Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
January 26, 2009
Issue #321 

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

This is a day of celebration for some of my international subscribers.  It is Australia Day on that continent, Republic Day in India, and the start of the fifteen-day New Year celebration in China.  Some people in America observe Chinese New Year as part of their cultural heritage.  I wish everyone a wonderful celebration.
I've added an event to my lecture schedule.  Keep checking that section to see where I will be lecturing.  I am hoping to add some other new locations soon.
Thank you to those who have been providing feedback about my newsletter.  The glimpses of what it was like to travel with the circus have been popular so I will continue with them.
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Lecture Schedule
Victor Borge Centinneal
Special Offer
Circus Lingo

Thought For The Week 


January 19, 2009
 "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success.  You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." - Babe Ruth
In the mid-1980's I co-produced and managed some spot date circus performances.  Most of our shows were weekend dates and we would hire acts for that specific weekend.  Then we would hire acts for the next weekend we had booked.  (It might be several months between shows.)    My partner and I discovered that hiring good acts that assisted each other resulted in a better show than hiring great isolated acts.  When acts worked together the quality of every act was improved.  Some people with great acts were difficult to work with.  Having to deal with them distracted us from other details needing our attention and the show suffered overall.  We would hire them one time only.  The entertainers we hired repeatedly were those that made a special effort to help our show.  For example, a truck we used to transport equipment wasn't available one weekend so Chester Cable loaned us his trailer.  When I tried to hook his trailer up to my station wagon we discovered that the wiring was not compatible.  (When I turned on the left turn signal on my station wagon the right turn signal on the trailer came on, etc.)  Chester rewired the trailer so it worked with my station wagon.  When I brought it back Chester had to rewire it again so it worked with his truck.  He wouldn't accept any money for the use of the trailer or his extra effort.  In gratitude for his help we hired Chester as often as possible. 
I believe that the teamwork among the staff members at Clown Camp is one of the things setting it apart from many conventions.  The core group of staff members has been together for many years and knows how to assist each other.  You may see somebody on stage performing as the star in one show, and at the next show they are back stage handling props, and at another show they run the sound. 
When Clown Camp was held at the U-WL campus the large lecture halls had a sound system, but the small class rooms did not.  When a small room was full it could be hard to hear the instructor.  Last year Paula Biggio was selling a fanny pack style sound system at Clown Camp .  She loaned one to Carole and me to use in the small class rooms.  She told us that we were under no obligation to purchase it, but it improved our lectures so much that we did buy it for future use.  Of course, letting us use it during classes demonstrated it to the participants so we hope she had increased sales.  It is common to see instructors demonstrate items in class that other dealers have on their table to help them with their sales.  (Lee Mullally said that he has learned to bring more of his foam rubber cameras when Carole teaches her Props for Caring Clowns class because her demonstration of how she uses it is so effective.)
Clown Camp Information
Another educational program where I have seen the staff work together well is the Magic Show Conference.  That contributes to the excellent atmosphere at the conference which is one of the reasons I have attended each year for my own continuing education.  Every class at the Magic Show Conference is a general session.  The instructors all attend the other classes and will often build upon something said by somebody else in an earlier class.
Magic Show Conference Information
Do you play well with others?  When you are appearing in a show what can you do to help the other acts give a better performance?  What can you do to contribute to the overall success of the show?  When you are part of a group what can you do to assist each of the other members?  What can you do to increase your value to a client hiring you for an event?

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.
June 7-13, 2009
Clown Camp
La Crosse, WI
The 29th and final reqular year for this excellent educational program.
Topics to be announced.
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.  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


Victor Borge Centinneal


Victor Borge was one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century.  He was one of my sources of inspiration and I know he has influenced other clowns as well.  This year his 100th birthday is being celebrated with events around the world.  One of them is a special exhibition at Scandinavia House in new York City.  It opened this weekend and will run through May 2.  Thought For The Week subscribers who will be visiting New York during that time may find the exhibit interesting.



