Even though hospital clowns perform in small, intimate spaces such as patient rooms and waiting rooms, we should always make each presentation concise and polished. Comedy in particular requires certain elements for the humor to hit home and hospital clowns must be well-versed in how to do it. When and how to end a piece is a critical part of any comedic structure.
The most obvious time to end is when the audience is laughing. It is always best to leave when everyone has high energy so nothing fizzles out on its own. Another time to end is at the natural end of a gag, such as in The Good Juggler; that is an example of the “when”. In the same gag, one clown chases the other out of the room; that is an example of the “how”. It’s better to err on the side of short and sweet.
Now that I am on my own I will never get chased out of a room, so I use a different tactic to leave in such a way that is natural and still works with the gag. Here are two examples:
Puns (using a mini stool in a specimen bottle, a mini grater and a tiny pail):
Very seriously, I say “I found a stool sample with no name on it, it is yours?” I show the mini stool.
Then I say “Sorry, that joke wasn’t so great, maybe this one will be a little greater.” I show the mini grater and laugh like it’s the funniest thing in the world.
Finally, I say “I’d better be going now because you’re looking a little pale.” I walk out laughing and wait outside for a second. Then I run back in and say “Get it? A little pail?”, then I leave laughing some more.
Magic coloring book:
“I have to do this trick for the little kids, but my magic word won’t work. Can you give me a magic word?”
“Ok, you have to wave your hand over the coloring book and say the word three times.” [The coloring book now has colors.]“Awesome! Can I give you a nose sticker?
“I’m going to go do the trick and take credit for it, so can you do that magic thing again and remove the colors?” [The book is totally blank.]
“Oh. Great. Now I can’t do the trick. Is it because I said I’d take the credit? Instead of a nose sticker, I should have given you a sticker that says ‘I humiliated a clown today’. No, I’m fine...I’m not mad...that’s fine...”[I leave in tears.]
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