Declaring that “humans are friends, not food,” two Tyrannosaurus rexes are choosing humor over hunger regarding the homo sapiens, with whom they implausibly share an era.
Through weekly video adventures posted on YouTube since November, the Cretaceous duo began connecting with a hundred, then a thousand and now hundreds of thousands of humans, offering them a few minutes of respite from life’s drudgery.
The T. rexes have sneaked through a library, tried ice skating, paid tribute to “Rocky,” scrummed with roller girls, shopped for meat at a grocery store to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive,” and made snow angels. (See them at bit.ly/1YRSyUg.)
If you’re thinking it can’t be easy to make a snow angel when your arms appear to be an afterthought, you would be correct.
That their success is both hilarious and unexpectedly poignant is the reason they make the videos.
“Some of the comments people leave are so good,” Tyra said. (Hang on; we’ll explain.) “One person wrote, ‘I actually laughed today.’ ”
“This is just what we do,” Rex added. (We’ll explain.) “That we’ve been able to touch people in this way, it’s surreal.”
Tyra and Rex are the creative forces behind TRex Tuesdays. They don’t call themselves Tyra and Rex. They’d prefer not to be called anything so specific, but Dr. Seuss already claimed Thing 1 and Thing 2, so we’re going with these names.
The duo believe that any whiff of their actual humanity will erode the illusion they’re striving to create as dinosaurs. So don’t get any ideas about their genders, races, ages or ethnic makeup. The logic is Santaclausian, to be sure, but similarly means no harm.
Rex and Tyra are, however, college-educated, meeting 10 years ago at the University of Minnesota, where they discovered a mutual love of crafts and dressing in costumes, whether for Halloween or for “Harry Potter” movie premieres.
Rex had gotten hooked on watching T. rex GIFs — brief videos of people dressed up in dinosaur costumes — and after some hesitation, ordered one for, um, itself.
“When it came in the mail, it was hilarious,” Rex said. “I showed it to [Tyra] and said, ‘You should get one!’ ”
The rest is prehistory.
‘Silly, but not dumb’
As its Facebook page says, TRex Tuesdays is just for fun, and for that, people like Katherine Engel of St. Paul are grateful.
“I think it’s because they’re so creative, and so original,” Engel said. “It’s silly, but it’s not dumb. They’re a touch of lightness once a week when everything else is so negative online. It’s sweet fun.”
On this particular night, Engel was among a group of ballroom dance students at the Cinema Ballroom in St. Paul, where the T. rexes would reveal the results of their own dance lessons.
Instructor Nadine Messenger was the instigator, sharing one of the YouTube videos with colleagues.
“We were crying, we were laughing so hard,” Messenger said. “Then we thought, ‘What if we taught them dancing?’ ”
Thus, Tyra and Rex learned tango, swing and disco moves, first as humans, then in costume as dinosaurs.
If you’re thinking it can’t be easy to tango with a 33-inch tail, you would be correct.
“It’s kind of like wearing a tent,” Tyra said of the costume’s thin nylon material. A small fan provides inflation, giving the dino some girth and its 7-foot height. (The person inside looks out from the dino’s neck.)
The balloon-like nature of the inflated costume provides its comic qualities: The head tends to waggle and the butt tends to bobble, movements that Tyra and Rex enhance with a lumbering “squat walk.”
“You can’t just be a human inside of it,” Tyra said.
Yet it’s the dinosaurs’ very human reaction to situations that made one of their early videos go modestly viral. Titled “Big City + Big T-Rex = Big Trouble,” the video shows the duo crossing the Hennepin Avenue bridge between the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Loring Park.
Traffic slows and there’s a crashing sound. They trade looks and, with the wackadoodle “Benny Hill” theme song in the background, hurriedly waddle off the bridge and make themselves extinct.
Now, they’re not sure there was an actual crash; a fender bender, at worst. The video’s metallic clang that they added has a sort of Wile E. Coyote comic quality. For that matter, no one may have noticed them at all.
More often, they said, bystanders act as if dinosaurs are no big deal. In the video of them at an ice rink, “people just went around us like we weren’t there,” Rex said. “It must be a Minnesota thing.”
The occupants of both costumes have full-time jobs — Tyra in finance and Rex with the city of Minneapolis — so rehearsing and filming is done on evenings and weekends. Serendipity is their friend, and they don’t obsess about high production standards: A friend films the videos on a cellphone.
The world needs more fun
Dressing up in tyrannosaurus costumes is kind of a thing.
Searching YouTube for “T. rex” leads down a rabbit hole of other videos of people doing ordinary things while wearing inflatable dinosaur costumes. There are T. rexes riding horses, shoveling snow, dancing the Macarena.
“It’s just fun,” Tyra said, who added that they’ll continue to do this as long as it remains fun, and after that, who knows? They’ll find another fun thing.
The world needs more fun.
As the dance floor cleared at the Cinema Ballroom, two larger dancers stepped out. With Tyra in a pink tulle tutu around its waist and Rex clenching a long-stemmed rose in its teeth, the dinosaurs began their tango.
The fancy footwork for their Argentine flicks drew whoops from dancers of the Holocene geologic period — in other words, now — who stayed after class to watch the filming. (The video will be released May 10 on YouTube.)
Then it was on to some swing dancing to “In the Mood,” and winding up with an homage to disco with “The Hustle.”
If you think it’s funny watching short vestigial arms do that little Mixmaster motion, you would be correct.