So, you want to be a Clown Doctor?
Being a Clown Doctor is not like any other gig…even if you have performed in hospitals before. This is interactive clowning in an intimate environment that is immensely rewarding.
A high level of performing skills is a prerequisite. Our Clown Doctors specialise in different areas including magic, puppetry, music, storytelling and mime, and come from differing performing backgrounds. A good Clown Doctor Unit is one where the performers’ skills complement each other.
Even if you are a highly skilled performer, this does not mean you will be a good Clown Doctor. Clown Doctors also need excellent improvisation skills and exceptional people skills, and need to be able to relate not only to children but also adult patients, families and staff.
As well as excellent performance and improvisation skills, the personal qualities we look for include empathy, sensitivity, warmth, caring, good judgment, flexibility, responsibility, commitment, being a team player and of course, being funny! It is a real challenge to use humour in a therapeutic environment.
The Clown Doctor needs to be able to ‘read’ a situation in an instant, and adapt. The child, not the performance, always comes first. Sensitivity to the response is very important. Always take your cue from the patient. Your performance material should be brief and portable.
Ideally, children should be participants, rather than spectators, in a short sketch. It is also important to involve the family at the bedside. Interacting is more important than performing to an audience. Adapting your approach to each specific case is of great importance as ages, situations and feelings differ widely and patients may vary from having a broken leg to terminal cancer. Both the physical and emotional conditions need to be considered.
‘Clown rounds’ are conducted through all wards, emergency department, outpatient clinics, physiotherapy, and of course the foyer, corridors and lifts in hospitals. Children in the emergency department are often very distressed. Clown Doctors are able to help. It is your ability that can turn the situation around and make treatment easier for everyone.
Clown Doctors can divert a child while a procedure is performed. This not only makes it easier on the child, but also on the staff. Taking blood from a screaming child is not much fun for the nurse either. Clown antics can make these frightening procedures easier for the child, the staff and family members.
The Clown Doctor look… costumes, make-up and props
The Humour Foundation supplies an individual Clown Doctor coat to each Clown Doctor. It has The Humour Foundation logo and your Clown Doctor name on the back. Add your own personal touches to the coat – badges are very popular! Your own choice of clown costume goes under the coat. Simple is best!
Make-up is best kept simple too. Theatre-style clowning is the look, rather than circus style, which is meant for an audience to see from a long distance. White-face and elaborate make-up can frighten children. Leave plenty of natural skin, and add a red clown nose.
The Humour Foundation supplies props – red noses, bubbles, magic tricks, massage rollers etc. You are also welcome to use your own props, though infection control is an important issue with props.
The Medical Model
Clown Doctors wear white ‘medical’ coats – even though the real doctors don’t! – decorated with colourful appliqués, The Humour Foundation logo and their name on the back, and large pockets for props.
Clown Doctors choose their own ‘doctor’ names, for example, we have Dr Tickle, Dr Nose Best, Dr Phil Betta, Dr Kerfuffle and Dr Achoo.
The Clown Doctors gently parody the medical routine. Fear and anxiety are reduced by exaggerating intimidating jargon and procedures to humorous extremes. Red-nose transplants, oversized medical equipment, humour checks, funny-bone examinations, and cat scans are all generic procedures of the Clown Doctor.
You will soon come up with medically based ideas of your own. Think about how your regular routines can be adapted. The hospital environment is rich in inspiration!
Clown Doctors Program Objectives
• To bring joy and laughter, helping children return to their child’s world of play and fantasy rather than the adult world of technology, procedures and seriousness
• To help children in hospital deal with a range of emotions including fear, confusion, depression, anger, anxiety, change and a sense of loss
• To help children adapt to medical procedures
• To help to reduce stress for patients, their families and carers
• To aid recovery
• To reduce stress for all hospital staff
• To work in partnership with health care professionals including doctors, nurses, play therapists and physiotherapists.
“I have watched children move from anxious and tense to relaxed and happy as they have their red-nose transplant done … the smiles on their faces can last for days.”
-Leanne Hallowell Chief Educational Play Therapist, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
The Humour Foundation is seeking performers for the Alice Springs Clown Doctor team. Apply Now
Please note: This is a PAID CONTRACTOR position.
Clown Doctors work in hospitals bringing joy and laughter to sick children, their families and hospital staff. While medical doctors do ward rounds looking at what is wrong with a child, Clown Doctors do clown rounds connecting with what is right with the child. Their work covers a variety of situations, from working with clinicians distracting children during painful procedures, to visiting children receiving treatment for ongoing medical conditions and brightening the experience of children staying in hospital whilst they recover from surgery or illness.
We are looking for a performer to add to our team of Clown Doctors in Alice Springs. Performers of colour and/or from diverse cultural backgrounds are highly encouraged to apply. Previous applicants are also encouraged to apply.
Clown Doctors require a unique set of skills. If you have the following skills, please contact us!
- Highly skilled and experienced in clown and/or improvisation
- Music, movement, and physical theatre skills are a bonus
- Sensitivity, empathy, and a strong ability to “read the room”
- Able to respond positively to vulnerable people and stressful situations
- A good listener, able to work effectively in pairs, within a team and an organisation
- Willing to make the child highest status, able to connect with 0-18 year old’s
- Reliable, punctual, well presented, and available for ongoing part-time work
- Imaginative and funny!
Want to know more? Click to hear Clown Doctors talk about their work and the organisation.
Apply Now by completing the registration form to start your journey into becoming a Clown Doctor.
Alice Springs — To be invited to audition, you MUST lodge your registration form by 5pm Monday 12th June. Please note: Audition dates are Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th June 2023.
The Humour Foundation is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people, and vulnerable adults, expecting all staff and performers to share this commitment. Selected applicants must provide a current Working with Children Check and National Police Check.
Selected applicants will also be asked to comply with The Humour Foundation’s immunisation policy prior to commencing work.