Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
February 9, 2009
Issue #323 

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I used Trick Cartoons as an example in my Thought of the Week last week. 
There was a lot of interest in Trick Cartoons.  That is one of the subjects that I will be teaching at Clown Camp this summer.  You will find a complete list of topics that I will be teaching there under my lecture schedule.
I have added some more information on Trick Cartoons at the end of this newsleter.
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Lecture Schedule
New Article Published
Trick Cartoons
Circus Lingo

Thought For The Week 


February 9, 2009
"Often an idea would occur to me which seemed to have force... I never let one of those ideas escape me, but wrote it on a scrap of paper and put it in that drawer.  In that way I saved my best thoughts on the subject, and you know, such things often come in a kind of intuitive way more clearly than it one were to sit down and deliberately reason them out.  To save the results of such mental action is true intellectual economy... Of course, in this instance, I had to arrange the material at hand and adapt it to the particular case presented."  -- Abraham Lincoln speaking to James F. Wilson, June 1862
Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday is this Thursday so there has been a lot of information distributed about him.  This quote demonstrates that he understood the creative process.
While President Obama selected and recruited his cabinet members, there was a lot of talk about President Lincoln's cabinet being a "team of rivals."  Lincoln did not surround himself with people who agreed with him.  He surrounded himself with people who would provide him a variety of opinions and lots of information.  Working to solve a problem by gathering information and trying to find a solution is the first step of the creative process.  That is gathering the raw material for your mind to work with.
Then you allow incubation to occur.  You take time off from working on a problem to let your subconscious work on a solution.  Eventually in a moment of illumination you become aware of an idea that is the result of that mental activity.  Those ideas can often be fleeting.  You have to record them in some way to preserve them so they are available for use later.  Sometimes an idea comes but you aren't ready to put it into action.  At other times an idea is only a partial solution that eventually needs to be combined with a newer idea to be useful.
There are many ways to record your ideas.  I tend to use the scrap of paper method initially.  Then eventually I transfer them to a notebook or add them to a computer file.  At one period in my career I entered my ideas directly into a notebook.  Some entertainers like to maintain a journal so ideas are recorded in the order they occurred.  Others try to record ideas in an organized manner, for example, based on topic.  I knew one entertainer who recorded his ideas on a calendar so they were accessible at the right time.  For example, he recorded Christmas ideas on the December page and he recorded summer reading program ideas on the June page.
Just recording your ideas is not enough.  You can't just hoard ideas.  If that is all you are doing you are not saving your ideas, you are entombing them in an intellectual cemetery.  Lincoln didn't just put his ideas into a drawer.  He took them out and looked at them again.  You have to retrieve your ideas and figure out the best way to use them.  To benefit from your intellectual economy you have to use your intellectual property to obtain something of value.
Your initial ideas aren't the end product.  You have to arrange and adapt them to fit a particular circumstance.  An idea that did not work on a previous project, when sufficiently altered, may be perfect for a new project.
Do you understand and purposely use the creative process?  Do you actively seek a wealth of information and a variety of opinions?  Do you take time off from conscious effort to allow your subconscious the opportunity to work?  Do you practice intellectual economy?  How can you record your ideas when the flash of illumination occurs?  How do you preserve your ideas?  Where do you keep them?  How can you retrieve them?  What method of organization makes sense to you?  How often do you review your ideas?  When you are working on a specific project which ideas are applicable?  How can you arrange them to make them most effective?  How can you alter or adapt them to fit a new circumstance?
I will be teaching a class on the Creative Process at Clown Camp®.  You will find more information listed under the lecture schedule below.
The creative process is the subject of Creativity For Entertainers Volume One
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.  
June 7-13, 2009
Clown Camp
La Crosse, WI
The 29th and final reqular year for this excellent educational program.
Staff on Stage, Trick Cartoons for Clowns, An Introduction to Comedy Techniques, Card Magic for Clowns, The Creative Process, Audience Interaction 
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


New Article Published

   I write a column for The Cross and the Clown magazine published by the Fellowship of Christiand Clowns. 
My article in the January/February 2009  issue, is a review of the Magic Show Conference.  This is the conference that I have attended  each of the last five years for my own continuing education.  I have learned a lot of magic there that I have added to my act.  However, that is not the emphasis of the conference.  The conference focuses on showmanship.  Many clowns attend this conference even though it is designed for magicians.  I am planning to attend again this year April 30-May 2 and hope to see many Thought For The Week subscribers there.

