Composed of superhuman circus performers from around the globe, Emergency Circus administers inspirational circus shows and workshops to  the hospitalized, the homeless, the imprisoned, and the undercircussed everywhere. This non-profit division of Dr. Patch Adams’ Gesundheit Institute seeks to inspire, entertain, and enliven humanity. Through spectacle and performance the Emergency Circus demonstrates the power of the human spirit to achieve seemingly impossible skills through dedication and persistence.






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“We believe in the healing power of laughter and empathy to elevate endorphins, relieve stress, build community, and diminish pain.”

-Emergency Circus Founder, Clay Mazing



Emergency Circus on Refugee Road Ep. 1: Clowning Between Drowning and Hope

I snap out of hectic dreams filled with the images of last night. People running for doctors in broken accents of every language. The old grandmother limping down the stairs. The man with feet like an elephant’s. The tear-smeared cheeks of the tall man wrapped in wool. The agony of his voice. Emergency blankets drifting down cobblestones into the sea. Wet piles of clothes. Huddled mothers. Crackers. Soup. Cigarettes. The first crack of that little girl’s smile. It’s 5:23 a.m. The moon casts the slanted shape of a window on my bed. Molly breathes dreaming on the other side of the room. In an hour and a half we’ll wake up and gather our noses. ************ After 9 time zones of upright and locked positions, coffee, rain delays, in-flight meals, coffee, moving sidewalks, trams, buses and coffee, four Clowns Without Borders meet in Athens International. Molly, our logistician, spots me first and after a grand squeezing reunion leads me to the others at the front of the baggage check in line. None of us really know how many hours we’ve been traveling except maybe Sabine who has traveled one time zone from Lebanon. My grin pinches my own cheeks when I see her. We met one year ago in Lebanon clowning kids away from land mines. Her vibrancy and presence make her seem a lot taller than she actually is. I meet Luz’s hug for the first time. Her warm and inviting nature instantly link us like family.  We fill the little plane with laughter on our way to the tiny Greek island of Lesvos, just off the coast of Turkey. Thousands... read more

Bring The Emergency Circus Back To Refugee Road

Thousands of refugees have been forced by circumstance to leave their homes in war torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq in search of a better life in Western Europe. Last November the Emergency Circus traveled 3,500 miles through 8 countries traveling alongside these refugees performing in stations, refugee camps, buses, trains and squares. We brought music, laughter, and empathy to countless masses in dire situations. The project was so well received and so desperately needed that we’ve decided we must return, this time beginning at the Syrian border and sharing the entire journey with the refugees, not only to relieve stress and deliver joy through circus along the way, but also to understand and document the struggle of these humans during this massive migration. In order to do so we need your support. In order to pay for travel, lodging, and food we have budgeted a conservative cost of 6,000. Please consider sharing this post and making a donation to the Emergency Circus right here Every person who donates any amount will receive updates as we document the situation through the eyes of a circus through writing, video, and photography. These are sweet, kind, middle class families who are risking their lives daily to escape extremely difficult situations they’ve been dealt. Often their children, mothers, or fathers die along the way. They aren’t always treated with kindness and the stress of loosing family members, jobs, and their homes can be extremely draining to their mental state. It is so heart warming and hopeful to see what a simple smile can do for their ability to continue on with hope. History is... read more

Dissolving Clown Hearts on Christmoween

“She was a Christian and they tried to kill her but there was a rock that got split in half and some shepherds disguised her or something like that,” Says Sabine, “But I’m the worst person to ask about these things.” Halloween Christmas is today in Lebanon. It’s really called Barbara but it’s pronounced Bar Bara in Arabic. The holiday is for St. Barbara (obviously named after the quaint town of Santa Barbara), the patron saint of firemen,prisoners, and like 8 others. It’s exactly like Halloween except that it is very close to Christmas. Children go trick or treating door to door dressed as ghosts and princesses to collect candy in Santa hats. Our falafel and sodas are placed on the table. I’m making faces at the little girl at the table next to us. She laughs coyly in Arabic as my hat drifts across my face changing my expression from happy to sad to surprised etc. A man walks by our table in a clown mask for Bar-bara. “That’s why people think they are afraid of clowns,” we agree. We also note that people aren’t really afraid of clowns but horrible clown makeup and masks. We don’t even wear noses in our Clowns Without Borders show. It’s hip to be afraid of clowns these days. But the kids of Lebanon don’t know this. In many places they have never seen anything like this before. They don’t know how to react. For instance, Jan (pronounced Yon) has this killer diabolo routine (that’s this strange circus apparatus I don’t feel like explaining right now) that he often gets paid about 1,000 bucks for in real life. When... read more

Unexpecting the Expected

It’s 5 am in Beirut, Lebanon. The birds outside sound like slide whistles while my jetlagging mind is racing. After 40 hours of planes and airports, of which I probably spent 6 hours sleeping between the hard carpet of Washington D.C. airport and upright in a stiff seat intermittently interrupted by Germans pouring red wine, I arrived in Lebanon, ready to extinguish all kinds of stigmas my narrow United States of American upbringing has given me. I know by now expectations are always illusory but also that one never knows which unexpectations to expect. Just a few weeks ago Clowns Without Borders contacted me out of the blue asking if I was available to drop my life and travel halfway across the globe to a war torn country to work for free donning a red nose and huge pants in order to be laughed at in a different language just a bird’s view away from active heavy conflict. Of course I jumped at the chance. Jan Damm and I shared a flight from Frankfurt to Beirut. He is pronounced Yon Dom and that’s pretty much his real name. It’s more his real name than his name actually as he has changed his last name back to the name of his great great grandfathers. He’s the only other clown in this mission of four I had previously met, and then only barely. He’s a hardworking professional circus entertainer carving out a real living by balancing on buckets stacked on boards stacked on rolling cardboard tubes while tossing oddly shaped pieces of plastic in the air using a string between 2 sticks.... read more