There are moments when hospital clowning is difficult, sad or challenging but most of the time it’s just pure fun! If you have fun, those you are entertaining will also have fun. One of my favorite things is when people ask for photos.
If a family is happy but quiet or they have a baby, taking pictures is a simple, predictable thing-smile and wait. If a family is excited or being silly, there are several things I like to do to make even picture-taking fun, depending on the situation. If a photo is requested as you are walking down the hall, it is essential to make it special because this may be your only chance to entertain this particular group or person.
In this situation, I may tell them that there is a price for the picture; they usually hesitate and then I tell them the payment is to wear a nose sticker. If there are people celebrating something and taking their own photos in the hallway, I attempt to “photobomb” them (i.e. jump into the picture uninvited) – this is usually received so well that they request more pictures! If a photo is requested and someone takes a long time taking the picture, I’ll say “Hurry up, I’m losing my sincerity”, “Everyone hold your sincerity” or if the photographer asks us to say “cheese”, I say “gorgonzola”. Silly, but these always get a laugh, and the picture comes out great!
If a photo is requested in a child’s room, it is necessary to adjust yourself to where the child is. Squeeze in where you can; make it easy for them whether they are in bed, wearing hardware or in a wheelchair. For safety and out of respect, it is best in all photo opportunities to avoid carrying anyone including pets, babies and small children, avoid touching anyone unless requested and if it is permitted, hug only from the shoulders up and only in the presence of parents, other family members or nurses.
In almost all my posts I have demonstrated that I’m a big fan of nose stickers, but it is necessary to be alert if you are told that a patient has allergies. Find out if one of them is to adhesives because you may not be able to place a nose sticker on them.
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 Unit in 2014. She is now Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds