20 October, 2020

Meet Dr Laff-A-Lot! How Medical Clowns Are Providing A Healing Touch With A Smile

Medical clowns are using magic and story-telling techniques to reduce pain and stress of hospitalisation

Clowning Glory
Rehana Quazi and Sheetal Agarwal at Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, Delhi
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
Meet Dr Laff-A-Lot! How Medical Clowns Are Providing A Healing Touch With A Smile

Contrary to the image of hospitals as sterile dens of despair, the paediatric ward at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai has an air of unbridled cheer. Dr Laff-a-lot sports a red bulbuous nose, yellow wig and waistcoat dotted with smileys. His vibrant outfit stands out amidst the muted colours of the ward. The moment he entered, children broke into laughter and began clapping. “Dr Laff-a-lot is here,” together they yelled, excitedly.

Dr Laff-a-lot, Pravin Tulpule’s alias, is a 58-year-old medical clown in Mumbai. He uses storytelling, magic and clowning techniques to help reduce pain and the stress of hospitalisation, and help people cope with their condition. Although clown doctors cannot cure diseases, they provide emotional succour. Most hospitals focus on the physical health of patients and tend to ­neglect mental health. Medical clowning fills this void. One of the most ­celebrated clown...



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