When I was hired as a hospital clown by The Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit, we received thorough training, mentoring, structured rehearsals, skills workshops and a formal clown conference at Paul Newman’s The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut. As if this wasn’t wonderful enough, it was all paid training!
The time came when my former day employer moved and seeking a new situation made it impossible to keep my wonderful, yet perpetually part-time clowning job, so I had to give it up (at least for now). I missed this fulfilling work so much, though, that I offered to do it on a volunteer basis at a smaller hospital. Now I do it for free at the end of each long week of nursing work. Needless to say, sometimes I don’t feel like getting up early on the weekend to spend time and energy performing at the hospital.
During my time with Big Apple, sometimes the clowns arrived for a shift worried, depressed, tired or even in mourning. This is one of the occasions that made partnering so important. We would lift each other up, talk and plan gags that made the shift less taxing on the ailing clown. I remember that my own cares would gradually melt off as I applied my make-up in the dressing room.
Now, as I do this on my own, I notice that it’s tougher to drag myself up from whatever issues I may have as I prepare for a shift - I have to do a lot of positive self-talk! But I notice that my cares still gradually melt away as I do my make-up. And at the end of each shift, I think about all the day’s wonderful moments with the young patients and their families and I am reminded that it’s still the best job in the world.
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 Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds