Daffy Dave
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Daffy Dave

Santa Cruz, California, United States

Santa Cruz, California, United States
Band Comedy Children's Music


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"Classy clown Palo Alto's 'Daffy Dave' premieres his New Movie with Style"

Who cares about a little rain? Fans are crowded outside Palo Alto's Aquarius Theatre, a squirming crowd on the wet sidewalk. Some wave signs made of paper taped to popsicle sticks. Others chant, "Daffy Dave! Daffy Dave!" and the limo's not even here yet.

A movie premiere is exciting, especially if you're 3. And it's even better if you know the star. Most of the fans in this crowd have seen Daffy Dave in person, clowning, singing, juggling and doing magic.

"He comes to our school two to three times a week. The kids love him," says a teacher from Twinkle Twinkle Childcare in Los Altos, which has sent a contingent of about 30 kids in orange T-shirts.

Then the man of the hour arrives. Dave emerges from a stretch limo shouting, "Rock 'n' roll!" His white tux jacket shines in the gray afternoon, and the lady on his arm wears an elegant gown. "This is my date, Cherries Jubilee," he announces. The kids cheer, and cameras go off.

Children pour into the theater and squeak their chairs, ready for the movie, "The Silly Adventures of Daffy Dave," to start. A reporter wants to know why they like Daffy Dave so much, but most turn shy when questioned by a stranger — or are just too hopped up to answer. Finally, one little girl yells: "Because he's FUNNY! He tells FUNNY stories!" This seems to be the general consensus.

In the funny story of Palo Alto minister-turned-clown "Daffy Dave" Mampel, last week's Aquarius screenings were an important chapter. While Mampel has put out seven song-and-story CDs and produced a local cable TV show, this is his first film.

The 34-minute movie begins with a scene of Mampel entertaining a roomful of kids with his antics, but at its heart are his original songs. Mini-movies based on "Red Light, Green Light," "Choo Choo Train," "Soccer Rock 'N' Roll" and others are filled with energetic young fans and members of Mampel's band. In the middle of everything, Daffy Dave is a genial presence, showing kids how to ride a train, tidy their rooms, or wait for a traffic light to change.

Currently, Mampel and director Alex Alamul are submitting the movie to film festivals and retailers. They're also shopping it to TV stations, where it could serve as a pilot for a kids' TV show. The team is more than ready to spin out episodes, Mampel says eagerly, adding, "I have like 84 songs on iTunes."

That upbeat attitude has proved a popular selling point. Mampel became a full-time children's entertainer in 1992, after leaving the ministry. "I was being a clown already and making people laugh during Sunday sermons," he says.

Since then, he's been performing at schools, parties and other gigs, mostly for kids ages 3 to 6. He also leads music activities at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City. His band mates — guitarist Scott Smith (who dresses as a Yosemite Sam type called "Dusty Buckles") and bass player Mark Stein (a.k.a. "Uncle Ben Franklin") — are often along for the ride.

"Daffy Dave has the best fans. They're so appreciative," says Stein during an interview at his I'm Stein Recording Studio in Sunnyvale, where some of the Daffy Dave CDs have been recorded. "And nobody ever throws beer bottles at you."

Mampel adds: "Juice boxes, maybe."

Flying projectiles aside, kids get to contribute their cheering voices to the show, often while trying to help the hapless Daffy Dave. Mampel's character is an affable bumbling sort who often gets things wrong, whether it's putting on his hat upside down, or trying to answer the phone by putting a pair of sunglasses to his ear.

"Kids laugh and tell me what I'm doing wrong. It really empowers them when they can tell an adult to do things the right way," Mampel says. He adds, "Comedy is a man in trouble, Jerry Lewis said."

Mampel says his show also shows children that it's all right to make mistakes. "That's what it means to be human."

Despite his gaffes, Daffy Dave seems to be having a blast. But it isn't always easy working with little ones. Vast stores of energy are required. And even when you do your best ukulele strumming, sometimes a kid just won't think you're funny. What do you do then?

"Ignore 'em," Mampel says. "Focus on the kids who do like you. You can't let it get to you, or you'll get depressed."

Plenty of children do shriek with laughter at a Daffy Dave performance. And, uh, do other things.

"I've had kids pee their pants in my show because they're laughing so hard. That's happened like 10 times," Mampel says. He then jumps up and hilariously reenacts trying to steer the crowd's attention away from a damp child, while the child's mother frantically mops up the puddle.

