There’s always room for silence. Some of the best clowning conveys messages in scenes without words. Possibly the most creative clowning we see these days is found in the Cirque du Soleil shows. They tell beautiful, heartfelt stories with music, artful makeup and amazing costumes.
Turn back the clock just a bit, and you can appreciate the brilliant Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean, an example of [mostly] silent clowning without being dressed as a clown. For other such examples, you can turn back the clock further and enjoy antics from Harpo Marx, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. My personal favorites are Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball (Fun fact: I was named after the I Love Lucy show!), both of whom had many priceless moments of silent clowning on the small screen.
Hospital clowning can lend itself to fun silent performances; I’ve shared many with my former clown colleagues. Following are some to try:
* In a waiting room or lobby, walk in as if you are like everyone else, minding your business. One or both clowns should have a large squeaker in the back pocket of their lab coat so that when they sit, there is a loud squeak. (You may have to adjust yourself as you sit to make sure you sit on the squeaker.)
Both clowns become startled and act as if the chair is damaged. Use a hidden hand squeaker (see my “Squeak Removal” post) to touch the seat and be shocked that it really does squeak. Find another place to sit or do a squeak removal with a thumb light.
* In a waiting room or lobby, pretend to trip near a sitting person. Look at them like it’s their fault, then place caution tape around them and walk away.
* In a long hallway, preferably one that is not full, walk about ten feet behind someone and say “Psst...” as if you are trying to get their attention. When they turn around, look around as if you are studying the walls. It's classic foolishness, but it can get a good laugh.
*Feel free to photo-bomb anyone [ie. jump into a group having a photo taken unexpectedly]. Clowns are usually forgiven.
Lucy E. Nunez has been a theatrical performer since 2002 and an improv performer since 2003. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care program in 2014. She is now Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds
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- Tags: Clowning on a Budget, hospital clowning, Improv, improvisation, silent clowning, simple fun, squeakers, thumb lights