Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
August 17, 2009
Issue #343

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I started this newsletter for clowns, but have learned that I have many magicians among my subscribers.  I have some musicians who subscribe.  I have some subscribers who are lay people.  Welcome to everyone.  I will do my best to meet your diverse needs.  Remember that when this newsletter no longer is useful to you, you can use the Safe Unsubcribe link at the bottom to have your name removed from my mailing list.
My goal is to be the best resource for you that I can and to provide the best customer service that I am capable of.  You will read more about this in an article below.
Thank you to those who have been spreading the word about my newsletters.  Some have recommended it in emails sent to friends, and others have been writing about it in their local club newsletters.
The history trivia questions have been popular.  I am including another one this week.  If you use the newsletter archives, the trivia links in the previous issues have been changed.  To get the answers for those questions you need to visit the History Trivia page on my web site.
Have a great week, 
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Customer Service
Article by Bruce Johnson
History Trivia
Circus Lingo
Public Performance
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

 August 17, 2009

"Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life."  -- Arnold Schwarzenegger
Debbie O'Carroll, one of the Thought For The Week subscribers, sent me a message last spring. She wrote, "I just finished teaching a six-week magic workshop in our local elementary school's after-school program. I donated my time and the money they earned was used for scholarships. It was a great experience.  For our final show, we did the cups and balls, grandmother's necklace and Mark Wilson's Vanishing Mummy. It was a great problem solving experiment for the kids to vanish a person.  It is so easy for us to donate a class or a show to our communities and I, like you, get a lot out of it! Especially in these hard times."
Debbie is a busy professional entertainer who travels to perform.  She does not charge for performances in her own community.  Instead she uses the funds raised at the performances to support scholarship programs.  She does choose which local performances she agrees to accept.
I do charge for performances in my own community because that is a major market for me.  However, I donate my time and efforts to some local causes that I believe in.  For example, I perform shows for the Seattle Ronald McDonald House.  Carole said she can tell that I really have fun doing those performances.  They are something that I eagerly look forward to.
How can you give back to your community?  What policy will work for you in deciding when to donate performances?  How else can you contribute to your community? 
I have benefited greatly from being an entertainer.  I have had some wonderful opportunities and been blessed by meeting great people who I am fortunate to consider my friends.  One way I give back to the world of entertainment is to write for variety arts magazines.  I began by contributing articles to my local clown club newsletter and then sending an occasional short article to an appropriate magazine.  I first met many of my friends through the pages of magazines that carried our articles.  Every magazine for entertainers is eager for new contributors.  I think every entertainer has at least one great idea they can share in writing with others.  To get started pretend that you are writing a letter to a friend describing your idea.
I am a member of my local International Brotherhood of Magicians ring.  I have not been able to attend many meetings because of scheduling conflicts.  However, when I do attend I usually take something along that I can teach to others during the Open Mike portion of the meeting.  Our ring sponsors a young magicians group.  Earlier this year I donated a lecture to them on performing magic with silk scarves.  When I am an instructor at an educational clown program that includes a Junior Joey program for young clowns, I donate a free lecture to that program.  By helping to encourage young performers I hope to inspire one of the potential stars of the future.  Even if the youngsters don't continue in entertainment I know that performing teaches them valuable life skills.
How can you give back to the field of entertainment?  What organizations do you belong to?  Can you fill a volunteer position that matches your interests and abilities?  Is there something you know that you can share with others at a meeting or other event? 
If you were assigned to write a single article about being an entertainer, what topic would you choose?  Which publication would be a good place for that article to be published?  Set yourself a deadline to complete the article and submit it to the editor.

Customer Service
My goal is to provide the best customer service within my ability.  Sometimes there is a glitch.  Last week a customer contacted me wanting to know when he would receive his order that he had sent through PayPal.  I had not received the order and PayPal had not transferred the funds.  We worked it out and I have sent him his order.
I have now responded to every order that I have received.  If you have sent an order, and not received a reply, please let me know. 
In the future if you send an order and I don't respond in a few days, please follow up by contacting me so I can correct the situation.

Article by Bruce Johnson

The current issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association, contains an article that I wrote on the Circus World Museum and Library.  The article is part of my WCA Historian column.  The Circus World Museum is a wonderful educational resource for entertainers.

For more information on the World Clown Association go to 

For more information on the Circus World Museum go to

History Trivia

Click on your answer to see if you are correct.
The first feature length comedy film produced in the United States was called Tillie's Punctured Romance.  Who was the star of this film
(These links will be valid until September 1, 2009)

Circus Lingo - Peanut Pitch

In the circus a Pitch is a commercial announcement.  For example a Coloring Book Pitch is an announcement that Coloring Books are on sale.  The pitch may include a special incentive.  When I was with the Carson & Barnes Circus in 1981, I sold coloring books.  Part of the pitch was that I would be in the menagerie area after the show to autograph coloring books. 
Often a pitch is used to fill a brief rigging break that is too short for a clown routine.
A special traditional pitch is the Peanut Pitch.  The candy buthers are spread out around the tent with cases of bagged peanuts.  The announcement is made that some of the bags contain a special prize coupon that can be redeemed for a free balloon.  On many shows a clown stands in the center of a ring with a bunch of balloons to reward the winners.  The balloons are on the end of sticks.  There is a special technique to spinning the balloons to make them look more exciting.  I was the clown distributing the balloons with the Carson & Barnes Circus in 1981.  Sometimes the kids got so excited about the possibility of winning a balloon that they would spill the contents of their bag out on the ground looking for the prize ticket.  The Peanut Pitch can be continued for quite a while by a good talker so it is often used to fill a long break.  That season the Peanut Pitch occured while the arena for Pat White's lion and tiger act was dismantled.
The Peanut Pitch is the circus version of a money maker in vaudeville, the Candy Pitch.  In the theater, boxes of candy would be sold.  Some of the boxes contained a prize like a watch.  The lucky winners would jump up and display what they had received.  Sometimes the best prizes were given to audience plants who would return the prize at the end of each performance.
The 1981 Carson & Barnes Circus Peanut Pitch was actually a type of candy pitch.  Concession manager David Rawls decided to sell packages of Fiddle Faddle.  At first the candy company balked at supplying a show on the road.  However, the Peanut Pitch was so successful that the Carson & Barnes Circus became the company's largest distributor.  The next season David decided to return to bags of peanuts as a way of continuing tradition.
Public Performance 
The majority of my performances are for private groups.  I try to keep a list of public performances on my web site so people who would like to see me in performance know where that is possible.  A recent booking that is not yet on my web site is the Stevens Hospital Family Health Fair.  It is this Saturday August 22 at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, WA.  The fair will be in the food court area as well as the patio outside the food court.  Carole and I will be doing strolling entertainment from noon until 3 PM.  I will be doing a variety show on the outdoor stage from 3:30 until 4:00 PM.  I invited my subscribers in this region to come out and see a smapling of what my performances are like.
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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