 Victor Borge was the cover story of 23rd issue of the sixth volume of my Clown In Times, a quarterly journal devoted to clown history. I did a pen & ink illustration of Victor which appeared on the cover.  An excerpt of the artcile about Victor is available on my web site.  The issue containing the entire article is available for purchase for $5 plus $5 shipping and handling.  I will honor the special offer below if you order that issue.
 You may order a copy of Clown In Times issue 23 using the PayPal button below or by sending a check or money order to
Charlie's Creative Comedy P.O. Box 82165, Kenmore, WA 98028
Buy Now

Special Offer

I sent my first Thought for the Week May 2, 2001.  The first ones were about half the length of those in recent years.  I have collected the first 52 into a booklet titled Charlie's Contemplation's: Thoughts on Entertainment Excellence.  Order any of my other lecture note pamplets, or the Victor Borge issue of the Clown In Times, and I will include a free copy of Charlie's Contemplation's.  If you were not an original subscriber this will give you a chance to see what you missed.
My other lecture note pamplets are titled Charlie's Comedy Bits, Charlie's Trick Cartoons: Second Edition, Comedy Blackouts, Introduction to Silk Magic for Clowns, and Jest Juggle: How to Make Juggling Entertaining.  For information on these pamplets click below.
Use PayPal on my web site or send an order by mail and I will automatically include Charlie's Contemplation's.
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

  Mail Call


Family members need to know the route so they can send mail.  When I was traveling with the Carson & Barnes Circus my parents would send mail addressed me to me as Bruce Johnson, Carson & Barnes Circus, c/o General Delivery, Town, State, Zip Code.  They wrote "Postmaster hold for circus agent" in the lower left hand corner of the envelope.
Jeannie Reynolds was the Carson & Barnes Circus mail agent.  Each week day she went to the post office to pick up the mail at the window.  Then she would put in a change of address card for the town we would be in seven days later.  That way any mail that arrived after we left town would be forwarded.  If a letter had just missed us it would probably be waiting seven days later. 


However, sometimes a letter or package would be delayed and not reach the next town until after we had left it.  Then it would be forwarded again.  Sometimes it took a while for a particular piece of mail to catch up with us.  My sister sent me a package of home made cookies that hop scotched its way across the country for six weeks before it finally caught up with me.  By then they were very stale, but I loved eating them anyway.
Mail was generally distributed at dinner.  Jeannie also sold stamps and took outgoing mail to the post office.  Because of the size of the lot required for all the tents and equipment ) Carson & Barnes often set up outside of town.  The town on the route card was just the nearest post office.  I performed in many towns without actually seeing the town.  Sometimes I would go weeks without seeing a mail box so Jeannie's service was very much appreciated.
The other method for receiving mail is through the show's home office.  For example, when I was with the Carson & Barnes Circus mail could be sent to me care of Post Office Box J, Hugo, OK.  The home office staff gathered the mail and either sent it in a large package care of general delivery to a town we would be performing in or somebody visiting the show would deliver it in person.  Because of their weight, and the cost of mailing them, catalogs and magazines were usually held until somebody brought them to the show.  It might take a while to receive mail sent care of the home office. 


In 1981, there were not many clown supply companies so I was always grateful to get my M.E. Pearson Clown Supply Catalog or my Fun Technicians Inc. Catalogs when they finally arrived.  While I was on the road I ordered many props from M. E. Pearson.  At that time clown make up was much harder to obtain, and many August clowns would mix white and red to create their own flesh tone.  Bob Gibbons began selling his Scoopy Pink flesh tone through his Fun Technicians, Inc.  That was the first make up specifically made for August clowns that I was aware of.  


The home office address is usually included in show programs and is available on the show's web site.  If you see a show, and want to write to one of the performers you can use the address from the program.  The majority of performers on the road don't get much fan mail so they are appreciative of anything they receive. 


In the early 1980's I saw Greg Laderet perform a comedy act with an ice skating show.  I wrote him a note telling him how much I enjoyed his act and sent it care of the home office.  Twenty years later he learned I was lecturing at a magic convention near his home.  When I arrived at the convention, the chairman told me that somebody was waiting for me.  Although he wasn't able to attend the convention, Greg had driven to the hotel and waited in the lobby all day so he could meet me in person and tell me how much my letter had meant to him.  We had a nice chat and then Greg returned home.

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