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August 08, 2021

Larry Krasner discusses wearing a ponytail into his 40s on NPR's 'Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!'

Philadelphia's district attorney opened up to host Peter Sagal about the moment he knew his flow had to go

Entertainment Radio
80821 Krasner ponytail.png Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner was a special guest on an episode of NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" that aired Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021. During the show, host Peter Sagal asked Krasner about the ponytail he had while working as a defense attorney in the city, which was captured in footage from the PBS docuseries "Philly D.A."

Before he took the reins of Philadelphia's Office of the District Attorney, Larry Krasner sported a ponytail. And, for a while, he was pretty proud of it.

"I had a ponytail because it was cool," Krasner told Peter Sagal of NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!"

Krasner was a guest on the latest episode of NPR's weekly news quiz show, which was recorded Thursday night at the Mann Center — in front of a live audience for the first time in more than a year. Sagal asked Krasner about his old hairstyle after watching the PBS docuseries "Philly D.A.," which chronicles Krasner's rise to office and his polarizing efforts to reform the city's criminal justice system during his first term. 

Most importantly (in the context of this story), "Philly D.A." confirmed a 2018 report from the New Yorker that Krasner wore a long ponytail into his 40s as a budding defense attorney who sued the Philadelphia Police Department more than 75 times. When the New Yorker's profile of Krasner was published, the Inquirer fact-checked the ponytail claim and found "plenty of evidence showing Krasner didn't have a ponytail — and no evidence showing he did." The newspaper decided to put a bounty on photos of Krasner with a ponytail, offering a T-shirt in return, but they never surfaced. 

Luckily, filmmakers Yoni Brook, Ted Passon and Nicole Salazar got their hands on some footage of the young district attorney to-be for the docuseries, which you can stream on the PBS Passport app and on Topic

"I was a little upset," Krasner told Sagal, referring to his ponytail resurfacing. 

80821 Krasner ponytail PBS.pngPhilly D.A./PBS

Footage from the PBS docuseries “Philly D.A.” shows Larry Krasner, left, sporting a ponytail during his time as a defense attorney in Philadelphia. Krasner was asked about the hairstyle choice during an appearance on “NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!”

So what made Krasner realize the flow had to go? Turning 40, it seems. 

"There was a moment when my wife, who was at that point running to be (a) judge, in the middle of a terrible snowstorm, had to go to Harrisburg in order to certify the paperwork she had to certify to run. And I was at home with two young kids and a ponytail turning 40," he said. "And I found a cutting device." 

"So you just had this moment of, like, 'Oh my god. I'm a 40-year-old man with two kids,'" Sagal said. 

"You know, I just felt like 40 is a thing," Krasner replied. "And as I went to cut it, it turned out I didn't know how to use this cutting device, so I ended up looking like Pepe Le Pew. I actually cut the hair on the middle of my head in a stripe all the way back. And it became necessary to cut off all of my hair that night." 

"You went to cut off your ponytail, and you took the clippers and you started at the front and headed back to get it?" Sagal asked. 

"That's correct," Krasner answered. "Yes I did." 

"And you're a D.A., huh?" asked fellow guest Dulcé Sloan, a comedian who is a correspondent on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah."

80821 Krasner ponytail PBS doc.pngPhilly D.A./PBS

Footage from the PBS docuseries “Philly D.A.” shows a young Larry Krasner with long hair during his time as a defense attorney in Philadelphia. Krasner was asked about his old ponytail during an appearance on “NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!”

Sagal eventually got down to business and asked Krasner about his time in office, how "Philly D.A." compares to "Mare of Easttown" and his father's crime novels. Krasner also held his own during a round of trivia. 

"One of my theories is that very serious people in the news — politicians, et cetera — they don’t like being serious all the time,” Sagal told WHYY after the show. “They know they have to be. That’s the job, especially him. One thing I’ve learned after 23 years of doing this is everybody wants a chance to get a laugh. It’s one rule of life: Everybody wants to get a laugh."

Listen to "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" from the Mann Center in full below.

Krasner defeated challenger Carlos Vega in the Democratic primary in May. He is vying for a second term in office against Republican defense attorney Chuck Peruto in the November general election.