Hospital clowning is fantastic not only because you know you are doing some good for patients, visitors and employees, it can also be extremely fun for yourself and your partner. Some of my favorite places to visit: waiting rooms.
As with all other areas of the hospital where families are gathered awaiting news, you must always approach with caution. Observe their faces, body language and behavior for signs of grief or other emotions indicating that they may not be interested in being entertained.
Once you’ve established that they are open to a performance, you can do a variety of things. This can be a great opportunity to try the “caution tape” or “squeaky chair” gags from my Enjoy the Silence post. Or, if you are working with a partner, try something that my former supervisor did on one of my first shifts:
* Find a waiting room that has magazines. Walk in with your partner as if you’re not sure what’s expected of you in this room (no need to sit, just stand in the middle of the room).
* Notice that there are magazines and realize that you’re supposed to read a story out loud.
* One partner “reads a story” while the other reacts, going along with the partner’s emotions. Make up the story, pretending it’s in the magazine. No need to have a full story arc; my partner’s story went like this: “Once upon a time, there were elephants who ran out of peanuts.”
* That much is enough for both you and your partner to begin weeping as if this was the most tragic thing you’ve ever heard.
* Once you hug and cry on each other, trying to comfort yourselves, begin to look for sympathy throughout the room. (“Isn’t that sad? Those poor elephants had nothing to eat!” ) Continue your crying fit until you eventually walk out of the room, still in tears.
May your New Year be filled with peace and smiles! Happy 2019!
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