Together for a smile.

Schwarz Druck has launched a new project close to its heart: supporting the Klinik Clowns.

But who are the Klinik Clowns and what exactly do they do? Many people have asked themselves this question. That’s why Marco Castiglioni, CSO of Schwarz Druck, met with the Klinic Clown Luitpold Klassen on 28 February to take a closer look at this activity. We asked “Lupino” a few questions. The answers are very touching.



How did you become involved with the clinic clowns and what inspired you to do so?

I joined the KlinikClowns in 2007, after my clown theatre training. I completed this from 2004 to 2006 in Mainz – clown training with a focus on acting, which is completed with a state-recognised vocational school qualification. This is a learned craft that includes skills such as unicycling, stilt walking, mime, acrobatics, voice, singing and, of course, clowning in theory and practice. After moving from Mainz to Munich, I thought about how I could utilise my training. Of course, I couldn’t find any adverts in the newspaper explicitly looking for clowns. Then I heard about the KlinikClowns Bayern e.V. organisation. I applied there in 2006 and was invited to an audition that was to take place in March 2007 – I was so “clumsy” that I was accepted (grins). So I switched from classic clowning to the KlinikClowns.


What is the difference between the two clowns?

A circus clown usually performs in a circus ring. He plays funny, he plays boldly and he plays loudly. Not with his voice, but with his body language and movements, so that he can be seen, heard and, above all, laughed at from a long way back.

And when he has done his job well, he gets a huge round of applause.

A hospital clown usually plays in a children’s hospital room. In front of one child, maybe two, mum and dad who are there. He’s funny too, but rather careful, empathetic, emphatic. And if he manages to put a smile on the child’s face, or perhaps even more importantly, on the worried face of the parents, then that’s the biggest applause for a hospital clown.

There is a difference. The encounter lies in the improvisation, i.e. it’s not a rehearsed piece that you perform and then walk out again. We first look at what’s in the room. What is given to you? How are you received? You have to be able to read the faces and body language and react to them.


Can you tell us more about how the Klink Clowns have a positive impact on children’s hospitalisation?

Basically, we change the situation. On the paediatric ward of a hospital, the children experience a slightly different reality than outside. We are out and about in paediatric oncology, paediatric cardiology, in paediatric orthopaedic facilities, but also in the paediatric palliative care ward. The children there often spend a very long time in hospital, sometimes even months or years. These children have their daily routine on the ward, which usually only changes during examinations. When we turn up as hospital clowns, we bring a new, different energy with us. We become play partners, which is a very nice thing. We are also always expected by the children. The children also remember everything, for example when you promise them something specific. Unfortunately, I’ve already had to painfully experience what it’s like to forget something while the child has been waiting for it all week. The everyday life of these children is simply very different from the children outside, who can play with friends and be distracted.

In paediatric cardiology, for example, siblings under the age of 12 are not allowed to visit the intensive care units, which leads to family separations. As hospital clowns, we are play partners, listeners and sometimes even someone who can be shown the door. It has also happened that a boy who really liked us simply threw us “OUT”, even though we weren’t even in the room. We then went out into the corridor, sat down and thought about it: What have we done wrong now? A week later, the mum told us how good it had done her son to just throw us out. None of the diagnoses had worked, one piece of bad news followed the next. Doctors, nurses, cleaners and all the other professionals in the system are of course not kicked out. But we hospital clowns are actually just guests. And although he knew us, he got permission from us to kick us out. We had to learn that first. We first had to deal with that again.


What motivates you personally to do this?

I’m a very withdrawn person in my private life, which is good for me. As a clinic clown, I am very open. As a “Lupino”, I can shape encounters. I can motivate people through my actions or even change them a little. Change in the sense that I can get someone out of a slump with certain mechanisms. Simply doing the person good or giving them permission to do something. It happened to me here in Agatharied hospital that I left the clinic and a woman ran up to me and hugged me for what felt like half an hour, but was probably only 2 to 3 minutes. She started crying and at that moment I didn’t realise what was going on. After the diagnosis that her son had cancer, she simply felt the need to share this emotion with me as a hospital clown. It was a very touching moment. This woman wouldn’t have done this with just anyone. But in my hospital clown outfit, I somehow gave the woman permission to just do it. It was a beautiful moment because she opened up like that and simply gave her emotions space.


Is there a particular experience that has touched you?

There are many, but I will tell you one particular story. We had a little girl at the paediatric cardiology department in Großhadern who had known us for a long time. I’m actually always freshly shaven when I’m on my assignments. That day, I hadn’t shaved for over a week. We went in and asked if we could visit her. By the way, we always do that before we go into the room. Then the little girl said: “Lupino, you look like a cactus.” She then took me by the hand, sat me down on a little chair and went to the cupboard, where she took out a box of watercolours. Then she came back and simply painted my face green. When she’d finished, she said: “You know, Lupino, a cactus is green.” So I went from room to room with a green face for the whole mission. The great thing about the story was giving this child the confidence to do something well. Of course, I was a bit nervous about how she was going round my face with the brush. But I stayed calm and just let her do it to me. The children have to put up with so much. Examinations that aren’t always pleasant. If I had fidgeted around and shown her my insecurity, it wouldn’t have worked. Giving children the confidence to say “what you do, you do well” is so important and gives them so much.


How do you prepare for the interactions with the children?

Not really at all. Thanks to the many experiences we are fortunate enough to have in many situations – including sad ones, of course – I go into the rooms relatively unprepared. I don’t worry about what the child has. That is of secondary importance to me at that moment. Many people ask themselves: “How can you play there?” But sick children want to play too. They don’t constantly think about their situation and are often much more mature than healthy children. When I sometimes have 3, 4 or 5-year-old children in front of me and hear them talking, I often think that an adult is standing in front of me. Because of everything they have already experienced in their younger years, they have sometimes developed much faster and think differently about many things. They are simply happy when you treat them normally. We do with them what they want to do at the time of our visit, and the more I pretend to be Lupino, the nicer it is for the children. Despite my role as a hospital clown, I’m still an adult to the children and adults don’t usually make mistakes. We do. :o)

Of course, the kids always find that particularly funny.


How has your perspective on life and illness changed as a result of your work?

For one thing, living in the moment. When I give talks, I always say this so easily. But it’s also very difficult for me to realise.

I used to think that I couldn’t let the experiences get so close to me. But it’s not that easy. I have lost many people, especially many children, who have grown very close to my heart. It’s nice when you can still say goodbye, no matter how difficult it is. But you often arrive and then find out that the person has passed away and you won’t see them again. You have to come to terms with that. During my time as a hospital clown, I learnt to enjoy the time we have together.

On the other hand, I learnt from my son not to take a problem seriously until it’s there. Not to rack your brains beforehand.

Health, yes health is the greatest good. A healthy person has 1000 wishes. A sick person has only one wish: to get well. That’s such a banal sentence. But that’s exactly what it is.


What kind of reactions have you received from parents or medical staff?

The best reaction I’ve had from staff was after the lockdown. During the coronavirus period, hospital clowns were not relevant to the system and were no longer allowed in hospitals. We weren’t in hospital for a long time, but we still got in touch with cards, calendars or balloons – I’m also a balloon artist. I made balloons of nurses, carers and doctors, but also flowers and little “We’re thinking of you” cards and handed them in at reception. When we were allowed back into the hospitals and care homes, the welcome with tears and hugs was very emotional. We really felt that we had been missed. Everyday hospital life is routine for many people. But when someone comes in who is different and briefly makes someone smile… that’s just lovely.


What kind of support do the Klink Clowns need to continue their mission successfully?

Anything that gets out to the public is good for us, so that people become aware of who we are and what we do. There are many people who still don’t know us and wonder what we actually do. A lady once said in passing that a hospital clown was probably the least important thing of all… she used to think – another nice story from Großhadern. Then she came back and said: “…until the moment when my daughter came to Großhadern with a heart defect at G9. We saw you back then when you were blowing bubbles from a distance. I remember that you caught a bubble, put it in the balloon, slowly inflated it and then gave it to your colleague. The colleague then very slowly and carefully gave the balloon to me to give to my daughter. She smiled in response. At that moment, I realised how important hospital clowns are.

Some people simply don’t (yet) have this awareness because they don’t know it or have never been in such a situation. That’s why this should be publicised more. And, of course, sponsors and donors are also very important. The hospital clowns are of course paid for their work. However, this payment is not comparable to the fees that artists normally receive.

For the institutions, clinics and hospitals, the performances are usually free of charge, with a few exceptions.

There are now 75 KlinikClowns in the KlinikClowns Bayern e.V. association and the assignments take place regularly throughout Bavaria. Then, of course, there are also materials such as balloons, soap bubbles, magic articles and so on. Also further training, supervision and organisation. All in all, this naturally costs a lot of money. That’s why the KlinikClowns Bayern e.V. association relies on donations and sponsors.


Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Stay healthy. Take care of yourselves. And never lose hope.



Lupino, the greatest respect from Schwarz Druck for this great mission you have dedicated yourself to. You open hearts, touch them and manage to do the most valuable thing there is: put a smile on people’s faces. We are very grateful for the insight you have given us. We should all go through life more consciously and, above all, with gratitude and humility.

And pay the greatest respect to such special people as the clinic clowns. We very much hope that we can encourage many more people and companies to support your great work. Thank you!

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