Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
July 13, 2009
Issue #338

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

Last week's trivia question appeared to be popular so I am including another one this week.
I am always interested in your comments and questions.  Let me know what you think of this new feature.
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
A Sweet Deal
Infection Control
History Trivia Question
Theatrical Term
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

July 13, 2009

"A sticker is not something that you distribute.  It is a tool for creating an interaction that can become a memorable moment." - Angel Contreras
One of my joys over the past decade has been watching Angel's development as an entertainer. He was originally a very fine caricature artist.  I first met him in 1998 or 1999 when Richard Snowberg hired him to create caricatures of everyone on Clown Camp Staff for use in promotional material.  He created the 1999 Clown Camp logo depicting Don Burda.  Clown Camp begins with a Staff On Stage show featuring each person on staff performing an act.  Angel's first Staff On Stage act, performed in 1999, was simply demonstrating how quickly he could draw Don's caricature.  He did not perform as a character. 
Since then he has developed a very nice artist clown character and has combined other skills with his art.  This year he did an act where he drew a hat on a cardboard box.  He covered his head with the box and removed his outer shirt revealing that he was wearing a T-shirt with a face printed on it.  The mouth of the shirt was open, but by pleating the shirt Angel was able to make the mouth open and close.  In a very funny routine he danced around while the T-shirt lip synced to a song.  (The shirt is Angel's creation featuring his artwork and is available for purchase.)
Angel he has created a second clown character that reminds me of Poncho in the Cisco Kid movies.  He has used that character at Clown Camp charity auctions improvising hilarious routines as he displayed items up for bid.
Angel has used his artistic skill to create his own line of stickers.  At Clown Camp this year Angel, assisted by his wife Susan, taught a class on how to use stickers as an entertaining tool.  (I was able to attend part of his class.  Other demands on my time meant I missed the first half.  I wish I had seen the entire class.)  Here is an example of the type of things he taught.  He has a sticker shaped like a sheriff's star that says "Smile Inspector" in the center.  He put one of the stickers on and explained that he was the official smile inspector.  He asked people to smile for him, and then, imitating Billy Crystel, he exclaimed, "You look Mahvelous!"  After checking out several smiles, he selected somebody to deputize as another smile inspector.  He gave them three smile inspector stickers with instructions that they were to put one on and check out smiles until they found somebody they thought would make a great smile inspector.  Then the deputy was to deputize them and give them the two stickers, one to wear and one to give away.  The newest deputy then looked for somebody else to enlist as a smile inspector.  Angel explained that this is a great bit to do at an event where people don't know each other because it gives them an excuse for interacting and meeting each other.
Angel has a set of eye stickers.  I had previously seen people use them on balloon sculptures, and this year for the first time saw people adding them to origami animals.  Angel used the stickers to demonstrate the old vaudeville bit of turning your hand into a puppet by putting the eyes on the side of your first knuckle and using your thumb as the character's jaw.  He has also figured out two other places to put the eyes so he can turn his hand into three characters that can carry on a conversation.  (He had two of the characters perform a portion of Abbott and Costello Who's On First routine.)  Angel said he will demonstrate the puppets to kids and then give them stickers so they can turn their own hand into a puppet to play with after he has moved on to somebody else.
How can you use your variety arts skills as a tool to interact with others?  How can you turn that interaction into a memorable moment?
I was very impressed with the sticker class taught by Angel Contreras.  I highly recommend that you attend it if you have the chance.  I know one place where he will be teaching it is the NW Festival of Clowns.  I plan to attend the entire class then.  You will find more information on that in the Educational Opportunity column on the right.
For more information on Angel's products go to  

A Sweet Deal


I used one of Carole's ideas in the dealer room at the recent Clown Camp program.  I had a sign that said, "Shop Here For A Sweet Deal."  Beneath the sign was a box of York Peppermint Patties.  Each one had a smile face sticker attached.    (Carole put all the smiles on the candies for me.)  People visiting the dealer room were welcome to take one of the candies.  They turned out to be very popular and we distributed six bags of candy during the week.  The stickers were the mini size smile stickers available from Angel Contreras.
Carole had used the idea this spring during Nurses Appreciation week.  At Seattle Children's and at Steven's Hospital she passed out smile face mints to the nurses and thanked them for doing such a great job taking care of the patients.  You can't give out candy to patients in hospitals or residents in a nursing home because you don't know their dietary restrictions.  However, Carole will sometimes give candy to staff members with an appropriate comment.  She uses it as an excuse to interact with them. 

Infection Control

Caring Clowns are taught proper sanitary practices to prevent spreading infection from patient to patient.  However they are not the only ones who have to be aware of infection control.  You should use sanitary practices to prevent catching infections from audience members.  I have become particularly aware of this because of how I use handshakes in audience interactions.  (There is a chapter on comedy handshakes in my Charlie's Comedy Bits lecture note pamphlet.)
When I made my newest pair of tattered clown pants I included a small hidden pocket to hold a little bottle of Purel.  After a performance, I immediately clean my hands. 
I have noticed that when I am at a conference people frequently greet each other with handshakes.  If I have been shaking hands with many people I take a moment to discreetly cleanse my hands.
Patty Wooten said washing your hands is more effective than the alcohol based sanitizing lotions, but you don't always have a chance to wash your hands right away.  The sanitizing lotions are a good intermediate step to use until you have the opportunity to wash your hands.
What kind of sanitary practices can you take?  What kinds of infection control will protect your health when interacting with the public?

History Trivia

Click on what you think is the Correct answer to this question.
At Michael Jackson's memorial service his brother Jermaine sang "Smile."  That was reportedly Michael's favorite song and he performed it on the 1995 album titled HIStory -- Past, Present ,and Future. 
Who composed "Smile"?
(The answer links will remain valid until August 1.  After that date go to my trivia archive page to check whether your anwer is correct.)

Theatrical Term -- Proscenium Arch

The Proscenium Arch is the wall separating the stage from the seating area in some theaters.  It is like a frame around the stage picture.  It hides the edges of the curtains above and beside the stage.  In some theaters it is just a thin wall, but in others it can be quite thick as part of the acoustical design.  Curtains absorb sound but a think proscenium arch provides a solid surface for redirecting the sound produced by anyone standing within the arch.
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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