The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #83: How to Parent Like a Clown

My pal Dan Pashman from The Sporkful told me I should interview a clown. I wasn’t so sure. But Dan was insistent. He was like, “No, really. I think they’d have a lot to say about using clowning techniques on their kids.”

Well, I reluctantly went looking for a clown. And I’m glad I did because Dan was right! Clowns have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves. And lots of them are useful in manipulating your own progeny. Or spouses. Or coworkers, really.

Meet Andy Sapora, aka Dr. Baba. He’s a hospital clown with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Program. Here he is going on a coffee run after a hospital stint with one of his clowning partners, Peter Daniel Straus, who goes by “Dr. Peety.” Andy’s the one with the naturally clown-like hair.


He’s also performed with the vaudevillian Flying Karamozov Brothers (left) and Pagliacci, the Italian opera with clowns (right).


Meeting Andy, I’ve gotta tell you, he exudes clowniness. He seems to approach every single interaction as if he’s looking to turn it into a game. And, as you’ll hear in this episode, that’s how he approaches his family life, too. He even used a clowning principle at his own wedding, when he accidentally dropped the ring. And then … did it over and over and over again. (The principle: if you get a laugh, repeat.) As you can see, his wife liked it.


Tune in for all kinds of clowning secrets you can use at home. Plus sound effects. And an ode to the fart.

How have you tricked YOUR kids out of tantrums?
Or maybe your parents tricked you? Tell all. Down there.

Andy in Karamozov: Rod Kimball; Andy in Pagliacci: Cory Weaver; wedding photos: Todd Warnock

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