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

Send The Emergency Circus to Tour 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. For the past week and a half I have been witness to their sorrows and joys on the shores of the Greek island of Lesvos, the first European stop in a long journey. I’ve been here working with Clowns Without Borders to bring some joy to the middle of their journey. Even as bodies wash up on the beaches from shipwrecks, we have been performing for hundreds of children and adults at every show to uproarious laughter and heartfelt thanks. Based on the severity of the situation and the overwhelmingly wonderful response we’ve been receiving everywhere, I have decided to extend my volunteer mission by organizing an “emergency” Emergency Circus tour along the path of the refugees. After Clowns Without Borders departs I’ll arrive in Athens on the 10th of November. With the help of musician, clown, and  humanitarian Moniek De Leeuw and local artists we expect to entertain 5,000 people at dozens of refugee camps, and train stations along the way spreading music, laughter, and empathy. But we need your help. In order to pay for plane tickets, a rental car, lodging, and food we have figured we’ll need only 3,300 dollars. Please consider sharing this post and making a donation to the Emergency Circus right here I realize this is quite a last minute flash fundraiser but I just can’t quit now. The stakes are too high for these folks. Every person who donates any amount... 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

Tour to the Rescue Public Shows

Most of our shows will not be seen by the public but we’ve included some fundraisers along the way to raise awareness of our mission and grow the project. Support the spreading of circus joy while experiencing the healing power of laughter for yourself in these cities (click ’em for tickets): May 25th New Orleans, LA @ The Old Firehouse 3-8pm May 29th Wilmington, NC @ TheaterNOW 7pm May 31st Asheville, NC @ Toy Boat Community Art Space 7pm June 6th Milwuakee, WI with Dead Man’s Carnival @ Miramar Theater  June 7th Kansas City, MO @Arts Bar June 12th Albuquerque, NM @TBA June 14th Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress June 17th Los Angeles, CA @ Sugar Shack... read more

Run Away With The Circus

The Emergency Circus wants you! We are currently in the midst of booking our “Tour to the Rescue” across the country This June and there are many ways you can be involved. You have the power to…  Request Community Shows. Send us to hospitals, nursing homes prisons, homeless shelters, women’s centers, boys and girls clubs, and basically anywhere a smile can be of service. If you are or know a community outreach or volunteer coordinator along or close to our route put us in contact. Or if you just want us to visit your grandmother, tell us where she is and we just might. Book Benefit Shows. We are also in search of venues to hold benefit shows to offset the costs of doing free shows in small places. If you or your loved ones own a venue that would love to help us raise some cash let us know. Join Us. We are looking for circus performers, musicians, clowns, and kind people to join our ranks when we pass through your town.  We may even have a space available for you to tag along for a leg of the tour. House and or Feed the Circus. Haven’t you always wanted 4 to 7 circus performers to sleep on the floor in your living room for a few nights while they eat all your pizza. Here’s your chance to live the dream. If you have the resources and heart to help with any of our needs don’t hesitate to email us immediately at... read more