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Artist goes a little wild with 'Jumping the Shark' exhibit

Checking In With...Juan Tocayo

June 27, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • Juan Tocayo in front of his work that lines the walls in the As Issued art gallery and bookstore at The Lab in Costa Mesa.
Juan Tocayo in front of his work that lines the walls in… (Don Leach, Daily…)

Oh, Fonzie will never live that moment down.

In a 1977 episode of "Happy Days," the beloved greaser played by Henry Winkler performed a daredevil stunt by leaping over a shark on water skis. To many fans, that episode signaled the moment when the show strayed from its original premise — and "jumping the shark" has now become cultural shorthand for flailing to keep an audience's attention.

To Juan Tocayo, though, jumping the shark isn't all bad. The Costa Mesa artist, whose show at the As Issued Art + Design Bookstore bears that phrase as its title, is happy to shock and perplex. "Jumping the Shark," on view at The Lab shopping center, features images of skeleton wrestlers, zombie surfers, mock movie posters and more. On Tuesday, Tocayo took a break from his day job as a graphic designer for Fox Racing to talk about the exhibit:

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I'm curious about the title of your show, "Jumping the Shark." I know that's about the "Happy Days" episode where Fonz jumps over the shark. You know, people have made so much about that episode over the years. Is that episode really as bad as people make it out to be?

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I don't think it was a bad episode. I think that "Happy Days" had run its course already and there was nothing that could have been done to save the show anymore. I think people were just ready to move on, and I guess — I don't know much about what happened behind the scenes, but I think they pulled out all the stops to try to stay relevant and keep going, to keep the show going. I think that's just where "jumping the shark" just became a pretty popular saying, after that.

Do you think most shows end up doing that?

I think so, in their own way, yeah. I think that one was kind of cool.

Do you think that was the worst case of jumping the shark, or do you think another show has done it even worse?

Off the top of my head, I can't really recall anyone else doing it and pulling it off in such a manner, but I'm sure everybody's been guilty of jumping the shark at one point or another in life.

So how did you come upon that as the title for your show? Am I witnessing shark-jumping here on the walls?

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