Sam Cohen

Why did you choose to participate in Lev Letyzan?

I wanted to use my free time doing something positive. I was fascinated by the whole idea of becoming a Therapeutic Clown and performing an amazing chesed. I saw joining Lev Leytzan as a unique opportunity to bring happiness & laughter to others, but I also felt that the work and effort I put into this mission would have a positive effect on me as well.

Did you feel nervous or uncertain with this new challenge?

I mainly felt nervous for two reasons. First, I began to think, “What am I going to tell my friends? How do I explain what Therapeutic Clowning is all about? Would they think it’s weird?” I was also nervous about the training. I would think, “Am I cut out for this?” Looking back, I know now there really was no reason for these feelings. People admire others that are comfortable in their own skin and follow their hearts. Clowning is a great testing ground to figure out who you want to be, and a great practice field for getting comfortable being it. Regarding the nervousness towards the training, it was totally fine once classes started. There is a great atmosphere among the students and we all grow and develop our skills together.

What characteristics would you say are essential in the development of a Therapeutic Clown?

Confidence. It is essential for all clowns to have confidence in two areas. One is the confidence generated from your preparation & training. The other is the confidence in the chesed mission that you are trying to accomplish.

As a Clown Student, you are learning and training alongside other guys as a group. How has being a part of a team affected your own personal clown development?

There is an interesting dynamic in training as part of a group. Clowning is a form of personal expression, which is why our training emphasizes personal development and discovery. As time goes on and after learning, training and growing together, the students in the group share a certain sense of comfort and understanding. This trust in your fellow clowns gives you the confidence to leave your comfort zone and do things you never thought you had in you.

Do you have a “Go To” trick, routine or prop that you utilize often when interacting with patients?

As a clown, we all know there will be times when all attempts at engaging a patient fall flat. Instead of laughter, there is silence. I have learned that when all else fails, improvise! Everything & everyone can be a prop or an accessory to the fun and games. Often, the patients will pick up on the spontaneity and creativity resulting in lots of laughs and interaction. Always remember, improv is a clown’s best friend!

Speaking of “Big Laughs” do you have a specific Funniest Clowning Moment?

One story that makes me laugh just thinking about it took place on our Israel Mission Trip. Our group had just finished visiting patients at a hospital, and several clowns and I were waiting around outside by the parking lot. There were lots of cars coming in and out of the lot. If you’ve ever been to Israel, you know that drivers are way more aggressive and a lot less patient than drivers in the U.S. We were looking on in amazement when a fellow clown decided he was going to direct traffic! He - dressed head to toe in clown attire - jumped right in and began pointing and directing the cars. What is amazing is that the drivers listened! Their faces were priceless. Imagine what was going through their minds watching a clown working as a traffic official! We were all rolling from laughter watching this unfold.

What has been your most gratifying & rewarding Clowning Moment?

One time while doing rounds at a hospital, we spent some time with a patient and family. We were all having a great time and the room was filled with laughter as we played music on our instruments. As I watched the mother looking on at her smiling child, I noticed her expression slowly shifted from happy and cheerful to being on the verge of tears. I couldn’t possibly know what she and her family were going through, but I knew that what we were doing was something that was impacting her family’s lives in a positive way.

What have you learned about yourself or others as part of the Lev Leytzan team?

Clowning with Lev Leytzan has opened my eyes to what other people are going through. Often it’s very clear from the outside that a person is suffering, but there are times when a person is fine on the outside, but experiencing tremendous emotional or physical pain on the inside. It’s easy to make assumptions and conclusions about other people, but I now understand that we must try to take a step back and consider the important parts of the picture we are missing of an individual’s current situation.

Is there anything specific you would like to share with those considering becoming part of Lev Leytzan?

There is no other experience like it! Being nervous is completely normal; just know that your training will bring along greater confidence in your abilities and what you are really capable of.



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