Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
April 20, 2009
Issue #329

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I did not send a newsletter last week because I was out of town on personal business.
I will be at the Mid Illinois Magic Conference this Saturday.  I will be lecturing, performing, and have my dealer table there.
I will be in Branson, MO the following week for the Magic Show Conference.  I will be a student there and have my dealr table.
Because of my involvement in those two conferences I will not be shipping products any later than this Wednesday.  Any orders received after April 23 will be shipped as soon as possible following May 4.
One of the unique features of the Magic Show Conference is the critique show.  A small group of performers will perform part of their act and then immediately receive a critique from a panel of staff members.  I have been on the critique panel at previous Magic Show Conferences.  Last year I signed up to perform in the critique show because I understood the value of the feedback given at this conference.  I am not of the critique panel this year, but if any Thought For The Week subscriber is performing and would like my comments I will be glad to give them in private.  All I ask is that you ask me before the performance so I am prepared to take notes while you perform.
I usually do not attend Open Mike sessions at other conferences because they are often late at night when I am preparing for the next day.  I am usually organizing visual aids for my classes, and am sometimes teching performances.  If any Thought For The Week performer would like me to critique their Open Mike performance, I will make an effort to be there if you request that ahead of time.
I know that there will be many Thought For The Week subscribers at the Mid Illinois Magic Conference and at the Magic Show Conference.  The easiest way to find me is to stop by my dealer table.  Please stop and say hello.
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Joyful Noiseletter
Creativity Newsletter
Lecture Schedule

Thought For The Week 


April 20, 2009
"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece."  -- John Ruskin
Sometimes I hear somebody say it does not matter how much skill they have as long as they have enough passion.  It seems like I hear that particularly from people involved in caring clowning or clown ministry.  However, you need both if you expect to create an entertaining moment that is a masterpiece.  Love is the heart that gives it life.  But that is not enough.  Without skill it is just a blob.  Skill is the bones that give it strength so it stands up. But that is not enough.  Without love it is just a lifeless skeleton.
One of my art classes in school included a water color unit.  I loved doing the paintings and used some of my favorite scenes as subjects.  Although I got an A on each individual painting, my teacher gave me a B for the unit.  When I asked her why, she said it was because I did not use enough different techniques to demonstrate my skill.  She offered to let me do an additional painting using more techniques.  I did a painting using every technique our instructor had demonstrated.  I don't remember the subject of that painting because I did not care about it.  All I was interested in was demonstrating my skill.  That painting was technically superior to my other paintings, but I received a C on it because it was boring.  I still got a B for the water painting unit.  I don't work in the watercolor medium anymore, but I do love to paint.  As a result I have painted some of my own customized silk scarves.  My love of art also led to my incorporation of trick cartoons into my performances.
I started performing magic when I was eight years old.  One of the things I first loved about magic was performing effects with silk scarves.  The feel and look of the silks appealed to me.  What I learned about silk magic inspired me to begin creating some of my own routines.  I like the versatility of working with scarves.  I still perform silk magic over forty years later.  Because I love it so much I have worked on improving my skill, especially using hidden gimmicks.  Often the part of my performance that people comment on the most is one of my silk routines because the combination of love and skill has turned them into masterpieces.
When Carole first started clowning, she thought she had to do everything.  She tried performing skits with a local clown alley, doing birthday parties, and other events.  She really was not too successful at that.  She loves small children and the elderly.  When she decided to concentrate on what she loves she found success.  She began visiting nursing homes.  She has compassion for those who are hurting which led her to begin performing at StevensHospital.  That hospital has very few young patients so she also began performing at Seattle.  Once she found the venues that matched her loves, she began developing the skills required for those types of performances.  She is excellent at improvised one-on-one interactions.  She has not developed advanced technical magical skills but she has great audience interaction skill.  She also loves animals and has developed several routines with animal puppets and toys as characters.  She has the skill to bring animal puppets to life.  For one of her routines, performed in a hospital waiting room, she uses a small plastic magic drawer box.  She explains that she keeps Speedy, her pet mouse, in the box.  She opens the box, removes the mouse, and soon the kids believe he is alive.  Sometimes they line up waiting for their turn to pet Speedy.  She returns Speedy to the box, closes the drawer, and then opens it again to check on Speedy.  He is gone because he escaped.  Soon she has the kids helping her search for Speedy.  The kids look under the seat cushions and in every other possible hiding place.  In the end she discovers that Speedy has snuck back into his box where he is safe and sound.  The magic effect is a simple vanish and reappearance, but through her interactions with her audience she turns it into a masterpiece.
What do you love?  How can you incorporate that into your performances?  What venues best fit the things you love?  What skills do you have?  How can you incorporate them into your performances?  What skills would you like to develop further?

