There's been a blip in the Blippi-verse — and some parents are crying foul.
On Friday, the Instagram account for Blippi, the impossibly enthusiastic children's entertainer boasting 12.5 million YouTube subscribers, announced that, "by popular demand," the character would be portrayed by an actor other than original creator Stevin John.
John, who released the first Blippi video in 2014, came under fire in 2019 when parents realized that a stage performer — wearing his trademark orange eyeglasses, hat, bowtie and suspenders and mimicking his excited, high-pitched voice — would be appearing in his Blippi Live tour rather than John himself. (Show producers noted that the tour announcement indicated that John would not be performing in the live show, but nonetheless offered refunds to parents who felt blindsided by the switch.)
Now, that same stage performer — actor Clayton Grimm — is back as Blippi in a new "Learn with Blippi" series which premiered on Saturday morning. John typically uploads new YouTube content on Saturdays — with recent videos showing him touring a zoo, taking a circus skills class or schooling kids on the importance of Earth Day — but this weekend saw doppelgänger Grimm greeting kids from a blue and orange set before heading out to an Orlando adventure park.
While the video has already racked up more than 735,000 views, parents have been blasting the Blippi swap on Instagram.
"Will the real Blippi please stand up?" read one comment.
"Who’s this??! This ain’t gonna fly with my kids," a parent reacted to the news, while another wrote, "My 3-year-old said, 'That’s not Blippi.'"
"This is like when Steve left Blue's Clues when I was a kid," another commenter quipped, referencing the 2002 departure of the Nick Jr. show's original host, Steve Burns, which sparked rumors that Burns had died.
But a spokesperson for Moonbug, which produces the show along with other popular children's programming, assures Yahoo Life that the original Blippi, Stevin John, isn't going anywhere. John will continue to bounce and beep his way through family-friendly attractions in videos to come, with Grimm (or "Flippi," as some commenters have suggested he be called) helming a set-based format that's more in line with the Blippi stage show, which will resume touring this summer. According to Blippi.com, Blippi the Musical kicks off in Delaware on July 23, with a note that no doubt hopes to avoid the confusion and backlash from 2019.
"Stevin John is the creator of Blippi and acts as the writer and creative force behind the Blippi character," a statement reads. "Now that Blippi has evolved as a character he is excited that a dynamic stage performer has been cast as Blippi to entertain and thrill audiences across all of the tour markets."
Long story short: Having a backup Blippi is the only way pint-sized fans will get twice the Blippi content, something John previously spoke about.
"I won't be on the road, but I am obviously extremely involved with the whole process," he told Billboard ahead of the last tour. "Blippi is as a character and I'm the creative force behind it, but since YouTube is a monster and all of these platforms are really crazy I can't go on the road for many weeks or months at a time."
There is still one lingering mystery, however: the whereabouts of "Nicky Notes," the early Blippi sidekick and voice of earwormy ditties including "Fire Truck," "The Garbage Truck Song," "The Tractor Song" and "The Excavator Song." Though Nicky Notes [actual name: Kyle Bain] hasn't been seen on the show since 2017, a petition calling for his return was created just six months ago; 516 people have signed so far.
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