Story and photo by Debbi Casini Klein | Audio edited by Louis D’Aria
Sometimes there’s no better way to get kids excited about something than through music. Add some laughter, and you’ve got the perfect combination.
That’s the Josh and Gab show.
With a strong anti-bullying message, it’s a a musical comedy program for kids of all ages. Gab Bonesso is a comedian, Josh Verbanets a musician. They’ve merged their talents and are spreading their message at school assemblies with songs that bullying is wrong and that it’s cool to be kind.
“I was bullied many times throughout my childhood by different people” Gab said. “The first time I remember being traditionally bullied was in first grade on the school bus by two girls in second grade, Britney and Jen, and for some reason they loved to sit in front of me and say horrible things the entire ride to school.”
Gab said it became so out of control that her mom had to intervene and hire a sixth grader to sit next to her on the bus to prevent the bullying. Josh also experienced bullying as a kid, from both sides of it.
“I’m not a particularly good athlete, so I stuck to the arts,” he said. “I always felt a little different — when I would be bullied at school I would turn around and become the neighborhood bully.”
So they created songs and a program with anti-bullying messages, and they’ve peppered their songs with references that kids can easily identify with, like Kennywood.
“In my favorite song we do,” Gab said. ‘“9:00 behind the Jack Rabbit”’ is about a boy, the school bully, who says ‘at 9:00 we’re going to fight behind the Jack Rabbit,’ but when it comes time to fight, they realize they both really love the Jack Rabbit, and it would be so much more fun to get on the ride than fighting behind the ride, and that’s the moral of the story.”
“We’ve reached probably 20,000 plus kids just this last semester — Fall 2013 — with a whole slew of thousands more to come!” Josh said.
Gab said bullying isn’t just about kids on a playground but that adults can provoke one another as well.
“I don’t believe bullying ends your senior year of high school,” she said. “I’ve been bullied as an adult, and I hope that we can continue this conversation and we can convince everyone that it’s cool to be kind!”