Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
July 27, 2009
Issue #340

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I appreciate the many loyal Thought For The Week subscribers who have been reading my articles for many years.  I have decided to let one of my publications go out of print and have reduced the price upon the remaining copies.  I am making this reduced price available first to Thought For The Week subscribers.  It is limited to the copies on hand.  If any copies are left over, I will then make them available through my web site.  You can read more details below.
I am continuing to get new subscribers.  Thank you to everyone who is helping to spread the word about my newsletters. 
Welcome to those new subscribers.  You can use the archive link to read the back issues from this year.  I compiled The first 52 Thought For the Week articles into a booklet titled Charlie's Contemplations.  As a bonus for Thought For The Week subscribers I am including a complimentary copy of this booklet when you order any of my other publications.  If you order Jest In Time I will automatically include it.  If you order any other publication off my web site, send me an email requesting this bonus and I will be glad to include it.
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Jest In Time
New Article
Circus Lingo
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

July 27, 2009

 "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." -  Pablo Picasso
I had a hard time getting started on this week's article.  Last night I came up with what I thought was a great idea.  However, when I tried to write it out this morning it didn't pan out.  I had a great starting place, but then I hit a roadblock.  I couldn't find my way to a conclusion. 
I reread some other articles that I had previously started for this newsletter.  Often taking a fresh look at such beginnings leads me to discover the path to completing them.  Sometimes an old project remains uncompleted, but it inspires another related idea.  This time the flaws that originally caused me to abandon those articles remained and I did not see a solution.  No new ideas came to mind as I read over them.
I keep an idea file of quotes that might work as the introduction of a Thought for the Week.  I browsed the file but nothing stood out.  I tried selecting some quotes at random hoping that serendipity would inspire a possible article.  I tried searching for specific key words that I thought I might want to write about.  Nothing really appealed to me.
It was tempting to give up, but if I give up when inspiration is hard to find it becomes easy to make excuses so I never do anything. 
I kept working.  I started and abandoned a couple of articles.  Then I remembered that there was a quote in my file about inspiration requiring work.  I searched for it, found it, and finally had a topic for this article.
Aleksey, my granddaughter, has developed an interest in fish.  She needed an aquarium stand.  I was fixing up an old one for her yesterday.  She asked if I could make a shelf on top.  I wanted to secure the shelf in place, but I wasn't sure how.  I didn't want to drill through the metal of the stand.  I started cutting the wood for the shelf even though I had not been inspired about how to secure it.  While I was cutting the wood, I realized that I could put screws in alongside the rails of the stand so that the screw heads would overlap the metal holding it in place.  When I started to attach the screws I discovered that the head of the screws I had available were not large enough.  They would keep the board from sliding sideways, but the board could still be lifted up.  Finally I realized that if I put washers on the screws that would lock the wood down onto the metal stand.  That worked perfectly.  I would not have been inspired to do that if I had tried to reason it all out first.  I had to start working and then the experience triggered that idea.
I have begun working on some booklets for Cub Scouts.  I decided to do a book of simple skits and short comedy bits.  I got my initial comedy experience performing skits at Pack meetings and Troop campfires.  Perhaps a member of the current generation of scouts will become an entertainer.  I realized that some of the material in my Comedy Blackouts booklet would work well for scouts, but it would need to be edited down to make it appropriate for that age.  (A cub scout cannot do a routine referring to their wife.)  Comedy Blackouts is one of my most popular publications, but I have not updated it since it was originally published in 1991.  While selecting material from the current edition to include in the Scout book I realized that I could improve Comedy Blackouts by reorganizing the material contained in it.  So I have decided to eventually produce a second edition of that booklet.  I probably would have never been inspired to do that if I had not taken a fresh look at it while working on the other project.
If you wait for inspiration before starting work, you will never begin.  If you begin working, inspiration will often come to you.
What projects do you have in progress?  How can they inspire additional projects?  If you can't see the entire solution, what steps can you take now while you are waiting for inspiration?  What work can you do now?  How can you motivate yourself to work while waiting for inspiration?

