“A clown is like aspirin, only he works twice as fast.” --Groucho Marx
Groucho had it right! Want a second opinion, though, perhaps from someone with some medical knowledge? How about the late English 17th century physician Thomas Sydenham, who said “The arrival of a good clown exercises a more beneficial influence upon the health of a town than of twenty asses laden with drugs.” Now, admittedly times have changed a bit, as these days you can’t get away with calling the drug reps “asses.” Not if you want to keep receiving box lunches and free pens!
From asses to aspirin and dust to dust, both the comic and the good doctor were ahead of their time. These days, medical clowns are becoming mainstream, spreading joy and facilitating healing worldwide. There’s a law in Buenos Aires that all public hospitals have clowns available on staff to help cheer up pediatric patients. A university in Germany offers a degree in medical clowning (because when you think “zany,” you think “Germans!”) In Israel the renowned clowns of Hadassah Medical Center provide inpatient services and respond to international crises around the world with other Hadassah health providers. In the U.S., both Clowns Without Borders and Clown Care (the outreach program of the Big Apple Circus) see patients.
And the patients aren’t just kids. At the other end of the life cycle spectrum, nursing home residents with dementia exhibited reduced agitation, aggression and depression following weekly clown visits and humor therapy, according to an Australian study. And somewhere in between on the life cycle spectrum—get this!—women undergoing in vitro fertilization had a higher pregnancy success rate if right after implantation they were entertained by a clown! Yes, someone actually did that study! And the craziest part is that 77% of the children that were born went on to join the circus! They had enormous feet! And big red noses!
Why limit it to IVF? I think clowns should entertain couples who conceive in the conventional manner, too! They could just pop out from under the bed and put on a show! You can probably fit 50 of them under there, just like in that Volkswagen trick they do! Maybe the best solution for fertility issues is to procreate with a clown?! (Note from editor (a.k.a. wife): I’ve been doing that for years. We have three kids.)
So, on April Fool’s Day, don a pair of Groucho glasses! Or put on your Patch Adams clown nose! And as we continue with this election season clown show, remember the immortal words of Charlie Chaplin who said, “I remain just one thing, and one thing only – and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.”
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The Healthy Humorist®—Brad Nieder, MD—is a doctor, funny speaker and clean comedian who believes laughter is the best medicine ... unless you have giggle bladder incontinence. Dr. Brad dispenses healthcare humor with wellness advice and an uplifting message to audiences across the country. (www.healthyhumorist.com, (303) 364-9061, www.facebook.com/healthyhumorist, @HealthyHumorist)