Healthy Humor Builds Trust and Brings Joy to Hospitals and Beyond

If you haven’t heard of Healthy Humor, it’s about time you did. Healthy Humor is a non-profit organization that uses hospital clowning to bring laughter and joy to hospitalized children and their families.

If you haven’t heard of Healthy Humor, it’s about time you did. Healthy Humor is a non-profit organization that uses hospital clowning to bring laughter and joy to hospitalized children and their families. Founded in 2016 by Dina Paul-Parks, Karen McCarty, and Deborah Kaufmann, Healthy Humor has served over 600,000 children and families nationwide, and their journey to help those in need is stronger than ever.

Healthy Humor is present in hospitals nationwide, including Johns Hopkins, Children’s National, and Yale New Haven Health.

Although the New York City-based organization started in 2016, it was born about 40 years ago out of the Big Apple Circus when a co-founder realized “healthcare clowning” was an unfulfilled necessity.  Each of the founders has previously worked for the Big Apple Circus, and their exceptional skills have built what Healthy Humor is known as today.

Now Healthy Humor has built a strong program called The Red Nose Docs of Healthy Humor. Now, they don’t do circus tricks amid a child’s hospital treatment, but they take on a bit of a Patch Adams persona. Performers audition, receive training, and then work locally, serving members of their own communities.

The Red Nose Docs consist of clowns, magicians, theatre professionals, and music artists, and they use their skills to create a fun and engaging environment for hospitalized children so that, for a moment, they can be distracted from the disparaging aspects of the hospital life, as well as the parents who stand by their side through it.

The positive reactions from parents and children have even brought the founders and leaders of Healthy Humor to tears. They genuinely believe in what they are doing, and being able to see how meaningful their work is, pushes them to continue and bring their services to hospitals nationwide.

Healthy Humor CEO Dina Paul-Parks says, “Their primary purpose in this role is to serve those who are hurting, not to ‘perform.’ They are trained to meet people where they are and transform that moment of trauma or suffering into one of lightness, joy, hope, and resilience.”

It might sound silly, but some tasteful silliness is more than necessary in environments as serious as hospitals. The performers’ wacky names, like Dr. Waffles and Dr. MooChacha, can make anyone laugh. Even Deborah Kaufmann has her own clown persona as “Dr.Dribble.”

Apart from the flagship program of Red Nose Docs, Healthy Humor offers many programs. They host Vaudeville Visits that provide entertainment for elderly patients in critical care, Connections Workshops that teach healthcare professionals how to use humor and play therapy to improve patient’s quality of care, and Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which is a summer camp experience for children with serious illnesses.

Healthy Humor also hosts special events. Earlier this year, the organization partnered with David Arquette to host a gala, The Bash at Bootsy’s, and a silent auction at his establishment, Bootsy Bellows, to recruit members and raise awareness and funds to continue their services. David Arquette even has a clown persona known as “Bozo the Clown.”

Another event they held was in their stomping ground, New York City, where they celebrated the culmination of the Community Connections pilot program. This new program is their new powerful tool that brings young people of color and police officers together to build stronger connections.

“Joy and laughter are not just transformative for the kids and families in our partner hospitals,” said HH Co-Founder and CEO Dina Paul-Parks. “They are powerful tools for crises beyond the

walls of the hospital, and we know that they can help both officers and young people to truly see each other, access empathy, build trust, and connect across the divide.”

What’s next for Healthy Humor? Well, the organization is planning several exciting events, including a summer party with a celebrity guest, A national professional development conference for performers, and they are also working on expanding their reach and impact. The organization plans to open new chapters in additional cities and launch new programs to meet the needs of more children and families.

To learn more about Healthy Humor and how you can support its work, please visit

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