August 03, 1987 12:00 PM


Don’t look for a laugh-a-minute romp in this tape. It is for those who, as Ringling Bros, and Barnum & Bailey clown Steve Smith puts it, take their “silliness seriously.” There are sections devoted to preparing costumes, putting on makeup (a time-consuming process for the conscientious clown) and working up routines, as well as to such specialized skills as juggling and making animals out of skinny balloons. The structure is provided by Ron Severini, former dean of the Ringling Bros. Clown college, who serves as host and guide to his son Joey, 8. The kids aren’t ignored; in the makeup section, for instance, Frosty Little and Tammy Parish point out that children can use their mothers’ cosmetics to create their “look” instead of going to specialty stores. Safety is frequently stressed when talking about pratfalls and gimmick routines—just as well too, since a whip is used in one instance. At 80 minutes long, this tape contains a lot more about clowning than children need to know, however. Kids would be more likely to enjoy it in short snatches, but the behind-the-scenes look is engaging enough for adults, and there are plenty of helpful suggestions for someone who might be planning to clown around at the next Moose picnic or entertain the youngsters at a party. (IVE, $29.95)


Back in the prehistoric days when we didn’t even have television, let alone VCRs, the brief film clips that were combined to produce this half-hour tape would have appeared somewhere during the newsreel segment in movie theaters. There is some footage about cockroach racing in Australia (the insects are painted in flashy colors and dumped out of a pan inside a circle; the first one to scamper its way to the finish line wins). A combination of soccer and polo involving elephants takes place in Thailand (where there is also an elephant-vs.-human tug-of-war). Dogs go skiing in Colorado. A sandwich-making competition is held in California—and is won by a 464-foot-long hoagie. This is all mildly amusing, with the accent on mildly. The narration, however, written by Jean Satti and delivered in unctuous tones by Curt Chaplin, is generally on the annoying side. (The cockroach race ends with, “And here’s the winner, by a feeler!”) The tape might make a decent diversion for the kids on a rainy summer day—make that a very rainy summer day, one with typhoon warnings out. (Fox Hills, $19.95)

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