“Use Laughter for Good”: How Healthy Humor is Changing Lives


Laughter is a universal language that has the power to bring people together, heal emotional wounds, and provide a sense of joy and comfort even in the darkest of times. This is precisely the philosophy behind the work of Healthy Humor, an organization that aims to uplift emotional and mental health within the physical healing process.

Healthy Humor was founded by three dynamic women with over 60 years of experience: Dina Paul-Parks (CEO), Karen McCarty (Artistic Director), and Deborah Kaufmann (Director of Training and Education). The organization’s core focus is to bring happiness and comfort to sick children, and they do this through their much-loved ‘Red Nose Docs’ program.

What are these Red Nose Docs?

The Red Nose Docs are professional performers, including actors, musicians, magicians, and more, who are specifically trained to work in a hospital environment. With the full support of medical and administrative staff at each partner hospital, these docs conduct their own version of medical rounds, known as “Clown Rounds.” They bring brief moments of laughter to children facing hardship through various tricks and games.

Image Credits: Healthy Humour

According to Healthy Humor, “These ‘Red Nose Docs’ are considered a break from a life of hardship, giving kids brief moments of laughter through tricks and games to escape from all the negativity they face. ‘We believe in the power of humor to break down walls and reveal the essential connectedness that all human beings – across our differences – share.’”

A Dose of Laughter for Everyone

The organization’s mission goes beyond just helping children. They say, “We hope for a world transformed by humor, joy, and the power of human connection – a world less burdened by pain and fear.”

Fun Fact: Kids laugh 300 times a day while adults (17.5/day) just don’t get the joke!

For Seniors – Vaudeville Visits

Vaudeville Visits are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for seniors living in care facilities and elders in critical care. By recreating beloved characters from the stage and screen, performers create moments of joy and entertainment for this often vulnerable population. With over 35% of seniors in residential care suffering from depression, these Visits are a superb way to improve mental health and wellbeing.

For adults – Connection Workshops

Healthy Humor offers workshops for healthcare providers, educators, administrators, and technical staff in many professions. Their goal is to inspire professionals to bring their own humanity and a sense of joy and play into their work, improving communication, teamwork, commitment, and preventing burnout.

For example, the skills of a successful Healthcare clown include:

  • Rapidly read audiences and assess environments
  • Respond to subtle physical and emotional cues
  • Create genuine contact
  • Pay attention
  • Give patients, family, and staff the feeling that they “belong” to them—in short, to be totally present

The goal of these workshops is not to turn participants into clowns or teach them tricks, but rather to impart the techniques and approaches of Healthy Humor that can be applied to the daily work of both clinical and administrative professionals.

For adolescents – Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Residency Program

Healthy Humor has a remarkable history of supporting the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp located in Ashford, CT. The camp, which was founded by the legendary actor and philanthropist Paul Newman (1925-2008), is dedicated to serving the needs of children suffering from chronic illnesses. As part of its commitment to the well-being of these kids and adolescents, the organization provides talented artists-in-residence to the camp every summer.

When you have a good laugh, it’s like a massage for your muscles – it helps relieve stress and tension! In fact, laughing stimulates circulation and the effects can last up to 45 minutes. So go ahead and have a good chuckle, your body will thank you for it!

To learn more about Healthy Humor and donate to their cause to “use laughter for good,” click here.

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