Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
June 29, 2009
Issue #336

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I know that I have several new subscribers.  This week's Thought is related to last week's.  You can always use the arcive link on the right to read back issues.
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In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Being A Vendor
Article by Bruce Johnson
Theater Term
Fort Lewis Freedom Fest
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

  June 29, 2009

 "There is a difference between imitating a good man and counterfeiting him." - Benjamin Franklin
"Whomsoever you follow, howsoever great he might be, see to it that you follow the spirit of the master and not imitate him mechanically." - Mohandas K. Gandhi
Duane Laflin has been a tremendous influence upon me.  I have learned a lot about showmanship and magic with silk scarves from him.  I have developed many routines that were inspired by his routines.  I have tried hard to not become a Laflin clown but to use what I have learned from him to express my own personality.  Several years ago I performed in a public outreach show at a clown ministry conference.  After the performance a lady approached me and said, "You remind me a lot of Duane Laflin."  My heart sank thinking she had recognized the origin of my routines.  She continued, "You both present clear messages and what you do is firmly grounded in the words of the Bible."  I was relieved.  She didn't recognize specific routines.  She had recognized qualities in Duane's performances that I admire and have tried to make a part of mine.
In the mid-1980's the Los Angeles PBS station rebroadcast the Jackie Gleason Show, also known as the American Scene Magazine.  It was on this show that Jackie first introduced Ralph Kramden in the Honeymooners sketches.  He also performed other characters on the show including Al the Bartender, Reginald Von Gleason the Third, and the Poor Soul.  (All of these characters can be seen in Christmas Party episode included in the DVD titled The Honeymooners Lost Episodes Volume 3.)  I was particularly impressed by his silent Poor Soul character.  That summer when I was working at Raging Waters I sometimes realized that I was moving like the Poor Soul while performing certain routines.  What I particularly admired about the character was his gentleness.  That is what I wanted to incorporate into my performances.  I seldom move like the Poor Soul anymore, but some recent comments confirmed that I have captured his gentle spirit.
Another person I greatly admire is a Japanese magician named Fukai.  Three years ago I purchased a Dancing Cane from him at the Magic Show Conference.  I bought the prop on the first day of the conference.  Throughout the rest of the weekend he would coach me in performing with the cane.  When the dealer tables were open, he would show me a step in operating a dancing cane.  I would practice what he showed me and then return when the dealer room was open again.  He corrected things I was doing wrong before they became a habit that would be hard to break, encouraged me, and when I was ready he would show me the next step.  By the end of the four day conference I had mastered the cane well enough that I was confident I would be able to develop a routine with the prop.  I try to follow his example when I have a dealer table.  When somebody purchases one of my packet magic effects, I demonstrate how to perform it.  I ask them to practice the effect on their own and come back to me if they have any questions.  Then I work with them one-on-one to be sure they can perform the effect when they go home. 
I am amazed by Fukai's creativity.  I have heard others express a similar opinion.  Yet, when you talk to Fukai he tells you about other magicians who impress him with their creativity.  He is not insecure.  He knows he is creative.  However, he remains a great appreciator of other magicians.  That is something I try to maintain myself.
The person I admire the most of all is my father.  I have copied many of his qualities.  He is committed to lifelong learning.  He was a school teacher who earned Continuing Education Units his entire career and has always taken classes as he explored new hobbies.  He is very creative.  I learned my work ethic from him.  I also learned my commitment to family and friends from him.  My niece Julie claims that my father and I have the same sense of humor. 
Who do you most admire?  What is it that you like about them?  What is their spirit? How can you make that a part of your life?

