“Clown Doctoring is mostly improvisation and sometimes our work is about naming the elephant in the room, saying the things that other people need to hear but are too scared to utter out loud, but always with a great deal of sensitivity. Our main priority as Clown Doctors is to be highly tuned to the needs of the sick child and their family, balanced with an ability to laugh at illness and find fun despite the terrible trauma families are going through. The child is always the star of the show.
My stand up is all based on my life experiences. Working late at night to a room full of drunk people I can get away with letting my ego off the lead and say stuff I’d never dream of talking about in front of kids. So I have a comic outlet for my dark thoughts, which is great, because it often helps me let go of the emotional trauma I’ve witnessed at the hospitals. It’s incredibly tough some days to witness families in the worst pain of their lives because their child is dying. Some days all we can do is provide gentle music, or light relief through laughter for the other kids in the family.
What I love about performing both is the chance to be right there in the moment with my audience. My work as a Clown Doctor has really helped free me up on stage, improvise and not stick to the script as a stand up comic. 20 guys on a bucks night used to intimidate me, but I don’t care if I have a bad stand up gig anymore, because nothing is worse than losing your child”.
Have your own kids watched you perform?
“Last year was the first time my eldest had seen me do stand up, and it was a bit weird because she was with a group of friends. I make fun of my life as a solo mum so of course I tell stories about her, often exaggerated for comic effect. She told me she liked it, but we don’t really talk about it much. She’s a painter, her art is very important to her, so she gets that I am a writer and I’ve chosen to express myself in this medium. I have definitely embarrassed her and her sisters, particularly with my wardrobe choices”.
“My two younger kids were in a show with me for the Sydney Fringe Festival in 2013, and they’ve all come to lots of my gigs at festivals and even the hospitals over the years. They wish I wasn’t so serious at home. They know I’m nuts but they love me anyway”.
When Lou isn’t Dr Quack for kids in hospital and hospice, she’s giving seriously funny talks on laughter therapy on behalf of The Humour Foundation, a charity dedicated to promoting and delivering the health benefits of humour.
Want to sponsor a clown like Lou? The Humour Foundation doesn’t receive any hospital or government funding but does have over 56 Clown Doctors working around Australia making a difference to about 150,000 people each year. To donate or to sponsor call 1300 HUMOUR or visit: clowndoctors.org.au
Lou is also cracking people up in her own shows on the comedy circuit and at festivals.
Go see Lou: loupollard.me