Jest In Time - Clearance Sale

I have trouble remembering names and dates which is a real problem for a clown historian.  I have a personal research library of over 400 books that I can consult when I need to verify a fact.  However, I got tired of always looking through my books searching for an important date.  So, in 1992, I collected all the dates and trivia facts that I knew and put them together into a timeline of clowning.  (The first date in the book is 1818 BC.  The last date in the 53 page chronology is the death of Lou Jacobs on September 13, 1992.)   Now when I need a date I check the timeline.  So others could also benefit from the work that I put in, I published it in book form titled Jest In Time.  The feedback that I received from purchasers was that they found it fascinating.  Many read it through to get an understanding for how clowning has developed through the centuries.  They said they got a new appreciation for the depth, breadth, and importance of clowning which resulted in a renewed pride in our art form.  I have heard from many people that it has been a valuable reference work for when they need to verify something.  Instructors have told me that it was especially helpful. 
I have decided to let the paper version of Jest In Time go out of print.  My intention is to eventually prepare an updated electronic version.  One advantage of the electronic version is that you will be able to easily search for any name and find all of the dates connected to that person.  For example, searching for the name Otto Griebling will tell you that he produced a version of a clown car on the Cole Bros. Circus in 1937.  (That is the earliest date that I have found for a performance of the routine.)  One disadvantage of the electronic version is that you will find mainly what you search for.  With the print version you read other information seeking the answer to your original question and along the way may make unexpected discoveries that lead to additional questions and sources of inspiration.
As a special offer to Thought For The Week subscribers I am making autographed copies of the original print edition of Jest In Time available at the clearance price of $8.00 plus my standard shipping fee of $5.  This is your last chance to add this publication to your library.  This reduced price is not available on my web site yet, so you will need to purchase it using the button below.  (The regular price of $15 plus shipping is still listed on my web site.)  This offer is limited to the copies that I have on hand.  When they are sold out this publication will not be available in this format again.


Buy Now

New Article

An article that I wrote on the history of National Clown Week appears in the July 2009 issue of Clowning Around published by the World Clown Association.  This is part of my column as WCA historian.  For more information on this organization go to

Circus Lingo -- Pad Tent

In an outdoor tented circus the dressing room was called the Pad Tent.  This comes from the early circus era when the show was built around equestrian acts.  Some of the acts put wide pads on the back of the horses to improve footing for acrobatics.  The center of a tent, where the roof was the highest, was used to store the pads.  (I am not sure, but it may also have been where the pads were placed on the horses.)  The sides of this pad area were partitioned off with canvass and used as dressing room areas.  One side was for the men and the other side was for the women.  The extreme outside edge of the men's dressing room was used as Clown Alley, the clown's dressing room, so the clowns could duck under the canvass side wall to powder their make up outside.
When I toured with Circus Kirk in the mid-1970's we had a Pad Tent.  The front half of the tent was used as a waiting area.  The back portion of the tent was divided in half with canvass partitions to form a men's and women's dressing room.  The canvass blocked air flow so the Pad Tent could become extremely hot on summer days.  We compromised between comfort and privacy on those days by lowering the canvass part way.  When somebody was changing a costume everyone else paid them respect by turning their back to give them privacy.
Sometimes a stage performance requires a quick costume change.  In some theaters the dressing rooms are too far away to use to make the change in time.  In that situation performers will change costumes in the wings just out of audience sight.  The cast and crew will turn their back to allow them to make the change with dignity.
Thank you for being a subscriber.  I am always interested in your questions and comments.
Remember if you have missed an issue, you can read it by using the archive link in the right column.  If you want to change the address where you are receiving this newsletter, use the update profile link below.  If this newsletter no longer meets your needs, you can use the SafeUnsubscribe link to be permanently removed from my mailing list.  If you want to spread the word about this newsletter, you can use the forward email link below to send copies to others that you think might be interested.
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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