Guest Interview with Lou Pollard
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a single mother of three beautiful daughters, a stand up comedian and writer. I work as a Clown Doctor in three hospitals and a palliative care hospice for children, and I am also a speaker on how to relieve stress with laughter for The Humour Foundation (the charity dedicated to promoting the health benefits of humour that runs the Clown Doctor program). As a comic I’ve supported Arj Barker and Austen Tayshus and performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide Fringe, Woodford Folk Festival and Sydney Comedy Festival, and performed at corporate events for 18 years. My writing has been published online and in anthologies.
Tell me more about your work as a Clown Doctor?
I’m the youngest child in my family so I’ve always acted the fool, but now I get paid to dress in pyjamas and help sick kids. Clown Doctors work in hospitals around Australia distracting and diverting very ill children with humour to help them adapt to hospital life, whether they are in Emergency, ICU or a ward. Adults benefit from Clown Doctors’ open hearts as much as children, parents frequently share their feelings with us. We laugh and sometimes cry with such beautiful families and get to know some of them well, we’re in people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable; they’re far from home and friends. Our work is not about making fun of people; we are usually the butt of the joke. Like nurses we believe there is nothing wrong with leaving our patients in stitches.
What are some of the things you value most in life?
My kids, our school community, family and dear friends, and my work, for me it’s all about connecting with people. Teaching my kids how lucky we are to live in a country with great food, weather, education and healthcare is really important to me. I try to model acts of philanthropy so they grow up knowing about giving back. I work with a charity called Our Big Kitchen to help deliver food to people in need, often families I know from the hospitals. Single parenting is exhausting but so many wonderful people have come into my life since I started working with different charities. I feel very blessed that I can give back to my community.
What is your favourite quote?
“I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” Jack London
Do you find time to nurture yourself? What does this involve?
I have to go to yoga classes every week or I go mad. I also try to fit in acupuncture at least every month. If I have an injury I go once a week. I like to see movies at an old cinema near our place and in my line of work I see a lot of live comedy and performance, which is great for unwinding after a busy week. And dancing, having a laugh and a boogie with friends is essential to my mental health and staying happy.
What are your tips for staying happy & healthy?
My eldest daughter and I make green smoothies for a quick breakfast every morning and she makes great salads for lunch. I like to start the day with something light in my stomach if I’m going to yoga. On days when I work at the hospitals I try to eat protein, so nuts, eggs or fish. I’m also one of those people who eats curry for breakfast (curry is my comfort food) so if I have a big work day ahead I’ll eat rice and eggs and vegies, which is what I had for breakfast when I lived in Japan (I usually add chilli). I walk by the sea or swim in it, particularly after I’ve had a sad day at work. I try to walk my kids to and from school twice a week to get more exercise. I love spicy food but two of my kids don’t like anything too hot so I’ll make a mild dish and add some spice for my eldest and I.
What do you indulge in?
I love champagne bubbles, dark chocolate and random acts of silliness.
What do you and your kids like to do on the weekend?
My children are social butterflies, so we catch up with school friends at parties. My two youngest like coming to my gigs with me during spring and summer as I work as a clown and stilt walker at a lot of outdoor festivals that are fun for kids. We also like to go to the beach or ride bikes or scooters. And sometimes just pottering around at home, hanging off our frangipani tree is what my kids need to unwind after a busy week.
What are some of the challenges you face as a single mum?
My house is a permanent mess! And I struggle with trying to fit all my work commitments in between school and all the activities my children want to do. I work nights and weekends so I find other working parents keep me sane by helping with car pooling or feeding each other’s kids or sleepovers. I write at night when my children are in bed so I’m often sleep deprived. And because I have to be cheery at work, my kids sometimes get cranky pants mum at home, I have to remember to save some fun for them.
Would you like to share one of your favourite healthy recipes?
Lush and Lou’s green smoothie
Combine fruit in season, we like banana, pear, mango or peach, in the blender with greens like rocket, spinach, kale and rice or oat milk. Then we add fresh herbs from our garden, my favourites are mint and parsley; then add LSA, a mix of linseed, almonds and sunflower seeds.
One large banana
Big handful of spinach (use two cubes if frozen spinach is all you have)
Handful of mint
Sprig of parsley
Sprig of rocket or coriander
One tablespoon of LSA or protein powder
1½ cups of organic rice or oat milk
My youngest doesn’t like too much of a green taste so I put in more fruit for her. Coconut milk can be used instead of rice milk. Experiment with different combinations on the weekend to find what your kids like.
You can connect with Lou here:
Like the Comedy On Tap Sydney Facebook page for information on my once a month stand up comedy night.
Some of my writing can be found in these two anthologies:
First Time Mum – mothers sharing their stories
The Sounds Of Silence – a collection of miscarriage stories