It was one of these kids' shows (sans puddle) that brought Mampel to the attention of independent movie director Alex Alamul, who had never made a children's movie before. Mampel was performing at Alamul's daughter's school in Los Gatos, and Alamul was standing on the sidelines, trying to listen to his voice mail.

"But the kids were so loud," Alamul recalled. "They were laughing so hard. I realized, 'This guy is really funny.'

"I've been making films for 20 years, and I've seen so many live shows. He was different, catchy. ... He held the kids' attention for a long time."

Mampel teamed up with Alamul and his Campbell-based Sidekick Productions, and they decided to make a film that was more like a collection of music videos than a long narrative piece. The songs are already familiar to many kids, and the format would also be good for youthful short attention spans, they agreed.

Filming locations included the San Francisco Zoo, Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City, and Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos. To find kids for the many crowd scenes, including the soccer sequences in "Soccer Rock 'N Roll," Mampel turned to Daffy Dave's fan club, which he says has some 1,000 families.

Alamul's son also appears in "My Name is Daffy Dave," where Mampel shows kids how to clean up their rooms (and puts Alamul's son away in a large basket).

Back at the Aquarius, the team's approach to filmmaking seems successful. Kids in the audience sing and dance along, and crow when their favorite songs come on. They're especially engaged by the opening scene of Daffy Dave just goofing around. He introduces himself; he clowns; he acts chagrined when his hat falls off.

Interestingly, the children at the Aquarius respond to the Dave on the screen, even though the real Dave is at the back of the theater. When the movie Dave tells the movie kids to clap, the real kids clap, too. When he tells them to raise their hands, a sea of arms fills the Aquarius, making tall shadows in the flickering light of the projector.

"Ladies and garbage cans," the movie Dave says in greeting, and everyone choruses delightedly, "Noooo."

But the funniest scene is still to come: Daffy Dave's pants fall down! And he's wearing big, crazy underwear! The kids laugh. Their teachers laugh. Even a jaded reporter laughs. Some humor never goes out of style.

Info: For more about Daffy Dave, or to buy "The Silly Adventures of Daffy Dave," go to www.daffydave.com.

by Rebecca Wallace
- Palo Alto Weekly, December 14, 2007

"Do Be Silly"

Enthusiastic children respond to Daffy Dave's commands, during the closing moments of his Silly Comedy Show in the Stanislaus County Library's auditorium in Modesto on Friday. The show is part of Stanislaus County Library Summer Reading program. - The Modesto Bee, August 6, 2005

"Clowning around makes exercise fun"

When you want advice on a serious subject, ask a clown.

That's exactly what I did this week, seeking health and fitness advice from Daffy Dave, a Palo Alto-based clown and children's entertainer.

Daffy Dave, whose real name is Dave Mampel, 41, has been exercising at least three days a week for the past two years. Before that he exercised on an occasional basis.

"If you look at exercise as work, it becomes something you're likely to resist. When it's fun, you seek it out," he said. Dave also likes to "think of how good I'll feel afterwards."

To stave off the monotony and boredom, Dave likes to mix things up.

"Usually I go to the YMCA three times a week to do my half-hour cardio plus my weight-strengthening exercises." That alone provides some diversity because he's working on his heart and his other muscles, but he also gives himself "the out" that on any one of those days that 'I'll just do a power hike at the Arastradero Preserve."

Dave has a special reason to stick with a regular exercise routine. About a year and a half ago, he wound up at the Stanford Hospital emergency room with what was diagnosed as coronary vasospasm, a type of heart attack. Dave says that the doctors can't explain why he had the attack but, from his perspective, "exercise helped me to recover and cope with the episode." After a couple of weeks of recuperation, Dave resumed his full workout schedule and has been feeling great ever since.

Daffy Dave makes most of his living by doing performances for children typically from ages 2 to 8. Most of us don't think of clowns as educators, but a successful clown can have a pretty big impact on his young audiences.

Dave also teaches classes to kids, including a pre-kindergarten soccer class.

"To make soccer attractive to kids that aren't ready for competitive sports, I have to make the game fun. When we do the warm-up exercises at the start of each class, I do things that make them laugh."

Laughter, says Dave, "makes kids breathe in more oxygen and helps them exercise more effectively because they're breathing better." He may start by telling the kids that "the wall is falling," giving them stretching and strengthening exercise as they lean against the wall in a comedic effort to keep it from falling. Then, when they're in the midst of holding up the wall, Dave screams, "There's a monster up there ... run!" The kids "laugh and run to the other side of the court where they hold up that wall." The kids, according to Dave, "are laughing the whole time they're running, which gives them more oxygen so they're less tired."

