healing with laughter and reminding people in their darkest time that joy is everywhere
About eight years ago I was approached by an amazing artist, Vincenzo Tortorici, to audition to be part of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in Atlanta. Clown Care is a non-profit community outreach program which employs skilled professional performers to make “clown rounds” as “clown doctors” in paediatric hospitals. It is the original hospital clowning program in the world. The program has a team of over eighty clowns who work in sixteen hospitals across the country. The clowns work in pairs and visit children in all areas of the hospital. The program was designed to bring the unique service of laughter and levity to young people undergoing treatment in paediatric hospitals. As an actress/singer/dancer I thought: “What? A clown?”, but I went anyway. In the audition I wowed the room full of other hopeful clowns and clown judges – at least that’s what I thought – but some other girl did an amazing clown routine and she got the spot. I got the coveted spot of “clown in waiting”. I immediately got THE phone call … four years later. “Denise, the other girl left the team – you are in.” I jumped up and down with excitement. Finally the fulfilling job that I’d been praying for. The job that would give me purpose was here. Here, HERE! The excitement lasted for about five minutes and then I immediately froze with fear. This actress/singer/dancer knew nothing about clowning.
So I started working as a clown – sort of.