Hospital Clowning: Hold the Sweets

Monday, December 11th 2017

2017-12-11 21.06.47

Dr. Be Bopper (still struggling to clown face), Dr. Bucket Buster and Tiffany Riley aka: Dr. Slappy

Today at Boston Children’s Hospital I got to pair with Dr. Bucket Buster under the observation of our awesome Laughter League Director, Tiffany.  


A five year old girl with no hair in her Oncology bed is an Arabic speaker.  After a bunch of nonsense between Dr. Bucket Buster and I introducing ourselves, losing a name tag, getting entangled retrieving it from under the chair, WEARING the chair as part of our now shared outfit, the child insists the chair goes DOWN, it is for SITTING, we need to get ANOTHER chair from OVER THERE (which we inefficiently do, with sound effects), and sit DOWN.  NOW it is time for a song.  “A B C D!” she exclaims.  A song we all know!  Voila.  “Again!” We do it again.  And then some Twinkle Star.  She is obviously enlivened to be practicing her English letters and words and it is amazing to sing with her.


A little boy in Family Clinic is fascinated by the strange device on Dr. Bucket Buster’s costume (fart gun).  She demonstrates that it is a megaphone, then holds it out for him to try.   Not sure I can describe the exhilaration of a 3 or 4 year old at hearing his own voice translated into fart sounds, so you’re just going to have to imagine.


At one point Dr. Bucket Buster walks into a cardboard box and literally wears it around on her foot for nearly the rest of our shift.  A little girl in Family Clinic advises her to use butter to get it off, followed by a lot of back and forth about where to buy butter, what else to buy, that it would need to be googled and where to put the list.  “On your kitchen table in your home!!” the child insists.  Dr. Bucket Buster promises to remember; “OK, kitchen table, kitchen table, kitchen table… hide it in the dog food.  Got it.  Bye!”  “”NOOO!” cries the child.  Dr. Bucket Buster goes back for more advice.  Etc. Etc.  I watch in incredulity, chime in where I can and underscore the whole thing with ukulele.


I may never achieve the mind-bending, stupefying logic of Dr. Bucket Buster, but I do  have confidence I will start figuring out what the hell to do and say eventually.

In my Hospital Clowning journey so far I have learned to be more forgiving of myself when I don’t know what I’m doing.  Tonight I experienced only a few moments of abject CHOKING.  And I’m gaining some comfort and confidence in my ability to pull songs and music out of thin air to fit different circumstances.


Interestingly, my director’s main observation of my work tonight is that my default mode is to be “sweet.”  (To be sure, this is a professional quality more than a personal one, ahem.)  She also noted my tendency to take charge sometimes (depends on the partner).

She said it’s great when I take CHARGE, and it’s great when I’m DUMB, but it’s not great when I’m SWEET.  Sweet is lame (my word).  It’s not funny.  And it’s not clowning!

There you have it.  Some great clown direction.  It’s no secret I got work to do.  I welcome it.  Something tells me I might be able to find my way towards BOSSY and DUMB. 

Just as soon as I get out of my shoes:

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About circuskitchen

performing artist, mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece... just a regular extraordinary person
This entry was posted in art, comedy, education, Hospital Clowning, love, making art, work and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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