Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
January 5, 2009
Issue #318 

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

Welcome and Happy New Year. 
When I wrote the Creativity For Entertainers trilogy, my goal was to make as useful a resource as possible for the readers. 
I am now offering a new service to Creativity For Enterainers readers.  It is an occasional newsletter.  There will be no set schedule.  I will send it when I think I have something of interest for readers.  I will not check to be sure you own the books when you subscribe, but you will benefit the most if you have the books to refer to.  You will find more information below the lecture schedule.
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
In Memory: John Cooper
Lecture Schedule
Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter
Career Highlight
Thought For The Week 

"There is always, in every audience, no matter where, people who have heavy hearts. I feel my purpose as an entertainer is to make them forget, for the few minutes that I appear before them, their everyday problems. My only purpose is to bring love and joy to them."   -Neal Foster, magician


"People come (to the show) to be in dreams.  It is not about me.  Not about what is real.  I show romance and excitement and love." - Voronin, magician starring in The Trickster's Trunk, a Teatro ZinZanni production.


"I hope that you have had as much fun as I have had.  It is a lot of fun to try to make people laugh.  Regardless of what your heartache might be, while laughing for a few seconds you have forgotten about it.  Thanks for coming, and good night.  God bless."  -- Red Skelton's curtain speech.


Randy Pryor separated jugglers into two types, performers and entertainers.  A performer expresses their goals in terms of their own accomplishments.  For example, performing a trick called Mill's Mess or being able to pass seven clubs with a partner.  Once they are able to accomplish it, they want to demonstrate that to others they expect to be impressed which means performing mainly for other jugglers who appreciate the skill required to perform a specific trick. Entertainers express their goals in terms of an emotion they want their audience to feel.  For example, they may want people in the audience to feel excitement or joy.  They perform most often for lay audiences who don't understand the skill required to perform a particular routine.


I see the two categories in magic, clowning, balloon sculpture, and other variety arts as well.  To a performer, the show is about them and what they receive from their audience.  To an entertainer, the show is about the audience and what they to give to them.


To a performer, accomplishing a trick is the end result.  To an entertainer, accomplishing a trick is a step towards another goal.  A performer focuses all their attention on an individual trick.  An entertainer pays attention to how to combine a trick with others for maximum effect.  An entertainer uses technical theater techniques like sound, lighting, costuming, and props to reinforce the audience's perception of what is happening.  An entertainer uses timing, rhythm, flow, contrast, and focus to enhance the audience's experience.  An entertainer expresses their personality to connect with the audience on an emotional level.


At CaliforniaStateUniversity - Long Beach, I took a class from Ken Rugg, who taught the children's theater classes.  We each drew a slip of paper from a hat.  Each slip contained a different emotion, for example, surprise, pride, joy, sadness, etc.  Our assignment was to prepare a fifteen-minute experience that would cause everyone in the class to feel that emotion, and afterwards the class had to be able to guess the emotion.  The slip that I drew was success.  I spent five minutes teaching everyone a simple magic trick and then gave them time to work on a puzzle I thought they should be able to solve.  (I figured if they had difficulty with one task they would succeed at the other.)  Everyone guessed that I wanted them to feel success.  It was fascinating seeing all the different approaches used by the students.  It taught me that entertainment is about different emotions.  It showed me that entertainment is more about what the audience feels than about what they see.


Are you a performer or an entertainer?  What do you want the audience to experience when they attend one of your shows?  What do you think your audience is looking for?  What needs do they have?  How can you meet them?  What emotions do you want your audience to feel?  How can you create a situation that helps them experience that?  What elements of showmanship can you use to enhance that experience?


In Memory: John Cooper


John Cooper passed away on December 28, 2008.  I talked to John a few times on the phone, but knew him mainly through his writing.  He was a Laugh-Makers Magazine columnist, and was the original product review columnist for Kidabra Magazine.  He was the first person to publish a review of my Creativity For Entertainers trilogy.


One of my favorite routines, torn and restored mismade message, was inspired by John's Birthday Happy routine that was manufactured and distributed by Bob Gibbons.


In addition to his writing, John was a magician, educational speaker, and a performance coach.


John was a good friend with many in the entertainment world, especially in the field of family entertainment, and I have seen several tributes to him posted on-line. 


John had heart problems during the last twenty years which were recently complicated by kidney failure.  Many magicians are now trying to help raise money so John's wife, Cathi, can pay his medical bills.  John was unable to get health insurance because he had a pre-existing condition.  A fund has been set up where you can make tax deductible donations.  It is the John V. Cooper Fund, c/o Regions Bank, 3404 Clemson Boulevard, Anderson, SC 29621.

Lecture Schedule 
 April 25, 2009
Mid Illinois Magic Conference
Scottish Rite Cathedral
400 E. Perry Ave, Peoria, IL
Lecture on comedy writing (unique to this conference)
Performance in public variety show
Registration opens at 8 AM.  The show begins at 7 PM.  They will have a web site up soon with additional details.
I believe in promoting any event I will be lecturing at.  If you schedule me for an educational event that you are hosting, I will list it here if it is open to the public.  (I have lectured for some groups that restricted attendance to their members to preserve an intimate experience and to allow for more hands on learning opportunities.)  My goal is to to what I can to best meet the needs of you and your group.
For information on additional services that I can provide for an educational event click here


Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter


I am starting an occasional newsletter for owners of my Creativity for Entertainers Trilogy. 

 Creativity Trilogy

The Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter is a free service intended for people who have purchased my Creativity For Entertainers books.  The newsletter will include corrections to the books, resources that I have discovered, and additional ideas.


Others may subscribe, but they will not receive full value from it because I will refer to things in the books without explaining them fully.  Here is an example of the type of material that may be in it.  "An excellent resource if you want to perform Larry Becker's Punchlines routine (Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three page 147) is Jeff Brown's American Riddles collection of books.  He has produced a book of riddles for each of the 50 United States.  Each book has over 4 dozen riddles specifically written for that state.  Most of the riddles are paired with an interesting bit of information about the state.  One possible use of the routine is in an educational show about your state.  Also, I have found that when you travel, doing something topical related to the location increases your audience rapport.  Using Jeff's books will allow you to easily customize this routine to the state you are performing in.   For samples of some of the riddles and ordering information click here American Riddles


The Creativity For Entertainers trilogy includes many idea prompts.  I find that those prompts continue to inspire me to create new ideas.  Also, I receive further inspiration as I correspond with readers and they share the ways they have applied the information in the books.  With their permission, I may share some of the ideas that I have received from those readers.  This newsletter will allow the chain of inspiration to continue between me and my readers.



The creativity newsletter will not be sent on any predetermined schedule.  I will send it when I have something that I think will be useful to readers.  To subscribe click the Join Our Mailing List button on the left side of this newsletter, and then check Creativity For Entertainers on your preference list.

Thank you for being a subscriber.
You are welcome to forward this newsletter to a friend using the forward link below.

Bruce Johnson
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Career Highlight

100th Tournament of Roses Parade 


Twenty years ago I had the pleasure of performing on the Sheraton Hotel Float in the 100th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA.  (This was the second bowl parade that I appeared in.  Several years earlier I had been in the Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, AZ.)


The audition for appearing on the float was one of the best in which I have ever participated.  Three charities working with underprivileged children brought groups of kids to the Sheraton Hotel at Universal Studios.  The kids were turned loose in a ball room.  Then the judges spent forty-five minutes observing the clowns interacting with the kids.  Afterwards each group of kids chose one of their members to join the panel of judges.  Then the clowns lined up in front of the judges and we each could do a brief bit.  The judges, including the kids, voted on the six clowns who appeared on the float.  Two Sheraton hotel employees, and the daughter of an employee, were also selected to dress like clowns and appear on the float.  The clowns were chosen for their ability to entertain the kids one-on-one, but the Rose Parade rules prohibited us from leaving the float during the parade so we had no direct contact with individuals in the audience.  The parade moves at five miles per hour, about twice the speed of a normal parade, so we did not have time to interact much with anyone.  Much of the five-mile long route was lined with reserved seat bleachers making it seem like we were performing in a five-mile long football stadium.  People begin arriving 24 hours in advance and camped out to secure the best of the unreserved seats.  Over a million people saw the parade in person.


I used one of Steve Axtell's Pedro Parrot puppets and his Bird Arm Illusion for my appearance on the float.  (I had been using them previously at the Raging Waters amusement park.)  I did not know Steve was negotiating with a toy company to produce a toy version of his puppet.  The day I informed him that I would be using his products; the company asked him if he had any video of somebody using them.  He taped every station televising the parade, edited together the shots of me on the float, and submitted it to the manufacturer.  He later told me that clinched the deal for him.



Rose Parade floats have to be covered entirely in plant material.  Even the safety bars for the passengers are covered with leaves.  The only things on the floats that are not covered are the leather belts that fasten passengers to the safety bars.  The day before the parade the decorations have to be complete.  All the clowns had to be in our places on the float for two hours the afternoon of December 31 while the parade judges studied each individual float.


We had a 4:45 AM call time on New Years Day, in make up and costume.  We had to be alongside our float for the TV pre-parade coverage which started early because of the time difference with the east coast version of the morning shows.  The line up area was thronged by crouds eager to see the floats up close and to pose for photographs with float riders.


Over 350 million people world wide watched the parade on television.  ABC, NBC, CBS, the Fox network, two local California stations, and a Spanish language station all broadcast the parade.  Because their advertising revenue is determined by ratings, the stations are very competitive.  There was a camera every five feet in the two-block long broadcast area.  There were also cameras in a blimp, helicopters, cherry pickers, hanging from cranes, and perched on towers.  The Fox network televised the parade in 3D, making it the first live event ever broadcast using that medium.  (That evening the Orange Bowl half time show, which had a magic theme, became the second live event broadcast in 3D.  I believe they are the only live 3D broadcasts in history.) 


I watched the Orange Bowl Parade on TV the night before I appeared in the Rose Bowl Parade.  I was excited to recognize two of my friends, Brenda Johnson Ahern and Kenny Ahern, appearing with a group of other Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performers in that parade.  Knowing that we were appearing in parades on opposite sides of the country within 24 hours of each other, added to my enjoyment of the experience.

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