Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
March 2, 2009
Issue #323 

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

Last year I wrote several Thought For The Week messages in memory of people I knew who had passed away.  This week's message is a tribute to somebody very special in my life, my mother.  She had a massive stroke early in February.  I flew down to be with my family.  She passed away on February 19, and her funeral was February 27.  I returned home yesterday.  That is why there had not been any newsletters for several weeks.
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Lecture Schedule
New Article Published
Circus Lingo

Thought For The Week 


March 2, 2009
 "It takes at least a couple of decades to realize that you were well taught. All true education is a delayed-action bomb assembled in the classroom for explosion at a later date. An educational fuse of 50 years long is by no means unusual."  -- Kenneth D. Gangel
For most people their parents are their most important teachers although they don't realize it at the time.  Like many people I went through an arrogant, cocky period when I was young.  It was only later that I came to realize how much I had learned from my parents and the importance of their contributions to my life.
My mother, Irene Rose Johnson, passed away on February 19.  One of the lessons I learned from her was that family members do whatever they can for each other.  My father asked me to speak at her funeral.  Here is part of what I said, "During my first season as a clown with a circus we were playing in small towns.  I wanted to make a new prop but couldn't find what I needed.  I called my parents and asked them to purchase it and mail it to me.  I don't remember what I needed but it must have been a strange collection because the cashier asked my Mom, 'What do you need all of this for?'
"My Mom said, 'It's for my son, He's a circus clown.'
"The cashier said, 'Oh, really, I have never met the mother of a clown before.'  (That made my mother feel very special.)
"I knew that I could ask my mother for help because she had always done everything she could for me and my brother and sisters.  When we moved to Long Beach (CA), her first job was selling Avon products so she could work her schedule around us.  Then she got a job working evenings at a Taco Stand.  She was home during the day until my father came home and then she went to work.  Sometimes Dad would take us to her stand and buy us Taco Burgers so they would have a chance to talk.  When I got old enough to watch the others for short periods of time, she got a job working swing shift at Robertshaw.  Dad would feed us and then he would pack up some food.  He drove to Robertshaw and she would meet him in the parking lot during her break and the two of them would have a picnic sitting in the car.  Later, she moved to the day shift and did the things mothers often do to help their children.  She was a Cub Scout Den Mother, a Girl Scout leader, and she sat up late at night typing our term papers before we learned to type ourselves."
There were many other things that I learned from my parents.  I developed my work ethic from their example and encouragement. 
One of my earliest memories of my mother is seeing her read mystery stories.  I know that I got my love of reading in general, and mysteries in particular, from her.  She also loved to play games.  When I was in third grade, we would have a family game night once a week.  Later, she and I would compete against each other watching Wheel of Fortune on TV.  The last time that my parents visited me we sat up late at night playing a card game that my Mom especially enjoyed.  I have incorporated the playful spirit that I learned from her into my clown performances.  I have come to appreciate the intellectual stimulation provided by reading mysteries and playing games.
I know that my Christian faith came from my parents.  They made sure that we went to church and Sunday School as we grew up.  They also taught me to serve God.
One thing that I feel peace about is that in recent years I made a conscious effort to let my parents know how much I appreciate the contributions they made to my life.  I know I truly would never have accomplished what I did without their support and encouragement.
What important lessons did you learn from your parents?  If they are still alive, have you told them that?  Who else has been an important influence in your life?  Can you thank them for what they taught you? 
I consider my many friends part of my extended family and try to help them when possible.  Who do you consider to be members of your extended family?  What can you do for them?
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 wrote an article titled Massal Tube God Is Love Blendo that appeared in the February 2009 issue of Duane Laflin's Advance newsletter.  This newsletter is written for those who are serious about using variety arts to teach spiritual truths. In his introduction to the article, Duane wrote, "Please notice how Bruce has added some touches to the handling of the Massal Tube that make the prop even more clever and baffling."  The Massal Tube is manufactured by Laflin Magic and can be used to produce or transform silk scarves and other objects.  In my routine four eighteen-inch scarves are transformed into a single 36-inch scarf.  The main theme for the article is justifying your actions and paying attention to details that make a prop easier to handle.
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Bruce Johnson
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Copyright 2009 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.
All rights reserved. 
Circus Lingo

  Pay - Play

This phrase is a mutual guarantee that began in vaudeville. 
It means that if the entertainer is avaiable for a performance they are paid their contract amount whether a performance is actually held.  For example, if your contract says you will be paid $700 a week and the producer was unable to book a show on one day you are paid for the entire week.  Your fee is not prorated based on the number of days there were performances.
The other side of the agreement is that if you are not available for a performance, you owe the producer the contract amount.  This is partly to prevent the unethical practice of accepting one contract and then trying to cancel if you find a better deal.  For example, if you sign a Pay Play contract for $700 and somebody later offers you $800.  It woudl not be profitable to take the second offer because you would owe the first producer $700 so you would only make a $100 profit by taking the second offer.

It also protects a producer who has agreed to provide a specific feature for a show.  For example, around 1984, Ed Russell and I signed a contract to produce a circus for the Sacromento Bee Carrier Appreciation Day.  Our contract specified that the show had to include an elephant act.  We did not have a Pay Play contract with our acts and the elephant trainer we had originally signed backed out just days before the performance.  Without an elephant act we would be in violation of our contract and not been paid for the show.  Fortunately I was able to contact Gary Johnson who went out of his way to provide a substitue for us.
Pay Play is a phrase that is still used in entertainment contracts, but often people don't understand the meaning when they sign.  Remember that it protects your rights and the rights of the producer.
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