Thursday, 16 July 2009

NOT PJ: Comics in the Clinics

A funny thing happened on the way to the hospital, explains Bernard Darnton…

_BernardDarnton We may have a die-while-you-wait health system but at least now in Canterbury you’ll die laughing. A “clown doctor” program begins at Christchurch Hospital in September.

I assume in these recession-bitten times that it’s cheaper than using normal doctors. Clown camp goes for six days and costs $475 whereas medical school goes on forever and costs an ulna and a tibia. If laughter truly is the best medicine we could expand the programme across the country and transfer all our hospitals’ assets into Clown Health Enterprises.

The Press reports that, “Clown doctors already operate in clown-care programmes worldwide.” I assume that’s “operate” in the general sense of “perform some kind of activity” rather than the more hospital-specific “cut people open and do intricate things to their internal organs.” The last thing you need when you’ve got a burst appendix is for the surgeon to turn your intestines into a balloon giraffe.

What are the clowns up to? (It’s a question we often ask here.) If they’re not performing facelifts to give people permanent smiles, what specialist medical care are these clowns providing?

The Press quotes Dr Thomas Petschner, who introduced the clowns to New Zealand, saying that the clowns’ aim was “to increase the wellbeing of the patients and to restore the healthy powers in the sick person.” Dr Petschner is also pioneering the use of clown translators.

When they’re not restoring the healthy powers, part of the clowns’ job is to “demystify painful or frightening procedures.” Maybe we should also get clown tax collectors. At the very least they’d be able to communicate easily with the clown accountants who run New Zealand’s finance companies.

Clipboard01 If the clown doctor programme is successful I expect comedy-related treatment across the entire medical profession. Michèle A’Court would make a good anaesthetist. If I catch swine flu I demand a consultation with Mike King; I know I’ll be treated humanely before being slaughtered and sliced up for bacon. The whole thing could be topped off by appointing a clown as Minister of Health. This last idea may not be original.

Other industries could be transformed as well. The Greens could go one better than their “four wheels bad, two wheels good” policy and demand the transfer of all of New Zealand’s freight onto unicycles. Even accounting for the enormous shoes the industry’s footprint would become miniscule.

For the time being, the clown doctor programme is limited to entertaining sick children but the possibilities for putting clowns in charge of all parts of public life are endless. The results might not be any better than we get now but at least we’d know what we were in for.

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *


  1. Bernard you are a true wordsmith. LMAO at intestine animal balloons. You should pen some inspirational speeches for Libz! Seriously!

  2. "LMAO at intestine animal balloons."

    Me, too. :)

  3. Some "entertaining".

  4. I think that John Key is already shown that he himself is a clown Prime Minister.


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