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Mexico 2017: Earthquake Laughter Brigade

“A small black and white dog crosses behind me a number of times. The second time I give her focus, and the dog looks straight at me as she continues walking to the other side of the road. I’m totally surprised when she starts barking behind me a little later, as I juggle cigar boxes. I jump and seek refuge behind a nearby woman sitting on a chair, then the dog and I have a standoff, and the kids are rolling in laughter. It’s a classic 1–2–3 and I feel the clown gods are watching over me.”

-Moshe Cohen, CWB – USA founder and performing artist

Tour Overview

Clowns Without Borders collaborated with the 5th Encuentro Internacional de Clown and a group of Mexican artists to perform for those impacted by the earthquakes in Mexico. The initiative was called Brigades de Risa, or The Laughter Brigade. The 5th Encuentro Internacional de Clown (International Clown Festival) was on our calendar for a long time prior to the earthquake. After it hit, The Laughter Brigade came together to organize performances and numerous participants from the festival volunteered. Participating artists included Andrés Aguilar (Mexico), Los Saltimbuanqui (Mexico), Lily Curcio (Brazil), Daniel Salvi (Brazil), and Moshe Cohen (USA). The first show took place in a shelter in Tlalpan on Saturday, October 27th. The Laughter Brigade toured to shelters in Mexico City and nearby towns in Morelos.

Tour Context

In September 2017, Mexico was impacted by two deadly earthquakes. The first, on September 7th, was magnitude 8.1, and was felt by over 50 million people. Its primary impact was in the Chiapas region. The second, on September 19th, was magnitude 7.1 and was felt by over 30 million people. Its epicenter was 75 miles from the capital, near Puebla. Thousands of people lost their homes, and over 1000 died, in these two earthquakes. As of October 26th, 2017, Mexico was impacted by 113 earthquakes in 30 days. The continued impact of aftershocks and small earthquakes made recovery challenging and especially traumatic. During this tour, many people were at the beginning of a long process of recovery and grief. The Laughter Brigade’s goal was to offer moments of levity, especially for those who have lost their homes.

CWB – USA follows United Nations naming conventions for all countries, nations, and territories, along with the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To read more about our Code of Ethics, click here


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