After they run around for awhile he leads them in traditional calisthenics with a "comedic twist." As the children hold their hands on their waists and twist back and forth, Dave chants "Wash, wash, washing machine, get your stinky socks so clean." He engages the kids in making up more lyrics, which means that they're concentrating on the fun of the game, not the work of the routine. "They don't even know they're tired," he said.

Dave is also a strong advocate of dancing both for kids and adults.

Dave sneaks dancing into his routine. During his regular shows he'll "do the shakedown," where he and his audience "start jumping around and dancing and doing silly dances like 'the lawn mower' where kids reach down as if to start the mower."

You can find out more about Dave and his video and dance music at www.daffydave.com.

By Larry Magid
Larry on Fitness - Palo Alto Daily News, January 16, 2003

"Daffy Dave, underwear master"

As children's librarian Liz Fuller stood before the crowd of almost 200 at the Oakley Library, holding an inflatable, fire-breathing dragon all the young eyes should have been engaged with the mythical fire-breathing beast.

"We're here to kick off our summer reading program," said Fuller. But all eyes were on the tall man with a big smile dressed in bright red and yellow next to her.

As Fuller introduced, "Daffy Dave," he began the show with a brief survey.

"Raise your hand if you woke up this morning," said the clown in the red hat, red sneakers and yellow suspenders. "Really high if you're showing off your armpit."

Now that the crowd was giggling, he began the show officially.

"Ladies and garbage cans..." he began.

The kids erupted with laughter, and one youngster yelled out, "That's not right!"

"No?" said Daffy Dave, "Ladies and jungle jims?" The kids were hooked.

Daffy Dave had them rolling in the aisles, literally, as the floor was filled with little laughing bodies and the aisle ways were packed with strollers.

After losing his hat, and finally his oversize clown pants, Daffy Dave taught the audience to use "Magic," by wiggling their fingers overhead.

"When you use the magic, you have to use the magic to clean up your room," said Dave. "You have to start by picking up all of your..." And with that, umpteen underwear jokes began, much to the delight of the crowd.

"How many kids get money for cleaning up their room," asked Dave. "How many get stock options?"

"It was great," said mom Traci Tovani. "We had three older ones and even the 8-month-old watched it, we all had a great time."

"They're excited about the reading program too," added Tovani.

Jacqie Mosqueira, who brought her daughter Katherine, 5, enjoyed the show.

"I thought he hit exactly the children's vein. He was right on with the kids comedy, they were cracking up the whole time."

As for how Daffy Dave, a.k.a. Dave Mampel, knows what will tickle the funny bone of the little ones, he said, "I love kids so much, I know where they're at."

Dave describes himself as the class clown that never grew out of it.

"I am master of the underwear jokes, I have a love for kids, and kind of being a kid myself."

For those that missed the program, Daffy Dave donated two CDs of his jokes, songs and stories to the library for check out.

"They're great for the mini-van," said Dave. "Prevents meltdowns."

For information on Daffy Dave, his shows, CDs or live TV show program, "Daffy Dave's Tree Fort," visit www.daffydave.com.

By Anna Sanders - The Oakley Press, June 14, 2002

"This Clown Knows His Audience"

There's nothing like a lively rendition of "Oh Where, Oh Where Can the Bathroom Be?" to warm up a crowd. That is, if the crowd's a bunch of preschoolers brimming with excitement at seeing their premier entertainer, Daffy Dave.

"Ladies and jungle gyms!" shouted the clown, juggler and balloon animal twister, Dave Mampel, as he began a recent performance at Peninsula Temple Shalom.

Nooooooo!" squealed the kids.

"Boys and gorillas! Gerbils?"


Mampel, wearing checkered pants, yellow suspenders and red Converse sneakers, stood at the front of the synagogue, joking with the kids filling the seats below for about an hour.

A house of worship is a comfortable place for Mampel, who in 1992, quit his job as the minister of the First Congregational Church of Idaho Falls. The fifth-generation minister was known for unintentional bumbling. He'd spill wine during communion, announce wrong dates for church events and was so hot on the church's ski trip, he wore just long underwear on the slopes.

"One day, my organist came up to me and said, 'You know, Dave, you're more of an entertainer than a minister!'" recalled Mampel, 38, who lives in Palo Alto.

