Ever since the Big Apple Clown Care Unit started up at Boston Children’s, we have prided ourselves on our exhaustive Research and Development program. One of the items that underwent close scrutiny is known familiarly to most of you as the “whoopee cushion.”
Hospital management wanted me to take them away from the clowns, but I pleaded with them, saying, “That would be like taking the color red off an artist’s palette. ”
A whoopee cushion is a critical tool (combined with facial expressions and physical movement) that is understood in any language. Kids love it because it’s bathroom humor, but this was a problem in the hospital. Maybe some young patients were hospitalized for malfunctioning excretory functions! Toilet humor is not a road to travel in the hospital for sooooo many reasons. ( Do not follow the yellow drip road.) It also encourages “potty mouth” among the siblings and adolescents.
Do you realize in less than a decade, we have seen the whoopee cushion go from a cheap rubber bladder, to a chemical gel, to a fat rubber hose with two hard plastic ends, to a remote-controlled electronic device, to a self inflating cheap rubber bladder? Who got the grants for that technology?
Due to hygiene and latex allergies, the electronic device is my instrument of choice in a hospital setting.
I have found it interesting and challenging to use it as a silly little sound and incorporate its use in musical numbers or in hearing tests along with squeakers.
I like is to let my clown partner hide the main console of an electronic fart machine in one of their pockets, while I control the remote. Things just slip out as they do and the kids crack up as we try to maintain some kind of composure and dignity!
Funny what kind of sound those elevator or vending-machine buttons can make when you least expect it…