Ben Stiller on ballet recitals, discipline, and birthday parties for children

09/28/2007 at 09:20 PM ET

Benstiller080907_03_cbbActor Ben Stiller, 41, talked ballet recitals, his way of disciplining, and kids’ birthday parties with Jay Leno while appearing on the Tonight Show in promotion of his new film, The Heartbreak Kid. Ben and his actress wife Christine Taylor, 36, are parents to Ella Olivia, 5, and Quinlin Dempsey, 2.

On birthday parties and his kids:

I don’t remember birthday parties when we were kids being such a huge issue. But there’s all sorts of entertainment — there’s all these characters…My daughter loves princesses so we hired a Cinderella for the party. But it was an out-of-work actress — well, working for that afternoon. Not quite princess age, more like…queen age. [laughs]

But you know, the kids love it. You just sort of have to distract them when you’re tipping out Cinderella and she drives off in her Jetta, smoking a butt.

[Quinlin] loves the bouncy castle. He’s a real guy’s guy, loves to run around. He likes cigars…and fast cars and women. You want to break them in early.

On Ella’s ballet recital:

Ella goes to ballet class. They had this recital — and she’s 5 years old, so I think that’s a young age for a kid to be performing in any way. I thought it was going to be a little recital at the little dance studio. But what they did was they combined all the classes that the school had and had one big recital at an 800-seat auditorium. So it was like a three hour thing, and they were scalpin’ tickets outside, and it’s high pressure.

So they made this announcement before the show — ‘No photographing will be allowed during the performance.’ That is insane. Everyone is here with their video cameras to film their kids and it’s like Dick Cheney organized the recital or something.

And I’m nervous, I’m there with my wife, and we’re like, ‘Screw this. We’re going to video our child when she comes out.’ So she comes out, about an hour into the show, and secretly I’m rooting for the other kids to tank, ’cause I don’t know how she’s going to do, I want her to shine.

74869569_cbbAnd she came out and — this is not a biased parent, I’m not kidding — she was incredible. Lit up, responded to the pressure. She’s got her two little dancemates and they’re doing a little tap number. Like, I’m not exaggerating when I say the American Ballet Theater looked like a bunch of hobos.

And I whip out the video camera, and all of a sudden these security goons step out into the aisle, and they’ve got infrared things to shine in the camera, which can like blind you — I’m thinking lawsuit here. They’re blocking the line of sight. So my parental instincts — the part of your brain where you’re like an animal — that kicks in. So I’m like a mad, angry, animal mother. I’m going to get to my child! But I got the video.

On discipline:

I’m not a good disciplinarian. I just don’t know where to go with it. I’ll say, ‘Don’t do that. If you do that, I’ll…Just don’t do that!’ I don’t have like, punishments, or anything.

Or I’ll just go to a bad place with it too. Like [Ella] will get in a fight with [Quin] and I’ll take away the toy, and she’ll say, ‘That’s not fair,’ and I’ll just go right into, ‘Life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people. Welcome to the world!’

Source: The Tonight Show


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Stef on

“Life’s not fair. Welcome to the world.”??

LOL Ben uses the same method of discipline my mom did…

Dana on

I hate to admit it, but I use that method, too.

gianna on

Ben is so funny, love him and his family is cute

Kaley on

I saw this last night and Ben was so funny. You can tell he adores his kids.

sil on

he is so funny! the Cinderella with queen age made me laugh! 🙂

ang on

ben is funny. i can picture him battling security guards like the type of mishaps he gets into in his movies LOL. quinlin likes cigars???? hope he doesn’t burn himself!

lilianic on

I also use the “Life is not fair” routine with my nephew. I think the sooner kids realize that things aren’t always going to go their way, the better it will be for everybody.

And Ben Stiller sounds like a pretty great dad, even if he is a pushover.

Nikki on

On Ellen he said “Life isnt fair and then you die” HE WAS JOKING but that was alot funnier than this. LOL

I love the Stiller family! Ben is my favorite actor, along with Sandler and Robin Williams

Sarah’s note: I missed Ellen, unfortunately! Please let me know if you know where we can find it online.

Ana on

Oh Ben must be a very funny dad. When Ben says cigars he doesn’t mean he smokes them or plays with them in a way he can burn himself.
Not being able to film your own child is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of! Ben did alright filming her daughter LOOL. And yeah, I can imagine him battling security guards too!

Di on

I believe the rationale for not being allowed to film your child at these kinds of events is that if every parent moves into aisle and starts filming, it distracts the other parents and perhaps interferes with their viewing of the performance. In lieu of each parent bringing their own video camera, schools sometimes hire one person to shoot the whole performance and then the parents have the option of buying the official video later.

morgan on

I too think it’s a bit silly to not be able to take pictures or video of your kid. I mean these are 5 year olds doing a ballet recital for fun, this isnt the Russian ballet co that people pay huge amounts of money to see. It’s all for fun and a family should have fun with it, what a cute holiday card that would be with Ella in her tutu!

FC on

He’s hilarious talking about his kids. I loved him talking about Quin loving cigars, fast cars and women. Quin sure has a taste for the fast life…;)

But, I would’ve done the same thing and taped anyway. Even if I had to do it from my seat. I’d just make sure I had a good enough seat to get a great recording.

poppy on

I remember the “life isn’t fair” answer and that ALWAYS made me so angry. Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make it as fair as possible. Don’t use that line on your kids.