Yes, medical clowning is an actual job.
A medical clown is a proper clown (red nose, huge shoes ‐ the works) who has received special training somewhat similar to nursing and works in a hospital.
The basic idea is simple – to make the experience of being in a hospital less traumatic for everyone – patients, both kids and adults, their loved ones, and also the medical staff. Balloons and bubbles are of course innate to the job but there many more layers to this seemingly simple play.
He is a fool. His judgment is poor by definition, so he just doesn’t judge at all. He walks in open to make a very simple, but truthful, personal connection.
He lives in the moment, free from the regrets of the past and the fears of the future. He absorbs the moment and turns it into his art.
He has nothing to prove because he’s a fool already. An idiot, he doesn’t disobey the rules ‐ he just doesn't know them. He challenges the order without being defiant about it, but by the mere fact of his playful being.
Most of the stories about Israel that get to the mainstream are of the typical Middle East variety. You know, the bombs, the wars... we knew that once you say “Israel” or “Palestine”, anything you say after is political. But we didn’t want that. We wanted a story that wouldn’t avoid the reality, but wouldn’t pretend that it knew how to fix it.
We thought of... Israeli hospitals.
Hospitals here have taken on an unexpected additional role – they’ve become places of peace that bring people together – even if often for sad reasons. Everybody is equal, leveled by the fear and suffering.
And then we ran into our first characters – the medical clowns at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
It may sound bizarre, but it turns out that Israel has developed one of the most vibrant medical clowning communities in the world. Medical clown – quite an occupation for the time and place. Talk about challenging normality. But the clown, the jester, the trickster has always been there for us to turn the world upside down and disprove our assumptions.
And so, we started following them around.