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Medical Clown Project
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Photo by Lenny Gonzalez

The Medical Clown Project offers therapeutic medical clowning to patients of all ages, their families, and their caregivers. Using play and humor, medical clowns help people in hospitals and other healthcare settings reduce fear and anxiety while increasing their strength and motivation to cope with illness. They connect with patients in a way that is markedly different from the rest of their experience in the hospital by combining the art of clowning with expressive therapy modalities such as magic, music, improvisation, and puppetry.

“Our medical team and staff were extremely positive about the impact of the work of the medical clowns,” Michelle M. Fouts, director of pharmacy at Laguna Honda Hospital, said. “They were amazed and delighted to report that some residents (living with dementia) who had been isolated and non communicative were ‘lighting up and talking’ for the first time in months.”

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area with sister organizations around the world—many of them inspired by the original Clown Care Unit and its founder Michael Christensen—these clowns work in patient rooms, intensive care units, emergency departments, as well as in hallways, waiting rooms, and elevators. They have five or more years of professional clowning experience and receive specific training in therapeutic medical clowning.

Jeff Raz, artistic director of the Medical Clown Project, served as “captain” of the Clown Alley area at the 2017 Folklife Festival. Raz has been an educator, playwright, director, and performer for more than thirty-five years. He has performed with Cirque du Soleil and Pickle Family Circus, and founded the Clown Conservatory in 2000. At the Festival, he offered readings and signings of his new book, The Secret Life of Clowns.

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