Being A Vendor

Sales at my dealer table are important because that is what makes it financially possible for me to participate in some educational events.  However, I also consider time in the dealer room as an educational opportunity.  That is one time when I am scheduled to be at a specific location with what is basically free time.  People know they can find me to talk to then.
For example, during my Trick Cartoon class at the recent Clown Camp program in La Crosse I taught the participants how to turn the word "FUN" into a caricature of their clown character.  There were too many participants for me to be able to give individual assistance during the class period.  So several people came to the dealer room and I was able to work with them one-on-one and quickly help them find a solution for their unique appearance.
A phrase that some vendors use is "nothing is told until it is sold."  When you purchase a magic effect part of what you are paying for is knowledge of the method.  I respect the right of vendors to with hold that knowledge until it is paid for.  I never ask a vendor to reveal that before hand.  However, I have found that with my effects it works best to reveal the method to potential purchasers.  The effects that I sell rely on easy to perform methods that produce amazing results.  When somebody expresses doubt that they could perform one of the effects on my table, I show them how it is done so they can decide whether it is something they really can perform.  The majority of the time they do decide to purchase the effect.
I work hard preparing the instructions that go with my effects but it is often easier to learn something in person than from text and illustrations.  I have had people return with an item they had purchased from me at a previous event.  I am glad to spend some time showing them how to perform the effect individually.  Most often there is one minor point that makes the difference between being frustrated and being successful.
My goal at my dealer table is to build a long term relationship.  I would rather loose a sale now and have you purchase other items in the future than have a dissatisfied customer who won't come back.  At Clown Camp, a customer asked if it would be difficult to perform a specific effect while wearing gloves. I didn't know, so they got a pair of gloves and tried it after I showed them how the effect worked.  They decided that it was too difficult so they didn't purchase that effect.  However, I think they did return later to buy one of my lecture note booklets.
That is why the Northwest Festival of Clowns is listed on my lecture schedule even though I am not teaching an actual class session there.  I will be coaching the Red Nose Festival Competition which is an educational opportunity.  I will be a vendor there which is a potential one-on-one educational opportunity.  To reflect that, I am changing the name of the column from Lecture Schedule to Educational Opportunities.

Article by Bruce Johnson

An article titled History of the Clown of the Year appears in the June 2009 issue of Clowning Around published by the World Clown Association. 
This article details the origin and development of this award that is given out annually by the World Clown Association.  (Clowns of America International and the International Shrine Clown Association also honor a Clown of the Year.)
This is part of a series of articles that I will be writing as the official WCA Historian.  Some articles like this one will relate to the history of the organization.  Others will deal with clown history in general.
I would like to congratulate Aurora Krause on being named the 2009 WCA Clown of the Year. 

Theater Term -- House

The house is the part of the theater where the audience is seated. 
Therefore, the House Lights are the lights that shine down on the seats.  It is common to request that the House Lights be raised while selecting a volunteer to come up on stage and while the volunteer is returning to their seats.  (It is best to arrange a specific cue in advance so it seems to happen automatically rather than ask the lighting operator to change the lights during your show.)
It is conventional for the House to be opened a half hour before a performance so audience members can clear the lobby and take their seats.  Normally an announcement is made backstage that the House is open.  Once the House is open, there is no direct traffic between the stage and the House with two exceptions.  One exception is if an entertainer is doing preshow performances in the House.  Even then, the entertainer normally exits the House and uses a private entrance to backstage.  The other exception is when the only access to backstage is by going through the stage.
Fort Lewis Freedom Fest
People around the world subscribe to this newsletter.  I also have many subscribers who live in my region.  Those who live nearby may be interested in the Fort Lewis Freedom Fest.  This is an annual festival open to the public on the Fort Lewis military base between Tacoma and Olympia, WA.  I will be doing strolling entertainment at Freedom Fest on July 4 from 5-7 PM.  I will be either in the midway or near the craft booths.  If you come by, please say hello.

Creativity Newsletter

CharlieThe fifth isssue of my newsletter for owners of my Creativity For Entertainers books has been distributed.  Topics are Transforming Books, Spots Safety Message, Jimmy "Happy" Williams, Multicultural Entertaining, Uses of Velcroe, and a Volume Two Correction.
Remember anyone may read this newsletter, but it will mean the most if you own copies of the books because I refer to their contents.  You can read the back issues by using the archive link on the upper right.
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. 

Educational Opportunities
October 15-18. 2009
Northwest Festival of Clowns
 Olympia. WA
Red Nose Festival Competition Coach and Vendor
 November 4-8, 2009
Next Step Workshop
Wilmar, Minnesota
This is an advanced workshop for those serious about Gospel Clown Ministry.  It is limited to fifteen participants.
July 9-15, 2010
Clown Camp Singapore
Sixteen hours of classes over three days plus four days of performing in Singapore schools. 
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 do 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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