If you are hospital clowning, hopefully you’ve been trained properly, you can spare a little time every week or so, and you love it. If you are fortunate enough to be a paid clown, it’s a side gig and it pays for itself. If you are a volunteer however, it can be a bit of a sacrifice.
Sometimes you have to push yourself a bit to get in the spirit of entertaining on your days off from regular work. These are the days when you must remind yourself why you do this. The best way to do this is to just do your shift because afterwards you will reflect on the day and realize that the sacrifice was worth it. You made some children and their families forget for just a moment that they were in a hospital. It’s also gratifying when you know that you gave some of the employees a reason to smile as well.
As difficult as it may be for a volunteer to do, a holiday is an excellent day to offer your clowning services. Even if you make it a shorter shift [because children’s hospitals tend to be quite empty on holidays], it is a nice thing for those working or staying at a hospital to feel like they are part of the holiday.
What you do on the special day should be slightly different than what you normally do, but you don’t have to spend a lot for something that only happens once a year. You can add some dollar store decorations to your costume to make it more festive, or you can perform a new magic trick that is holiday-themed.
Get creative and simply do something so silly that they can’t help but laugh. For example, on July fourth I used a small battery powered red, white and blue string of lights that I purchased at the dollar store for some hospital foolishness:
In the rooms where I found teens or pre-teens, I told them in a clandestine way that I had smuggled some illegal fireworks into the hospital, and I asked if I could show them. All of them said yes, so I turned on the flashing lights and swirled them around making fireworks sounds. They laughed and looked at me like I was crazy and I said, “I really can’t bring real ones in or I’ll set something on fire by mistake”. This got an even bigger laugh and then I would either do a trick or leave the room.
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