The Humour Foundation – where laughter helps the best medicine

Over the past few months you may have read about our fundraising in the UK for BBC Children in Need. We’ve travelled to places like Edinburgh, London and Cardiff (and everywhere in between) spreading the giving vibes as we go – and this year we collected over £20,000 (read more about it here). Now we’re moving on to Australia .

Feeling the warm and fuzzies, we got a stroke of genius: “Why don’t we take this spirit of giving to Australia?!” So from February 2018, The Humour Foundation will become the official charity for Faulty Towers The Dining Experience (FTTDE) in Australia, which means that Basils, Sybils and Manuels will be fundraising at various venues during our tours of the great Aussie landscape (and we’re excited)!

What does it do?

Did you ever see that Robin Williams film, Patch Adams? The Humour Foundation is the real-life version of this film! It supplies Clown Doctors to hospitals all across Australia. Clown Doctors are professional performers who use their skills to help children  during their time in hospital. They help to distract them from their pain, break up the monotony of being stuck in a hospital room, escort them into scary procedures, and help relieve the stress of family members and hospital staff. It also supplies Elder Clowns, who visit residents with dementia in aged care facilities. So it’s just the kind of charity we can get behind!

Founded in 1997 – the same year as Faulty and ITI – The Humour Foundation has been bringing clowning and performance to those who need it most for over 20 years. Their Clown Doctors specialise in using hospital jargon to reduce trauma and fear around procedures the patients must undergo. Over-sized medical equipment, ‘red-nose’ transplants, ‘cat’ scans, humour checks, and funny bone examinations are all included in the play!

Clowning for medical gain is supported scientifically. International research has demonstrated the benefits of laughter to physiological and psychological health. Studies have even concluded that laughter can lower blood pressure, improve circulation and enhance the immune system.

The Foundation is also heading funding for a ground-breaking PhD investigation into the impact of the Clown Doctors programme in hospital. You can read about all of this and more on The Humour Foundation’s About Us page.

FTTDE even has a Clown Doctor working among us: Andy Foreman – our original Manuel 20 years ago – has been working as Dr 2 Shoes for seven years! He happily gave us an example of how important the Clown Doctors are to the young patients they work with:
“It can only be a good thing if we can distract children in the burns ward, for instance, so they don’t need to be given drugs, and to ensure they are given a positive memory to take home. Of course, this also means less stress for everyone when they return for other follow up procedures. The Humour Foundation does tremendous work and it’s a privilege to be part of their organisation.”

Andy’s first love has always been improvisational theatre, which lends itself perfectly to the work as a Clown Doctor. He created and is a performer in Poetry Tennis, has been writing professional shows since 1982, and is the Artistic Director of Out On A Limb, staging many improv shows with his company. Andy first started working with The Humour Foundation in 2010 and works primarily at the new Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, using his improv skills to come to the aid of children who are sad or scared on a regular basis.

So… what’s the plan?

To help support all the great work The Humour Foundation does, performers from Faulty Towers The Dining Experience will be getting out collection buckets after each of the show’s performances at Fringe World Perth, Adelaide Fringe Festival, and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, as well as some of our regular venues joining us again in 2018.

The show’s Artistic Director, Alison Pollard-Mansergh, spoke about why we wanted to start collecting for The Humour Foundation:
“Having worked for so many years with the BBC Children in Need charity, we wanted to do something in Australia as well. The Humour Foundation is one that really appeals, as it is using specially trained improvisors – Clown Doctors – to work with sick children. One of our original performers, Andy Foreman, is also a Clown Doctor, as well as others who have worked with the company over the years. We believe absolutely that laughter is great medicine, so it’s a really good fit and a really good cause.”

For all the latest news of this fabulous charity, follow them on facebook and twitter.

The Clown Doctors’ joke of the week as at 11 December:

What do you call an acid with a bad attitude? A-mean-oh-acid!

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