This story is from Emily Slazer, New Orleans Program Director. If you see her name listed in a comedy show around town, I recommend you go! Don’t hesitate, her amazing spirit mixed with a keen sense of humor is a great escape for adults too. The kids in New Orleans are always in for a treat when Emily visits and here’s a motivating story of why she’s dedicated to Funny Bones Improv’s mission. That’s Emily in the photo above with Funny Bones Improv founder, Jolene Fehler.
I’ve been a Funny Bones performer for four years, and it’s given me the opportunity to witness many special moments between the players and the patients. This year, I had an experience that I will always remember as a distillation of the impact that a Funny Bones show can have on hospitalized children and their caretakers. After doing a show for a group of children in the hospital playroom one night, the performers were asked to visit Dre in his room. He had been placed in isolation and couldn’t be around other kids. He was a thirteen year old boy who had been stuck in his hospital room for days, and his spirits were low when we arrived to do our show. For the first few games, he was quiet and reserved while his mom laughed, made show suggestions, and took pictures. When he spun our wheel of games and it landed on Freeze, everything changed. Freeze is a game in which two players improvise a scene that can be interrupted at any time by the command to “Freeze!” from another player. That player then taps in and starts an entirely new scene. In the middle of the game, Dre shouted “Freeze!”, taking the position of a player who had their arms upstretched. We all waited to see what Dre would do after being so quiet. He initiated the next scene by bursting into the theme from The Lion King, singing with gusto. We all exploded with applause and laughter, and his mom caught the whole thing on camera. When we left Dre’s room, the nurse told us that she hadn’t heard him speak at all that day before our show. Watching that patient escape his surroundings for a few minutes for an imaginary Savanna was such a meaningful way to see the impact improvisation and entertainment can have on sick children. Funny Bones Improv is such an important part of my life, and I’m so honored to work with the amazing volunteers who bring moments like these to families in hospitals around New Orleans and Chicago. Please support our work to provide more moments of escape for kids who need it the most.
If you’d like to see the video Dre’s mom shared with us…click here.