One the best things I discovered online when I began hospital clowning was ClownAntics.com. I will be forever grateful that they provided a pun-derful treasure. Thanks to their “little pail”, “little grater” and “stool sample” mini gags, I have three gifts in my right inner pocket that keep on giving.
As I browsed their site, I was drawn to these adorable little items because I’ve always loved miniatures. I wasn’t automatically planning on buying them because puns are not my style. I don’t mind being a bit corny, but I wasn’t sure just how I would use these little things, especially with a partner. As new clowns, we were told to always involve our partner in as many gags as possible, and I was too inexperienced to incorporate my partners into everything I was finding online.
One of the most important things we were taught during the artistic portion of training was to leave the room or performance area on a high note. Leave them laughing or at least happy, whether you were there for a short time or for a long time. Not all gags will hit home, however, and you still have to find a reason to leave.
As a partner I wasn’t the strongest initiator, but I was a strong support, so I thought these little puns could work as an exit gag if needed. I purchased all three of them and sometimes I just use one, but many times I use them one after the other! At first I began to deliver the lines very dryly, hoping it was obvious and ridiculous, but one of my supervisors suggested I say them as if they were the funniest lines in the world.
What we did was, when it seemed like it was time to leave, I would say: “We’d better get going because you’re looking a little pale...get it? A little pail!” and I’d crack up. Once the laughter died down, I’d say: “I know that wasn’t such a great joke, but maybe the next one will be a little greater...get it? A little grater!”
Normally, I would plan ahead with my partner and have them pull me out of the room while I was still laughing. Sometimes I would wait a beat in the hallway, run back in and say “...get it? A little ___!” and have my partner apologize profusely while pulling me out again. If my partner didn't pull me out I would sometimes add: “But seriously, I found this stool sample without a name on it...” and just before they would worry that I was going to show something inappropriate, I’d pull the little stool out and say “...is it yours?”
I was concerned that solo hospital clowning would put an end to this gag...it hasn’t. I leave on my own and run back in on my own...it still gets a laugh!
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