.Hal "Halaloo" Grant is another The Cross and the Clown columnist.  I always look forward to reading his articles because they are thought provoking.   In his article in this issue he says, "It is a new year.  A time to reflect.  Redirect and recharge."  He discusses encouraging others so they are recharged.  He also lists some ways in which he gets rechraged including "Charlie's Thoughts that arrive each week in my email"  I would like to thank Hal for helping to spread the word about my newsletter.
The columnists in The Cross and the Clown range from Janet Tucker, who is a layperson involved in gospel clowning, to Roli Bain and Randy Christensen, both ordained ministers.  Randy has specialized in ministry to children.  He has used variety arts to teach spiritual lessons.  He has also descipled others in using music and variety arts as ministry tools.  He has taught children how to lead songs and participate in other ways in preparation for future roles as church leaders.  He has also taught adults to use variety arts to minister to children. 
Randy mentored one of the other The Cross and the Clown columnists, his son Ben.  Ben Christensen literally grew up involved in ministry with the rest of the Christensen family.  Now he is a college student and a very talented juggler.  It is interesting getting his youthful perspective combined with his years of experience.

Trick Cartoons

I love performing and teaching trick cartoons.  My Charlie's Trick Cartoons lecture note booklet is one of my best selling publications.  If you can print the letters of the alphpabet and numbers you can learn to perform trick cartoons.  I have discovered that people have different learning methods.  Some prefer to see something demonstrated live and others prefer to take their time studying books.  That is why I do both lectures about trick cartoons and published a set of lecture notes. 
One advantage to attending a lecture is that it is the most current material.  I am continuing to learn about trick cartoons and improving those that I have created.  A couple of years ago I published a second edition of my lecture notes to update them, but some of the material that I present in my lecture is newer than what is in the book.  I change what I present in the lecture based upon feedback that I receive from participants.
Some of the new material in the second edition of my lecture notes focuses on tips for creating your own cartoons.
One of the most popular things in both the live lecture and my published notes is turning the word FUN into a picture of your clown character.  For an animated version of my tramp character click on the link below.
One of my goals is to develop at least one cartoon in different languages because I do a lot of multicultural performances.  I have recently developed a new cartoon turning Payaso, the Spanish word for clown, into a picture of Charlie.  That is one thing I will demonstrate in my live lecture.
Remember if you purchase Charlie's Trick Cartoons, I'll include a fee copy of Charlie's Contemplation's,  a booklet reprinting the first 52 Thought for the Week articles.  The price for Charlie's Trick Cartoons is $10 plus $5 postage and handling.
 Buy Now
Thank you for being a subscriber.
I would appreciate anything you can do to spread the word about my newsletters.  You are welcome to forward this newsletter to a friend using the forward link below.

Bruce Johnson
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Copyright 2009 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.
All rights reserved. 
Circus Lingo

  John Robinson

 A John Robinson is a show or act that is shortened.  John Robinson was a circus owner known for doing shorter performances when attendance was low.  It is generally frowned upon and avoided if possible in modern circuses, especially outdoor shows.  An outdoor circus may have trouble finding a lot where they can set up.  They also rely upon a local sponsor to help sell tickets.  It is much easier to return to a location than find a new one.  Therefore shows depend upon repeat business based on satisfied customers.  If people who attend an evening show see a different performance than those who attended the matinee those who saw the condensed show will be dissatisfied when they compare their experience when talking with friends.
Obviously show people don't want customers to learn a show is being condensed by overhearing show people talking about it.  For that reason the term John Robinson is used.  One show started using the term Readers Digest, but they discovered some people guessed that meant a condensed performance so they returned to the more traditional phrase.
Usually a John Robinson show is declared when there is an approaching hazard.  For example, if there is an approaching storm, especially one that may produce strong winds, a John Robinson may be decided upon in an effort to conclude the performance before the height of the storm arrives.  Wind is one of the greatest hazards in an outdoor circus.  I witnessed a few blow downs and was amazed at the power of wind and the amount of damage it can cause.  Normally after the last show in a town, the contents of the tents are removed and then the canvass crew lowers the tent.  In a John Robinson situation the blow off activities are cancelled.  When the audience has exited everyone connected with the show performs an emergency tear down.  The seats are collapsed onto the ground; props that can be safely left in the tent are laid down; anything that might damage the canvass is removed: and, then everyone helps to lower the canvass.  Once the canvass is safely on the ground where wind will pass over it, the canvass crew takes over and everyone else is released from duty. The canvass crew carefully folds the tents and then those things underneath it are retrieved and packed.  When I was with the Carson & Barnes Circus, the tear down was normally completed about two hours after the performance was completed.  In an emergency tear down we could get the Big Top on the ground about twenty minutes after the performance ended.
The standard practice in a John Robinson show is for every act to appear, but each act shortens their performance. 
Now that I am no longer touring with circuses, I rarely perform a John Robinson show or act.  The few times that I do it is caused by an earlier act in a variety show running beyond their assigned length.  Sometimes every act afterwards shortens their performance a little so the overall production concludes on time.  More often the last act is forced to drastically cut their performance.

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