If you do “clown rounds” once or twice a week at a children’s hospital, chances are that you won’t see the same patients often. Some units may have “frequent flyers” whose chronic conditions force them in and out for treatment, but for the most part the little faces will change. This is great news when you’re clowning on a budget because magic tricks and gags can be repeated over and over without a problem. There comes a time, however, that you will realize that you still need a change once in a while.
Repeating the same gags and tricks is very helpful not only to improve your technique, but to discover new ways of using them. Your audience may laugh or be impressed by something you didn’t foresee or something that happened by accident. That said, you should always be on the lookout for something new.
It’s good to keep things fresh for yourself and for your partner; after all, this is supposed to be fun. When the clowns have fun and work well together, it’s undeniable and contagious. But have you checked out magic trick websites and stores lately? Things are expensive! Most of us who are clowning on a budget cannot spend money all the time. It’s great if you find an affordable website like ClownAntics.com, but there may be a pricey item that you like elsewhere. This is a good opportunity to come up with an idea for a trick and create it yourself.
A former clown supervisor of mine began as a magician when he was twelve years old, and some of his best tricks and gags where so unique, I had to ask where he found them. He said that since he was unable to buy tricks as a child, he had to learn to make things himself. He created nesting hats, blooming lapels and jumping rings! He was brilliant with magnets and paint and he was always willing to teach the rest of us.
When deciding on a purchase for your bag of tricks (and gags), consider its relation to your character or how you can incorporate your patients and partner in the trick. Perhaps it’s an item which can be used in several different ways, making it an investment. Maybe you have an idea and you can create the gag using items in your garage with the help of a more experienced performer. You don’t have to break the bank to be an effective, memorable hospital clown.
Lucy E. Nunez has been a theatrical performer since 2002. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in 2014. She was a resident clown there and at Baptist Children's Hospital. For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds