Farts are funny…it’s just the truth!

The room was dark, a boy who looked to be about ten years old in the bed. He had a flat affect – fancy word for really depressed. His mother stood at his bedside as we entered. A million thoughts go through my head at moments like this. How can I reach this kid? What would snap him out of this funk? What can I possibly offer in this moment? Think of something funny – he’s mature, don’t treat him like a baby. Quick – come up with something clever before he discounts our presence and casts us off like so many things that have failed to alter his feelings.

First, a bit of witty repartee with my partner, old stand-by moments: hey, we are your new doctors…nothing….we’ve come to ask a few questions…nothing…a little slapstick with my partner….nothing. My tie flips up and hits me in the nose….nothing. It’s a struggle. A huge percentage of our customers would already be laughing at our goofy antics, but not this kid. He’s tough as nails. Nothing will crack him. Then the moment, which feels like an hour, where my partner and I non-verbally start to give up. It’s not the end of the world I tell myself. It happens. The beauty of a regular clown program is that tomorrow I will be back. Tomorrow he may feel better and be more receptive to a laugh. But what if tomorrow doesn’t come? Or, what if he goes home and I don’t get another chance. The future of how this kid will look at clowns rests on me and my partner.

I look at my partner, I start to leave, I take a few steps and then I abandon all my carefully thought out material in favor of some good old-fashioned low brow comedy – the whoopee cushion. It lives in my back pocket and it self-inflates, which allows me to lean against a wall and appear to pass gas – loudly. I do it. Suddnely, the kid whips his head around to see where the intrusion came from. He sees me, sheepishly apologizing for tooting in his room. His head lifts up off the pillow, and he starts laughing. Hard. Then he rolls his eyes at us – then laughs again. Then his mother’s shoulders visibly drop from the intense position they had been in for awhile – like since he was hospitalized. The door is open for us and we have another few minutes of comedy before we leave. And when we look back through the window, mom and son are still laughing. Two points for the clowns.

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Maggie KennedyOutreach