Mina Liccione - Using Laughter to Heal and Hearten
Mina Liccione is an award-winning stand up, actor, choreographer, director and the dynamic personality behind Clowns that Care. The native New Yorker began performing aged three and teaching in her early teens. “I was a Broadway baby; it was part of this New York culture – the kids danced, sang and acted; that’s how I was raised!”
A true hybrid artist whose two passions are rhythm and comedy, the selfless performer is intent on educating and giving as much back to the community as possible. “It’s about educating, not just performing and leaving,” says Mina who pioneered the first and only comedy school in the MENA region which quickly grew into Dubomedy Arts School.
“The whole point of Dubomedy was about getting to grassroots and forming a local arts community. When I first moved here there really wasn’t anything. All the comediennes were being flown in. There was a stigma against comedy in that it involved swearing and talking about sex, drugs and religion – you don’t need to do any of these things and you can still be extremely funny. I started leading some workshops with kids, then body percussion and tap dance followed by comedy classes which were a real hit with many different cultures.”
Improvisation training, says Mina, is a life skill. “A lot of people come to these classes to build their confidence. I’ve learnt the people that are the shyest in the beginning are the funniest at the end because they have all this stuff happening inside – they just don’t know how to release it.”
Even more heart-warming is the work Mina has instigated in Dubai for kids with special needs. Using her experience garnered from training programmes in San Francisco and New York such as the Clown Care Unit of the Big Apple Circus, Mina and her team now work with organisations like Senses Dubai and Dubai Autism Centre and are putting on a big stand up comedy show for the Arthritis Foundation to raise money for those who can’t afford their medication.
“Laughter is a fantastic healing tool for kids. It’s so clichéd to say laughter is the best medicine but it’s proven that it works. It’s a cliché because it’s true. Being a Clown that Cares is an overwhelming but humbling experience and these kids really need it. The goal is for them to hopefully remember the clowns more than they remember the pain.
“Afterwards we all interact. We teach the kids dances, songs and circus skills and get them to tell us a story; that’s what really gets them inspired.”
What She Wants You To Know
“You don’t have to be rich to help. Just donate your time and your energy.”
Her Stay Healthy Secret
“It’s so easy to get into a funk in Dubai because it can stress you out. My solution is to take a walk on the beach to make me feel good.”