. It is alive and well, and living in an apartment in Los Angeles with mirrored walls.

Meet your instructor: Tyson. With his shoulder-length blond hair, obvious athleticism, and good teeth, Tyson probably could have been a surfer and gotten lots of girls. Instead, he followed his passion and lives with a few fellow robots* in an unremarkable apartment, and spends his days busking on Hollywood Boulevard and practicing the art of acting like a machine. He also took the time to make this video, and for that I am grateful.

Tyson is really enthusiastic. The word “earnest” comes to mind. He is not kidding. He loves the robot and he wants you to love the robot, too. Most of the instruction is improvised; it feels unrehearsed and loose. He has a tendency to make annoying sound effects (I suppose that’s to be expected), and occasionally drifts into Tony Robbins territory (“Don’t worry about what other people think!”). The video is broken up into individual lessons (beginning with “posture,” and moving through more complicated concepts like “heel turns” and “strobing”), awkwardly edited together with various interludes including promotional segments for upcoming DVDs that look vaguely racist; footage from live stage performances and, strangely, grocery stores; and a few bits where you see Tyson and his housemates goofing off in their living room. Those segments feel like a particularly bad episode of The Real World, if all of the characters on The Real World were really good at doing the robot.

The instruction itself is fine. The moves are broken down into small, memorable pieces, and Tyson is good at explaining them and gives ample time to practice each one. It’s not cumulative, though. I would have liked to have been building a routine, based on a combination of moves learned throughout the video. That would really impress people. Also, Tyson reminds me a little bit of a guitar teacher I once had who would frequently take my guitar to demonstrate something, jam for five solid minutes, remember I was there, give me back the guitar, and say, “Now you try.” Similarly, Tyson ends each lesson by busting out with some advanced improvisation that you can’t do yet.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that the video has a several minutes-long interlude promoting The Secret. That’s right. The Oprah-supported, science-ignoring, victim-blaming, best-excuse-to-use-the-word-cockamamy-ever pile of hogwash. It’s unclear what this has to do with doing the robot, and I found it a bit distracting.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the fine line between doing the robot and being a mime. Tread carefully.

Overall, I’d give How to Do the Robot a grade of a B. It’s not perfect, but it is in fact a video that teaches you how to do the robot. Screw that. A+! This video teaches you how to do the robot!

Okay, I’m off to practice my fixed point work now.

*I wasn’t sure what to call members of the Robot Community. Roboters? Robot Dancers? I finally settled on simply “robots” because it’s the one that made me laugh out loud in a public place.


4 Responses to “Product Review: How to Do the Robot”

  1. Sarah June 21, 2010 at 3:40 am #

    in a word, awesome. 🙂

  2. David July 17, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    that is one of the funniest things ive ever read


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    […] my personal favorite blog entry of the year: My review of the “How to do the Robot” instructional dvd. Kudos to my co-workers for that awesome […]

  2. Things I Want to Learn and How I Will Learn Them « Everybody’s Invited! - June 24, 2011

    […] How to do the robot really well (action step: re-watch my How to Do the Robot DVD) […]

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