Rejoice, internet, for your president has spoken. (No, not that president who gave the State of the Union last night.) The president of the people, the world’s purest hero, and the infamously offbeat aquatic dancer Left Shark gave an interview with NPR this morning. The interview answers the questions that have plagued us since the 2015 Super Bowl. Specifically, did Left Shark actually not know the choreography?
In case you’ve been living under a Left Shark-less rock for the past three years, Left Shark emerged as an internet meme after Katy Perry’s halftime show at the 2015 Super Bowl. During her rendition of ‘Teenage Dream,’ Perry was accompanied by a parade of anthropomorphic ocean objects, including two dancing sharks. However, one of the sharks stole the show and, in turn, our hearts as its choreography appeared noticeably off from the other shark. Because the internet loves a goofy underdog, Left Shark became a web culture phenomenon, truly capturing the zeitgeist of what social media fame is.
Now, just days before this year’s Super Bowl, Left Shark has reemerged once again to confirm what we may have already suspected: yes, the offbeat choreography was intentional and yes, being a Left Shark (both literally or metaphorically) is awesome.
Bryan Gaw, the man behind Left Shark, spoke with NPR’s David Greene in a clip that aired on Wednesday’s ‘Morning Edition.’ Gaw, who now works as a hairstylist in West Hollywood, cleared up exactly what happened during that infamous, shark-centric dance number.
“So there's a set choreography,” Gaw said. “There's also what's called free-style choreography, or, like, you get to move around or play your character as a dancer.” Essentially, Gaw played heavily into that freestyle, character-diver aspect during the 2015 halftime show. “I’m in a 7-foot blue shark costume. There's no cool in that,” he continued. So, Gaw essentially played a character during the performance, creating the Left Shark we’ve all come to know and love.
Katy Perry’s choreographer for the show, RJ Durrell, has also previously confirmed that Left Shark’s routine (or lack thereof) was part of the plan all along. Durrell stated they wanted the sharks to invoke a “Tweedledee/Tweedledum-type persona,” with one shark hitting its marks and the other shark just...being happy to there. Gaw also stated that while he may have not rehearsed each specific dance step he ended up taking during the performance, the overall Left Sharkiness of it all was definitely planned.
Gaw said he hasn’t gotten much negative attention for his Left Shark performance. In fact, he even lists “Left Shark” on his resume. His words of advice for anyone who thought the performance was in earnest? “Don’t take life so seriously.”
Gaw also said during his interview that he wanted his Left Shark character to feel accessible, like an “everyday person.” “You don’t have to be perfect,” he said. “Nobody has to be perfect in life.”
Perhaps that is, at its core, what made us all fall in love with Left Shark in the first place. Who among us hasn’t had to fake it until we were able to make it (or at least kind of make it)? Who among us wouldn’t fully freak out about being onstage at the Super Bowl? Left Shark gave us a reflection of ourselves in our truest form. Who among us didn’t look at Left Shark and immediately think “it me”?
And who among us doesn’t need a sweet salve after last night’s State of the Union? Twitter certainly needed one.
While Gaw no longer portrays Left Shark in Katy Perry’s performances (another dancer has since taken over), he did have a few parting words of wisdom for all the Left Sharks out there: “Be you. Do you.” Spoken like the true Left Shark we know and love.
You can listen Gaw’s full interview with NPR here.