Hat Trap - Nurse Lulu's Improv Series

There are many fun things you can do with a partner when clowning in the emergency department waiting room like some of the gags in: Singing Silly, There’s Always a Birthday and Enjoy the Silence. You can even do some of these if clowning alone.

There’s classic clown visual gag that one of my former supervisors initiated one night during our visit to the ER which we managed to do throughout the entire emergency waiting room at my former hospital. This is a very simple gag that’s been done in some way by nearly every cinematic clown [classic clowns Bill Irwin and Avner Eisenberg are great examples].

When a couple of professional circus clowns taught this gag at one of our workshops, I wasn’t sure how it could possibly sustain anyone’s attention in the hospital setting. You do it, it’s short, it’s done:

The clown’s hat falls off, gets knocked off or he/she drops it for some reason.

The clown leans over to pick it up, while simultaneously kicking it away.

The clown walks over to it, leans over again while kicking it away and becomes a bit frustrated.

This can either go on until a spectator helps or the until the clown “traps” the hat somehow.

When my supervisor initiated this gag in the ER, he used it as a reason to engage amused onlookers and along with my support, made them part of the gag. We would ask them for help, attempt a performance in the middle of trying to solve the problem, ask for advice or otherwise encourage them to comment on the situation. We did this all through the entire room (it is quite large and was full that night), never actually picking up the hat, but creating new reasons to make both children and adults laugh.

This was not only a good example of empowering your audience, it also showed how an experienced clown’s skill can blend with a less experienced but helpful partner for a simple yet effective performance.


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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