He felt stuck in his profession, and after two years of soul-searching, decided to write poetry and sing in cafes. As he planned to move to San Francisco, a mecca for such pursuits, his congregation threw him a going-away party. There, they planted the seed for his clowning.

"They said, 'Why don't you dress up as a clown, call yourself Crazy Dave and make money off all those yuppies in San Francisco, charging them for birthday parties?" Mampel said. "I was just going to do clowning on the side to support my music. It just got so fun, I decided I had to choose. I couldn't do both, so I decided to dedicate my life to the clowning thing."

He quickly ditched the Crazy moniker and searched for something "kindler, gentler." ("I had friends named Magic Mike and Circus Sue, and I kind of liked their names," he said.)

Soon, Daffy Dave was born -- along with the silly songs, magic tricks and trademark red-and-yellow outfit. He joined the Golden Gate Clown Association and now works up to 60 events a week, charging about $250 for parties. He's invented some of his own clowning props, including magic socks and a Clap-o-Meter.

He recently came out with his first CD, "Daffy Dave: Git Down & Funny! Sing-Alongs, Stories, Americana." It features 13 original compositions and 13 parodies, such as "Don't Wake Up the Baby" sung to the tune of "Twist and Shout" and "Pharoah, Pharoah" sung to "Louie, Louie."

With a nod to the parents, it also includes impersonations of Elvis Presley on "Elvis Pokey" and Bob Dylan on "Happy Dylan." He models himself on Daffy Duck, tripping over himself and his words, all while remaining serious.

Penny Peck has hired Mampel for 10 shows at the San Leandro Public Library, because he appeals to kids of all ages, as well as their parents.

"He's very high-energy," she said. "Some entertainers go very slow, like what you see on 'Barney.' More children seem to like high-energy shows, more in the vein of Pee-wee Herman. It's a lot more hip."

One of Mampel's biggest fans, Christy Lavery, 5, still remembers being calIed up on stage to help him with a trick at her birthday party.

"He's really silly," said the Palo Alto kindergartner. "He's the wackiest guy."

Her mother, Judy, has hired Mampel for numerous birthday parties, fund-raisers and community social events. Her four kids, ranging in age from 1 to 8 years old, all adore him.

"He has an incredible ability to connect -- not just with a big group of children, but also each child on an individual basis," she said. "You're just drawn into his spell."

Mampel was born in Chicago and raised on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. As a child, he had many answers to that proverbial question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Among his dreams: a dinosaur bone collector, an inventor, a hotel manager, a forest ranger, a mountain man and a musician. But like so many family members before him, he decided to become a minister.

He studied religion and philosophy at Augustana College in Illinois, graduating in 1983. He graduated from Minnesota's United Theological Seminary in 1988. But after four years in the pulpit, he felt constrained.

His father, Art, who lives in Seattle, still remembers getting the surprising phone call.

"He said, 'Well, Dad, I'll be moving on.' I said, 'I only stayed in my first church for three years. Which church are you going to?' He said he followed me into the ministry, but didn't really want to be there," Art recalled.

When Art first saw his son's I clowning performance -- with its underwear jokes and animal imitations -- he was a little unnerved.

"I said, 'Oh, Dave, I don't want to laugh at that.' But then I saw all these little kids rolling on the floor, and I realized that's who he's talking to. I think he made the right decision," Art said.

His sister, Jeanie Swanson, said he was always "a stinker" and got into trouble a lot as a child. She's glad for his jokester ways now that he's available to do performances at her kids' preschool.

"I was surprised about the clowning," she said. "But it's really nice having someone in the business."

Despite his family's religious history, Mampel doesn't attend church regularly, but does feel connected to a higher power.

"I feel a very strong relationship with God, but it's more of a spiritual thing," he said. "I'm more comfortable speaking through my show and my actions."

Now, he finds his happiness and peace making kids giggle and singing songs like "Psycho-Chicken" and "Twinkles, Twinkies, Candy Bars." After performing, he feels "this glow" that lasts a day.

"It's almost like you feel your immune system getting stronger," he said. "The people laughing, the enjoyment, the kids -- it makes me feel so good. This clowning thing is like my medication. The shows are like a tonic for me and my spirit."

By Heather Knight - San Francisco Chronicle


The Silly Adventures of Daffy Dave (DVD) 2007
Daffy Dave's Tree Fort (DVD) 2004

Stories of the Silly and Strange (CD) 2007
Class Clown (CD) 2006
Silly Party Songs (CD) 2006
Bedtime Stories and Lullabies (CD) 2003
The Little Monster (and other silly-scary stories & songs) (CD) 2003



The Daffy Dave Band

Check out for a live look at the Daffy Dave Band!

The Daffy Dave Band is usually an hour-long fun-filled concert for kids and parents to come together singing, dancing and laughing! That's right! Laughing! The way only Daffy Dave can tickle the funny bones of kids and grown-ups too, all while moving around, dancing, singing, and physically acting out parts of Daffy's infectious audience participation cues. (Kids will want to go to bed early after such fun!)

Fresh from premiering Daffy Dave's new movie, Sidekick Productions Presents: "The Silly Adventures of Daffy Dave", The Daffy Dave Band features Daffy Dave (aka Dave Mampel) on guitar and lead vocals, Dusty Buckles (aka Scott Smith) on Lead Guitar and back-up vocals, and Uncle Ben Franklin (aka Mark Stein) on Bass Guitar and back-up vocals. The DD Band set list includes silly original Daffy Dave audience participation songs, traditional kid songs with a silly twist (e.g., "Wheels on the Bus" and "Hurry, Hurry Fire Truck!"), as well as rockin' pop tunes and the always fun, "Chicken Dance"!

Award winner and California's favorite, Daffy Dave, (aka Dave Mampel) has been performing professionally as a Variety Entertainer since 1992. His Comedy Magic, Music and Juggling Shows, have been a popular hit with family audiences in many regions of the USA.

After hearing rave reviews about Scott Smith in 1999, a talented local musician and record producer in the Bay Area, Dave sought out a meeting with him to produce his first children's album, "Get Down and Funny!" which later morphed into "Silly Party Songs" and has now sold over 10,000 copies, thousands of digital downloads, radio airplay, positive reviews in School Library Journal and Booklist Magazine and has won several "Children's Music Web Awards". One of its songs, "Soccer Rock N Roll" even aired on The NBC Today Show. Scott helped Dave record a total of seven albums and eventually played the character, "Dusty Buckles", on Dave's local TV Show, "Daffy Dave's Tree Fort" which won 2nd place in the 2003 nationally acclaimed, Hometown Video Awards.

Scott's multi-talented musical background includes recording with or sharing the stage with Micky Dolenz, Rick Derringer, Larry Coryell, Bon Jovi, Cheap Trick, and members of Santana, Sheryl Crow's band, the Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Winwood and Lindsay Buckingham, to name a few.

As Dave and Scott continued to turn out more fun children's albums and episodes of Daffy Dave's Tree Fort (co-produced with Peter Lonsky), they formed The Daffy Dave Band to play to local fans that now includes over a thousand families in Northern California and in a growing number of other national and international regions.

As the band developed, playing at The Save The Music Festival in Belmont, California, The Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, California, Coyote Point Museum, The City of Redwood City, Bookstock III and corporate shows for Nvidia, Apple Computers, and others, old members moved on and Mark Stein joined as the Bass Player and back-up vocalist, "Uncle Ben Franklin".

Mark helped to Master a few of Daffy Dave's albums and is a long-time friend and associate of Scott Smith. Mark's background includes owning and operating his recording studio and record label and playing in the rock bands Life Of The Party, Symphony Of Satire, Tiny Violins, DMV, as well as several Irish duos and trios, country and jazz bands.

Most of us don't think of silly musicians as educators, but a successful clown/magician/juggler and comedy music group can have a pretty big impact on a young audience. The DD Band's themes are simple, important messages that every child should learn --mistakes are okay, the value of song and dance, cleaning up after yourself, and, most importantly, how to have fun while you are doing and learning these things and so much more. The Daffy Dave Band is now poised to continue touring their positive, funny music and antics to other local, regional and national venues and are currently negotiating several shows for 2009.


Daffy Dave and his Band have a huge fan base at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center Preschool. We have an annual Daffy Dave Concert and Ice Cream Social for the whole Preschool community each fall to start off the school year with hundreds of people in attendance. He has also performed at PJCC Open House events to huge crowds of families with children dancing in the aisles. His humor and music endear him to people of all ages making his concert a wonderful family event. I for one am a Daffy Dave groupie and bring my grandchildren to his concerts as often as possible.

Judy Garb
Director of Early Childhood Education
Peninsula Jewish Community Center