Clowns, high-energy sketch comedy, plus an educational spin? Sign us up! "The Ankle Todd Show" is a one-of-a-kind live show written and directed especially for kids, with a new educationally themed "episode" every week. This month, we had a chance to chat with Todd Obuchowski, performer, writer and creator of the show.
How did you get into comedy and clowning?
I am a 1997 graduate of Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Clown College. One thing I love doing is performing for kids and families, and audiences really dig it.
How did it all start?
I came up with the idea and I enlisted the help of my friends, either through Second City or iO, and also some other clowns I had met in Chicago. It was supposed to (pay) homage to the old live TV shows like "Bozo" and "Howdy Doody," and then we started it as an outlet for parents to have a little something extra to bring their kids to. We've been going on for almost two years now.
You put on a new show with a different topic every week. How do you come up with new ideas?
They're all based around a central educational theme. They're just topics that I think would be fun. Sometimes they're topics that members of my cast will suggest. We just kind of refine that and add in an educational aspect. Like if we did a show that's all about dinosaurs, let's bring in an expert about dinosaurs, things like that.
What's your favorite part about the show?
It's not just a kids' show-it's for the adults, too. We don't do jokes that go above the kids' heads, but we do things parents find funny, too. It's completely family friendly. When I see the moms and dads laughing as hard as the kids in the audience, that's fun.
What would you like kids and families to take away from your show?
We like to highlight simple, creative fun. There are always segments in the show-a cooking segment, a craft segment or some sort of science experiment-but they all have to do with things you can find at home. It's all about making something out of nothing. That's really what the show is about, having simple fun and being creative with what you have.
And it's an educational show, but it's not who's the smartest person in the room. Everyone has something to teach, and everyone has something to learn. And I think that's just something that's been really positive with the kids
What's up with the name?
That is the million-dollar question. I have seven nieces and nephews, and none of them could say "Uncle Todd," so they just said "Ankle Todd."