NEAR WEST SIDE — Making patients smile is no laughing matter during the first Therapeutic Humor Week at Rush University Medical Center.
“We want people to take away that it’s cute, but serious,” said Robyn Hart, director of Rush’s Child Life Services. “Our hope is that this will help promote the use of humor both with patients and with each other.”
The humor week, which began Monday and runs through Friday, was started to bring awareness to research that shows humor can have psychological and physical effects on patients.
In addition to magicians, improvised theater and even a “laughter yoga class,” students from several Chicago public grade schools wrote jokes that will be placed on patients’ meal trays for a day.
The jokes, which will be in the students’ handwriting, include:
• Why don’t they play poker in the jungle? — Too many cheetahs.
• What did the laundry man say to the impatient customer? — Keep your shirt on.
• Why did the coach go to the bank? — He needed another third quarter.
• What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? — Nacho cheese.
Hart, who has also co-authored a book that advises children and teens on coping with health issues, said humor is one way that both adults and kids deal with the stress of illness.
At Halloween, Hart said she’s seen children with cancer incorporate their baldness into their costumes by dressing as Charlie Brown or a punk rocker with a Mohawk.
“They used humor as a coping strategy. They have to. This is their day-to-day experience. If you don’t find a way to cope with it and relieve the pressure, the burnout rate is incredible,” Hart said.