Joyful Noiseletter

The Joyful Noiseletter is published by the Fellowship of Merry Christians.  A quote I submitted was published in the current June-July 2009 issue.  It is one of my favorite quotes.  Tennyson Guyer said, "Humor is like changing a baby's diaper.  It doesn't permanently solve anything, but it makes things more acceptable for a while."
The Joyful Noiseletter is an excellent resource for anyone involved in a variety arts gospel ministry.  It contains cartoons, jokes, bloopers, and articles about making humor and joy part of a life of faith.  Subscribers receive permission to reprint material from the newsletter.  Each issue is published and delivered several months in advance so you receive the material in time to use it yourself.  For example, this current June issue, delivered in April, contains reflections on love, weddings, and marriage.  Here are some examples of ways I have used material from this publication.
One time I was helping plan a humor Sunday service and we reprinted a page of bloopers in the church bulletin.
I have also used material from the newsletter to create a humorous PowerPoint prelude that was projected before anothe clown worship service.
For another clown worship service, clowns took turns reading jokes that we had selected from the Joyful Noiseletter.
I have found the publication to be useful in my personal life as well.  The first day my mother was in hospice, I took a copy of the Joyful Noiseletter to the nursing home.  Family members read it and commented on it while we were sitting in vigil.  It was a great way to break the ice and relieve the tension of that time.  I also read part of it to my mother.  Although the effects of her stroke prevented her from responding, my siblings told me later that she visibly relaxed while listening to my voice.
The Joyful Noiseletter also leads you to other valuable resources.  For example, this issue has an excerpt from a book titled Do Vegetraians Eat Animal Crackers? And Other Questions You Might Not Think To Ask compiled by Robert Bimler.  This book of 1000 amusing questions is the type of material I have heard clowns and emcess perform.  For example, "If a mime gets arrested, do the police remind him he has the right to remain silent?"  I have gotten other useful books in the past through the Joyful Noiseletter and plan to order this one.
In addition, I just enjoy reading the Joyful Noiseletter.  It has added to the quality of my life.
For more information click on the link below.

Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter

The third issue of my Creativity For Entertainers newsletter was sent last week.  If you have subscribed and did not receive it, please use the preferences link at the bottom of this page to verify that Creativity is checked.  If it is, please contact me and I will try to determine what has caused the problem.
The Creativity For Entertainers newsletter is a free service for owners of my Creativity books.  It contains additional ideas, new resources, and corrections to the original text.  It is part of my effort to make the books as valuable a resource as possible for readers.  If you would like to see previous issues before deciding to subscribe, use the archive link in the right hand column to read them.  If you would like to subscribe, use the preference update link below and check Creativity.
Thank you for being a subscriber.  I am always interested in your questions and comments.
I hope to see many of you while I am on the road during the next couple of months.

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

Lecture Schedule
 April 25, 2009
Mid Illinois Magic Conference
Scottish Rite Cathedral
400 E. Perry Ave, Peoria, IL
A lecture on comedy writing that will be unique to this conference.
I will also perform a fifteen-minute act  in the public variety show.
Registration opens at 8 AM. 
The show begins at 7 PM.  
June 7-13, 2009
Clown Camp
La Crosse, WI
This is the 29th and final reqular year for this excellent educational program.
I will be performing one of the Staff on Stage shows and will be in the Staff Bits show the first evening.  My classes will be Trick Cartoons for Clowns, An Introduction to Comedy Techniques, Card Magic for Clowns, The Creative Process, and 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 

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