World Laughter Day on 5 May 2013

- New RED NOSES study of the effect of clown visits
- Clowndoctors give laughter at the Westbahnhof in Vienna (Video:

Just in time for World Laughter Day, there is every reason for joy among the RED NOSES Clowndoctors: in a joint empirical study with the University of Zurich it could be proved for the first time that visits by the RED NOSES Clowndoctors can elicit a large number of positive emotional reactions among patients. This tremendous result and the forthcoming World Laughter Day gave cause for 25 Clowndoctors to go to the Vienna Westbahnhof. What did they do there? That which they can do best: make a crowd of people laugh!

May 5 is World Laughter Day – a day that has been celebrated for more than ten years and a day that is meant to bring awareness of the importance of laughter and the power of humour. The effect that laughter can have on sick people has been closely examined by the Department of Psychology at Zurich University and by RED NOSES.

Laughter is healthy?!

Laughter has a positive effect on the body and mind, can release tension, reduce stress and anxiety and strengthen the immune system. It is something often experienced by the RED NOSES clowns in their daily work with sick people and these effects are confirmed by medical personnel and nursing teams. Now there is also scientific proof of the positive effect of RED NOSES clown visits: a joint study* by the chair of Personality and Assessment at Zurich University and RED NOSES Clowndoctors brings interesting insights about clown work in hospital.

Study confirms: clowns release positive feelings

In January 2013 clown visits were investigated in a controlled experiment at the Bad Häring Rehabilitation Centre in Tyrol. First results show that clown visits in fact do elicit a specific positive emotional state among patients and observers of the situation, which cannot be attributed to a different kind of attention. The clowns have evoked a great number of positive feelings and action tendencies – such as exhilaration or feeling touched – among the patients,” says Sarah Auerbach from the chair of Personality and Assessment at Zurich University.

Positive feelings strengthen and can – as is acknowledged – also have a beneficial effect on health – not without reason we say “laughter is the best medicine”. Clowndoctors cannot replace a therapy and the work of nursing staff. But they are capable – as the study has demonstrated – of generating a number of positive emotions, which differ from those elicited by nursing staff! They make people laugh, guarantee fun and entertainment and thus give the patients a feeling of appreciation and strength.

RED NOSES on a special mission – Clowndoctors at the Vienna

Westbahnhof On the occasion of the forthcoming World Laughter Day the RED NOSES clowns have thought of something very special. This time one needs not go into hospital to be able to experience a clown visit! Also in everyday places people must occasionally be reminded of laughter. There are usually two clowns who come on a hospital visit, but this time it was 25 clowns who turned up in a flash mob at the Vienna Westbahnhof. The aim: to infect as many people as possible with the power of humour and laughter. With success! A few minutes before the clowns arrived the passage between the two underground lines was, as always, hectic with busy and hasty activity. But then the clowns flowed in from all sides – the people paused and allowed themselves to be carried away, everyone danced and laughed together – with red noses, what else!

The flash mob can be seen at:

Boundless laughter!

For 19 years the RED NOSES Clowndoctors have pursued their aim with their humour to strengthen people and give them special encounters and happy moments in their daily work with sick children, senior citizens, rehabilitation patients and handicapped people. And also beyond borders on World Laughter Day the RED NOSES will bring laughter to many people: because there are currently 315 RED NOSES clowns engaged in their mission in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and New Zealand to create laughter and pass on the joy of life to sick people!

Poland and Lithuania are new in the RED NOSES family since 2013. Thus the RED NOSES are already active in 11 countries worldwide. “We experience every day how much effect humour and clowns can have, not only in hospital. Laughter knows no borders and is a language that everyone can speak and understand. We will continue to bring this language out into the world and bring the power of humour to all of those people who need it”, explains Monica Culen, founder and director of the RED NOSES Group.

* Auerbach, S., Ruch, W., & Fehling, A. (2013). Does a hospital clown elicit different emotional experiences in patients and observers than a nurse? An experimental approach in a clinical setting. Manuscript in preparation.


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