Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
January 12, 2009
Issue #319 

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

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
Lecture Schedule
Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter
Circus Lingo

Thought For The Week 


January 12, 2009
I definitely am not an expert on marketing or business.  However, advice that I have been reading from many different experts in those fields is that adapting and innovation are how to thrive in a recession.  For example, one of the few major corporations to report a fourth quarter profit in 2008 was Apple Computers.  Much of their profit came from their popular iPhone instead of their computers.  They had found a successful new product and market when they needed it.
A major advantage to studying creativity is that it allows you to adapt.  I have had to adapt many times in my career.  Perhaps the largest adaptation came in 1983 when a small circus I had been touring with closed at the beginning of the summer.  I was suddenly out of work.  In searching for work, I was hired by Raging Waters, an aquatic amusement park, for their grand opening.  They liked what I did and hired me for the rest of the summer.  After six seasons with circuses I had become an expert in that type of performance.  I knew how to meet the needs of circus producers.  I quickly discovered that an amusement park had a different set of needs.  For example, in a circus the audience is seated and I might have to fill a specific period of time while the riggers set props.  One of my first duties at the amusement park was entertaining people waiting in line for an attraction.  That meant my audience was moving past me and I did not have time to perform a long routine.  I had to adapt to working much faster.  As I learned more about the needs of an amusement park I discovered new ways to meet them.  As a result I worked for them for eleven years and they would have liked me to stay longer.  They hired other entertainers over the years, but they did not last long because they could not figure out how to adapt their performances to the needs of the park. 
Raging Waters was closed during the winter so I needed a source of income between seasons.  I was invited by the Ports O' Call shopping center to be one of their street performers.  (Ports O' Call is next to the Los Angeles cruise ship terminal and a tourist destination.)  Again I had to adapt my performances.  I had to attract a crowd before each show.  Store owners wanted me to attract people to their portion of the center but I had to be careful that my crowd did not block their doorways for very long.  (Eventually I learned which owners would allow me to block their doors because they had increased sales after my show and which owners became upset if their door was blocked at all.)  I also had to learn how to collect tips during my performance.
When I first moved to Seattle I started performing birthday parties.  I had to adapt to that because it is different from circus and amusement park entertainment.  That venue has not been as successful for me recently.  I have been finding more success doing strolling entertainment at large events.  A venue I have always been interested in is Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquets, but I have not done many of them.  So, I decided to pursue that this year.  Part of the reason I decided the timing is right is this is the 100th anniversary of scouting in America so the packs will be making this a big celebration and spend money on entertainment.  I contacted the local Boy Scout Council to get some information on how to contact the Packs and learned their annual expo is this month.  I have arranged to have a booth and showcase at their expo.  I also learned that there is a second annual event where Cub Packs use entertainment, the Pinewood Derby Races, and am planning my promotional material to include that option.
Since I have fewer bookings right now I am using the available time to update my promotional material.  The Scout Expo is set up for PowerPoint presentations so I am working on one for that venue that I can easily adapt to other venues.  I have been gradually updating and improving my web site.  I am learning how to use a new program to improve my email newsletters.  I have put together a brochure promoting my services as a variety arts instructor and have gotten good initial response to it.  Recently a customer asked if I had anything available on YouTube that they could see, so I am looking into using that medium to promote my business.
What new venue have you been interested in?  Is this the time to try to break into it?  What is the best way to market to them?  What changes would you have to make to your performances to meet the needs of that venue?  What can you do to improve your promotional materials?


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.  "In discussing the history of the "Banana Bandana" routine (Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three page 247) I said the first time that I saw it performed was in the 1980's.  I recenlty found a reference to it being performed by

Becky "Rainbow" Santora and Leslie "Flower" Homan in the 1970s."

Here is another example.  "If you want to perform the routine with alphabet cards on page 154 of Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three, a good deck to use is Word Rummy.  The deck comes with 98 brightly colored cards.  The letters fill the face of the card so they are easy to read from a distance.  I would recommend getting two decks because even with 98 choices there may not be enough letters to spell every word.  For example, I recently wanted to do the effect with a word containing two K's but the deck had only one."   


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 right 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
Circus Lingo


  Donniker is the circus word for a portable toilet.  Clowns who graduated from the RBB&BClown College tend to use donniker for any type of toilet.  However, people touring with outdoor circuses use donniker exclusively for a portable toilet.  If a toilet is permanent with plumbing it is called a flushie.  When I toured with an outdoor show, there was always great excitement when we discovered a lot contained flushies.
Often clowns with an outdoor circus receive little respect.  An indication of this is that on many shows it is traditional to assign a clown to drive the donniker truck.  When I was with Circus Kirk in 1977 two of the other clowns drove the step van containing the donniker.  In 1981, I drove a pick up truck that pulled the Carson & Barnes Circus donniker, which was four porta potties mounted on a trailer containing a large holding tank.
One advantage to driving the donniker is that you don't have to look for a rest stop.  You simply find a parking spot and hop into the back.  On long jumps I would sometimes be flagged down by other circus drivers parked along the road who were waiting to use my trailer. 
Driving the donniker really wasn't unpleasant because I was always upwind from the trailer.  The same could not be said for other people.  One day the show was in Texas near the Mexican border.  We were warned to be ready to stop at a special immigration check point set up by the border patrol.  As I approached the check point an officer began motioning for me to slow down.  Then I noticed him sniffing the air.  When he recognized what was on the trailer, he began motioning for me to speed up.  I was the only circus driver who did not have to stop at the check point and wait while their vehicle was searched.
The origin of donniker is unknown.  There is really no reason for it execpt that sometimes slang is used to promote unity within a group by excluding those who don't understand it.  There is still some animosity towards circus people by some segments of our society so there can sometimes be an "us against the world" attitude when travelling with a show.  If somebody claims to have circus experience, I can always tell if they are truthful because of the terms that they use.

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