Believe it or not, celebrating a birthday regularly is a great way to stay within, in fact, under your clowning budget. One of my clown supervisors was an expert at creating silliness out of thin air. She and I could spend an entire shift celebrating random birthdays throughout the hospital. (By the way, employees who sit at a desk all day love this gag!)
If you would like to try this fun gag, follow this procedure:
-walk into a common area such as a lobby or a waiting room and huddle with your clown partner, preferably taking out a piece of paper from your pocket and consulting it.
-pick out an adult or an intrigued older child (little ones can be unpredictable and dislike this gag); act as if their name or description is on the paper.
-scurry over to the target after the huddle and sing “Happy Birthday” with enthusiasm. If they or anyone with them says it’s not their birthday or tells you that you’ve got the wrong person, remain unfazed.
-as you sing “Happy Birthday”, hold the “happy birthday, dear...” until they tell you their name, then finish the song.
-after the song, bring them random items you find in the room (plants, paper, pens, chairs, gloves, etc.) as long as these don’t belong to anyone and tell them that these are the gifts you got them.
-do all of this with complete sincerity and walk away feeling thrilled that you made somebody’s day.
(I recently tried this gag on a 14-year-old boy who I was told had no interest in the Disney characters that had paid him a visit a few days before. I made such a fool out of myself that he couldn't help laughing at me; and that was my goal.)
Feel free to remind the birthday target that they always need their “paperwork” in the hospital, and then drag a roll of toilet paper from the nearest bathroom (without ripping it) all the way to their seat in the waiting room. (Hospital employees don’t usually get annoyed about this.) If it rips along the way, remain unfazed and pile as much toilet paper on them as you can in the moment.
One of my clown supervisors pulled one of the hospital’s paintings off the hallway wall and put it on a patient’s bed as a gift!
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