In the hospital, not only do clowns aim to empower the patient, we also try to “think outside the box”. Anything we do should have a purpose besides showing that we have skills. Since we are clowns, usually that purpose is to induce laughter or smiles. With magic tricks for example, the goal is not show the trick, but to create a backdrop for comedy to happen. Since I’m not a magician, this is especially important or me because my magic will not be astounding. That is not to say that non-magicians shouldn’t practice in order to present a polished performance, but the focus should be on fun instead of trying to be impressive.
(Side note: during hospital clown training we were told that there are certain cultures and religions in which even comedic, silly magic is offensive and we must “read the room” as best as we can. If we still commit an error, we must apologize and move on to something else or leave if asked to.)
Keeping in mind that hospital clowns should always try to empower the patient or incorporate them as much as possible, I came up with a little twist on a rope trick (which can also involve my clown partner).
Materials needed: Rope-straightening trick
Note: If the patient is reluctant to participate (though not offended), the clown partner can do the “magic word” gags.
The Rope Trick:
The clown with the rope says she has been trying to do the trick where the rope becomes straight, but her magic word [hocus-pocus for example], does the opposite. The clowns then ask the patient for a magic word of their choice (any will do). If they can’t come up with one, the partner clown can give one, like abracadabra.
The magic trick is performed when the patient uses the magic word. When the trick works, the clowns are happy but remind the patient and each other that the other word must be avoided because it will ruin the effect.
At this point, you hope the patient is mischievous enough to say the word, so that the clown can release it, pretending to be disappointed that the “evil” word was said, thus ruining the trick.
If this doesn’t happen, the partner clown should say the word. In this case, the magician clown should be angry at the partner and chase him out of the room, hopefully to the sound of laughter.
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