Take a Joke

40 Brunswick Square London WC1N 1AZ
20 Sep 2016 — 14 Jan 2017
  • Artists’ Projects
Patients undergoing bone marrow transplants at Great Ormond Street Hospital created medical jokes as symbols of hope.

Take a Joke playfully questioned the role of laughter and humour in a hospital environment and explored its potential for improving well-being. Taking inspiration from the traditional waiting room ‘take a number’ dispensers and the Foundling Hospital’s collection of tokens, patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital worked with artist Davina Drummond to experiment with the idea of joke sharing within their wards.

Through the process of developing their own medical jokes, children undergoing bone marrow transplants in Fox and Robin wards, and their families, explored and shared their experiences of treatment and isolation. As a way to share their personalised jokes, joke dispensing machines were situated at Great Ormond Street Hospital and in the Museum’s Introductory Gallery.

Since 2014 the Foundling Museum and GOSH Arts have worked in partnership to undertake a series of artist-led projects with children at the hospital, designed to enhance young patients’ experience as part of the holistic care provided. Responding to the legacy of the Foundling Hospital, the children have worked directly with visual artists to create animations and works of art addressing their personal experiences of hospital.

In partnership with GOSH Arts

  • Why did the patient dance in front of his medicine bottle? Because it said ‘twist to open’

  • What did the banana say to the doctor? I’m not peeling very well

  • Why did the nurse tiptoe past the drug store? Because he didn’t want to wake up the sleeping tablets

  • Why did the butterfly fly over the hospital? To give the patient a butterfly stitch

  • What do nurses and bad dreams have in common? They wake you up at night

  • Why did the patient run round his bed? To catch up on his sleep

  • What do eating too many marshmallows and chemo have in common? They both make you sick!

  • Patient: Doctor, doctor I’m feeling hot. Doctor: There’s no need to brag about it!

  • Why are there no painkillers in the jungle? Because the parrots-eat-‘em all!

  • Patient: Doctor, doctor, I’ve got a pain at the base of my back. Doctor: Let’s get to the bottom of it