I loved working as a hospital clown for The Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit at a large children’s hospital for three years and then I had the honor of doing it as a volunteer for a smaller hospital for one year. Needless to say, I met a lot of families and took a lot of pictures with them. I also got to do three local television spots about the programs and the good things they were doing for the young patients and hospital employees.
I live, work, have performed in all kinds of live theatre [and still perform improvisational theatre] near all these neighborhoods, so occasionally being recognized is inevitable. When people say I look familiar to them, I never know where they may have seen me, so I usually say “Uh-oh!” because I wonder how silly I may have been at the time! I got to be such a fool for a living. Thankfully, I’ve never been recognized while doing anything to diminish my reputation (there’s very little danger of this though).
I was once training for a temporary job in a bridal shop and one of the consultants kept asking herself where she knew me from. Then she finally smiled and asked if I worked at the children’s hospital. Of course I said “Uh-oh!” and she laughed. She told me not to worry, it had been a fun performance for her little niece. She then proceeded to tell all the other employees what my other job was! My trying to fly under the radar was an epic fail at that establishment!
Although you are human and usually performing for pay, keep in mind that performing for children is a bit different that for adult audiences. I was a live children’s theatre performer for many years and the magic of the theatre is truly magical for them. They know you are a performer, but they still hold you in high regard. It is important when you meet them [dressed as a normal person] not to deflate them or their family members if you can help it. (Of course, it is even more important to treat them well when in costume!)
When meeting someone who recognizes and appreciates you for your performances, be gracious and grateful for their kind words. They [usually well-meaning] are sort of starstruck on a smaller scale than if you were famous, but it’s flattering nonetheless!
Lucy E. Nunez is an LPN and has been a theatrical performer since 2002. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in 2014. She was a resident clown there and at Baptist Children's Hospital. For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds