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Remember "Left Shark," the scene-stealing backup dancer from the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show?

Just slightly out of rhythm, the costumed entertainer embodied the old adage about dancing "like nobody's watching" (except, in this case, 114 million people were watching, but really, who's counting?). Choreographer R.J. Durell insisted that contrary to the internet's reaction, the dancer did not "forget" the routine, arguing that Left Shark was actually supposed to be a little goofy and out of sync with Katy Perry's music.

Intentional or not, Left Shark with his big googly eyes and cartoonish smile, brought a lot of laughter and joy to people around the world that night.


GIFs from NFL/YouTube.

Three years after dancing his way into our hearts, Left Shark sat down for a surprisingly touching interview with NPR.

Bryan Gaw, the man inside the costume, recently chatted with NPR's David Greene about life after Left Shark and making the best of a silly situation. Maybe it's the state of the world or the dire rhetoric of the State of the Union address, but Gaw's NPR appearance was a major breath of fresh air, a tiny bit of sunshine on an overcast day.

"I'm in a seven-foot shark costume," said Gaw, telling the story of that night. "There's no cool in that. So what's the other option? Well, I'm gonna play a different character." That portion of the show, he explained, involved a bit of "freestyle choreography" without predetermined moves. It gave him the opportunity to step into the awkward and endearing persona America fell in love with on stage that night.

Gaw, who now works as a stylist, offered a bit of advice: "Nobody has to be perfect in life."

It's easy to obsess over making the right moves, worrying about falling out of step with the rest of the world. It's easy to worry so much about what others think that you don't stop and have a little fun along the way. If Gaw had been concerned about what people thought of Left Shark — especially those who accused him of messing up — there's no way we'd still be talking about him today.

"Don’t take life so seriously, you know what I mean?" he said, wrapping up the short segment. "I was on the biggest stage in the world, acting crazy, and I got a lot of press and a lot of attention for it — in the most positive ways. It's great. Be you. Do you."

Be the "Left Shark" you want to see in the world, and check out Gaw's interview on NPR's website.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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