Kelly Alley

“‘I wanna be a Yo-Yo Man,’ he cried. ‘Make me a Yo-Yo Man!’ But the Yo-Yo Master did not answer, he just kept on yo-ing.”

There are precious few things in this world that are so simple yet so complex as the yo-yo.

Now hold on. Before you say I’ve cracked under mid-semester pressure or that I’m developing a bad case of spring fever, hear me out on this children’s toy.

In my quest for oddball things, sometimes I happen across the craziest yet most informative tidbits from the past. “Yo-Yo Man” is one of these things.

When you first started reading this week’s column, you may have noticed a strange little quote. Those who still remember what Vine is should recognize this quote, although I believe this one in particular is what the kids today call “rare.” Those who have no idea what Vine is may remember the musical-comedy duo who did this skit: The Smothers Brothers.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, a CBS show which ran from 1967 to 1969, was essentially the precursor to Saturday Night Live and late-night talk shows. Hosted by brothers Tom and Dick, it featured political commentary with musical segments mixed in.

The show had the honor of being labeled as “the most controversial” show at the time, prompting CBS to axe the highly successful show after just three seasons. What an absurd idea, voicing your political opinions openly through comedy!

We’re not here to discuss a folk-singing comedy team poking fun at the issues of the late sixties, however. No, we’re here to find out how to achieve that perfect, mystical, blissful state of being: The State of Yo.

The State of Yo is quite simple. It involves the mastery of the yo-yo, a toy once used as a weapon in ancient times that is now an object of enjoyment through utter hypnotic mindlessness. Once this mastery has been completed you will have reached a state of nirvana (without smelling like teen spirit, thankfully).

In 1988 the Smothers Brothers dedicated an entire thirty-minute instructional video to help folks like us learn how to yo-yo and reach this magical frame of body and mind.

There’s even a website page dedicated to this odd figure of the Zen-like practice “with a trademark dance-like step that signals he’s in a ‘State of Yo.’” The biography of this strange fellow tells the story of how a common, dull, uninteresting man became the amazing, outstanding Man of Yo we know today simply by learning how to yo-yo.

Following the instructions set forth by Yo-Yo Man and the Yo-Yo Master, you too can become an expert in all things yo. Who knows, you may even receive your very own pair of suspenders upon mastery of the string-on-a-spool.

How the Smothers Brothers ended up filming a yo-yo tutorial in the late 1980's is beyond me. All I know is that it’s humorous, strangely informative and just the kind of absurdity we need right now.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to learn how to walk-the-dog over-the-falls around-the-world in a flying-saucer a couple of times — as soon as I find my yo-yo.

Kelly Alley is a junior studying Journalism and Electronic Media. She can be reached at kalley2@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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