Once a hospital clown or clowning program has been established at a hospital and different departments begin to get word on the effectiveness of hospital clowning, administrators may want to observe what the clown or clowns do on a shift. Hopefully they also begin to see that you have legitimate skills and demonstrate enough professionalism to possibly be of service in another context.
Many hospitals do special community events like health fairs, open house parties, employee appreciation lunches, anniversary celebrations and fundraisers. These are all opportunities to entertain event guests and hospital administrators my want to add the clowns to the festivities. This is usually done by invitation, but if you are aware of an upcoming event, you can try to run a request to participate up the chain of command and see if you are welcome.
If such an invitation is extended, you may be asked to perform a mini-show, in which case you must be prepared or ask to present something simple. The most common thing requested, however, is a strolling character. This means you will be asked to walk around an event as people are socializing and seamlessly incorporate some gags, magic or juggling skills into the schmoozing. If the event is mostly for adults, you may need to adjust what you normally do on a regular shift and you can take more risks.
If you come across another event entertainer, you can greet them quickly, but do not interrupt or otherwise interfere with their show unless invited to do so. Try to support what they are doing and encourage others to enjoy them as you move on to entertain in another area.
One nurses week at my former hospital ended with a crazy dance party in one of the conference rooms. My shift partner and I were not aware of this event and we asked to go in. They welcomed us with open arms, but the party was in full swing-they didn’t really need us. Instead of trying to draw attention to ourselves by performing, we just joined into the dancing and general silliness. We were there long enough to take some pictures with the nurses, but when they offered us food, we politely declined and went on with our shift. They continued enjoying their party.
Join in the fun, go where you’re needed, but know when it’s time to let others shine without your help.
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