Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
May 4, 2009
Issue #330

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I would like to thank the Peoria Magic Ring for their outstanding hospitality during the Mid Illinois Magic Conference.  Thank you to the many Thought For The Week Subscribers who introduced themselves to me there.  
I would also like to thank Marty & Brenda Hahne and Duane & Mary Laflin for hosting the Magic Show Conference in Brason, MO.  It was an execptional educational event.  I am already planning to return next year to continue my own variety arts education. 
One of the unique features of this conference is the support it receives from entertainers appearing full time in Branson.  Kirby Van Burch offered conference partciipants special discounted tickets to his illusions show, and then invited us to his dressing room following the performance.  He graciously answered everyone's questions, told stories of his career and discussed his mentors, and taught a young mmember of our group how to perform one of his illusions.   Tickets to the Hammer/Barber Show were included in the conference registration.  After the performance, the stars met us at the conference center to talk with everyone.  The conference registration also included tickets to the Jin Stafford show.  Following his performance, Jim Stafford met with us in his theater to discuss showmanship and to share with us how he is planning to use magic illusions in his future performances.  Jim had secretly attended the Staff Show the day before at the conference center, and during his own performance he mentioned how impressed he had been by the show.  He promoted the art of magic and urged his audience members to see magic performances when ever they had the chance in their home towns.
I have added a new date to my lecture schedule  I will be joining Randy Christensen in presenting the Next Step Workshop in November.  This advanced workshop is for those serious about Gospel Clown Ministry who want to take the next step in improving their art, craft, and ministry.  I'll be including more information soon.
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Jim Stafford Joke
Creative About Creativity
Lecture Schedule

Thought For The Week 


May 4, 2009
 "I start the show by doing something to grab their (the audience) attention and impress them.  Then I try to get them to do something which is why I do the thing about raising hands.  Then I try to do something that seems like it might be the beginning of a friendship which is why I go down into the audience."  -- Jim Stafford
The recent Magic Show Conference in Branson, MO concluded with participants seeing a performance by Jim Stafford.  After the performance Jim met with the conference participants to talk with us and share some of the magic illusions he is preparing to add to his show.  Jim's show is not an illusion show as such.  What he does is try to provide experiences that his audience will enjoy.  He uses many kinds of special effects including a 3-D movie, a flying saucer that hovers over the audience, black light puppetry, and magic illusions.  He creates a sense of wonder and joy in his audience that makes them glad they spent some time with him.  Jim uses illusions as one of his tools to create an unforgettable experience for his audience.  Many magicians and clowns forget that illusions are just a tool to create something else.  They are content to demonstrate they can use the tool without considering what they can do with the tool.  They are like a carpenter demonstrating the ability to hammer a nail into a piece of wood without actually building anything from the wood.  Jim Stafford is a master craftsman who knows what he wants to create and how to select and properly use the tools he has available.
A show business adage is that you want to gain the audience's respect and attention right away.  You want to prove that the audience has made the right choice in choosing to see you perform.  If you can't do that, you may struggle through out the rest of your performance to connect with them.  Many magicians gain the respect of their audience by demonstrating their skill with a silent manipulation routine.  Comedians will do it using a joke that gets a big laugh.  Jim did it by playing a song that demonstrated his guitar playing virtuosity.
Jim is not content to just win the respect of his audience.  He wants to get them involved in the show.  The tool that he uses is to ask the audience a series of questions that can be answered by raising their hands.  For example, the first thing he says is, "Raise your hands if you are seeing me for the first time or have seen me before?"  Some, but not all, of the questions generate laughter.  By the time he finishes this routine everyone in the audience has raised their hand at least once, and everyone has laughed at something.
Jim then goes beyond getting the audience involved to developing a relationship with them.  His tool is to leave the stage while singing a song.  He shakes hands with people seated in the front row and on the aisles.  He starts off by just greeting them, and then he pauses in the song to direct some humorous comments towards audience members.  There is a feeling of improvisation about what he says, but I suspect that much of it is scripted.  During our discussion after the performance Jim commented on one of the jokes that could be considered a mild put down of an audience member.  He said that type of humor works for some people, but he has learned from experience it does not suit him.  However, he said this particular joke seems to work so he continues to use it. 
Jim's other comments after the show revealed that he pays attention to each detail and everything that he does during his show is carefully selected to provide the desired experience for the audience.  He even talked about how they are changing the lights on the flying saucer so beams will shine down on audience members giving them a more memorable experience.
What can you do to gain the respect of your audience members?  How can you involve audience members in your show by getting them to do something?  How can you establish a relationship with your audience?  What changes can you make in your show to make it a more enjoyable or more memorable experience for your audience members?  Are you content to demonstrate your ability to use variety art skills as tools?  What can you create by using those tools more effectively?

Jim Stafford Joke

You are handed a card when you enter the theater for the Jim Stafford Show.  The card has a space to sign up for information about shows at the theater.  It also has room to write an embarrassing experience or a joke.  The ushers collect these cards before the show.  Jim Stafford selects some of the cards to read during his performance.
I wrote one of my original jokes on a card and handed it in when the Magic Show Conference attended the Jim Stafford Show on Saturday May 2.  To my surprise and delight, Jim decided to read my joke.  I will always remember the thrill of hearing a comedian of Jim's stature performing a joke I had written and listening to the audience laughter.  That segment is just one more way Jim makes his audience a part of his show and creates happy memories that will last a lifetime.
Here is the joke that Jim read, "What do you call somebody who makes high tech communication devices? -- A blackberry cobbler."
After the show I had a brief opportunity to talk to Jim in private about the joke.  He said he liked it because it dealt with technology making it topical.

Creative About Creativity

Customers have shared with me some of the creative ways they have been reading the books in my Creativity For Entertainers trilogy.  The books are not ones that you would sit down and read quickly from cover to cover like a novel.  They are something that you would study a section at a time like a text book.
One man asked me if I had heard of Tuesdays with Morey.  He told me that he spends Mornings with Charlie.  He said, "I keep a copy of one of your books in the room where I try to sit down at least once a day."  I know other readers keep a copy available there as well.
One reader told me he keeps a copy in his car. Then if traffic is light and he arrives early for an appointment or for a booking he reads my book until it is time to go inside.
A father who home schools his children told me that they use my books to provide writing assignments.  Each section of my books ends with thought provoking questions.  Each day the kids read a section and then write out their answers to the questions.
A father of a large family told me that his youngest son was not old enough yet to read my books on his own.  However, his son thought it was unfair that his older brothers got to learn from my books.  The boy requested that his father read him a section from one of my books each night instead of telling him a bed time story.
One customer purchased two sets of books, a paper back set and a hard cover set.  He is using the paper back as a work book.  He underlines passages, writes in the margins, and does other things to record ideas.  He has placed the hard cover copies on a shelf in his library to preserve and consult as reference books.
A woman contacted me to say her husband had purchased my Creativity For Entertainers trilogy.  Although she is not an entertainer some of his comments about what he was reading aroused her curiosity.  She started reading my books and was able to apply the information to her career.
To read what others have said about the books click on the link below.

Thank you for being a subscriber.  I am always interested in your questions and comments.
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I hope to see you down the road.

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

Lecture Schedule
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. 
 November 4-8, 2009
Next Step Workshop
This is an advanced workshop for those serious about Gospel Clown Ministry.  More details will be available soon.
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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