Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
September 7, 2009
Issue #346

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I know that this is a busy week for many entertainers so I'll keep my introduction and this issue short.
Remember that you can respond to me directly about anything related to this newsletter, or with questions or comments about entertainment in general.  I will reply to everything, although you will sometimes need to be patient.  I try to take occasional mini-vacations when I do not check email.  I have enjoyed some good email conversations with subscribers in recent weeks.  In addition to hitting the reply button on this newsletter, you can also send me something by reqular mail at P.O.Box 82165, Kenmore, WA 98028.
Earlier this year I offered to send a complimentary copy of Charlie's Contemplation's with each order of lecture note booklets that I received from a Thought For The Week subscriber.  That publication is now out of print.  I sent the last one with an order last week.  My special clearance sale offer for Jest In Time is still in effect but there are only six more copies of that publication available and then it will be out of print.
The History Trivia archive has been popular so I have added it to the quick link list on the right.  That way you will always be able to access it from any newsletter issue.
Have a wonderful week,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
More Than One Right Answer
Jest In Time
Theatrical Term
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

September 7, 2009

"Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." - Dr. Samuel Johnson
You don't have to know something yourself if you know somebody who does.  I am the official World Clown Association Historian, but I am not the only clown / variety arts historian.  For many years I have corresponded with others who know more about specific aspects of clown history than I do.  For example, Debbie O'Carroll is very knowledgeable about the history of women in entertainment so I contact her when I have questions on that topic.
I do the same thing in my personal life.  If I need to make a home repair or do something else that I have never done before, my first step is to try to figure out who may have done it and ask them for their advice.  If I don't know anybody personally who has the knowledge, I ask friends if they know anybody who might have the information I am seeking.
One of the best people to ask is the reference librarian at a public library.  The librarian may not know the answer to your question, but will have a general idea of where to look.  Frequently they have directed me to a book that had the exact information that I needed.  For example, I knew that Emmett Kelly had appeared in a production of an opera by Smetana titled "The Bartered Bride."  When I asked the librarian about it, she immediately led me to an opera encyclopedia which had a plot synopsis for "The Bartered Bride."  I learned that the opera includes a scene set in a circus which would have inspired Emmett's appearance.
Reference librarians also know creditable web sites.  (There is a lot of misinformation on the internet because web sites do not have to be fact checked before they are posted.)  Carole and I both enjoyed reading Jan Karon's Mitford book series and Phillip Gulley's Harmony book series.  I asked the reference desk if they could recommend something similar.  The librarian quickly checked two web sites created for libraries and printed out a recommended reading list.
Even if I knew what internet resource to use, I may not be able to access them.  For example, the New York Times archive is a very valuable resource that is a premium service requiring a subscription fee.  My local library system has subscribed to this service for their patrons and I have free access using my library card number as my password.  That allows me to use an easy search program to read, in digital format, any article or advertisement that has ever appeared in that newspaper.  I have made some interesting discoveries from this resource.  For example, Marcello Mello sent me a copy of a 1934 German postcard showing Toto (Armando Novello) with his miniature taxi cab.  That is a decade before Lou Jacobs began performing his miniature car act.  However, I did not know how early Toto had started using his car.  Searching the New York Times archive I found a review of the September 2, 1929 Palace Theater performance.  The reviewer wrote, "A fair share of the bill's honors go to Toto, that seasoned veteran of the music halls, whose pantomime assuredly places him in any list of leading clowns.  He still makes his entrance in that miniature taxicab into which it seems that no human being could possibly be squeezed..."  I assume that means Toto began using his miniature car sometime in the early 1920's.
Another valuable resource is the interlibrary loan system.  If your local library does not have a book that you are looking for they can borrow it from another library in the system.  This allows you to read rare or expensive books that you would not otherwise be able to obtain.
When you need information, who do you know that might have it?  What book or web site might have the information?  Where is the nearest library to you with a reference librarian?  What special internet resources does your library make available to patrons?  Is your local library part of the interlibrary loan system?  How do you request a loan?


More Than One Right Answer

Last week's history trivia question had more than one right answer.  We tend to stop looking when we think we have found the right answer, but in entertainment there is often more than one right answer.
Sometimes I think my right answer has to be the only one, and if others have a different answer they have to be wrong.  I have to keep reminding myself that they might also be right.  Often their idea, or a combination of ideas turens out to be best.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to keep looking for additional right answers after I have found one.  Often the fourth or fifth right answer is the best.  When you have more than one right answer you can apply the Goldilocks principle by comparing them to each other until you have found the one that is just right.
You can read more about having more than one right answer in Creativity For Entertainers Volume Two: Creative Techniques and Tools.

Jest In Time Clearance 

Jest In Time: A Clown Chronology is going out of print.  I will eventually be offering an new edition, however it won't be ready for at least a year.  There are six copies remaining.  Once they are sold this publication will not be available in this format.  As a special offer to Thought For The Week subscribers you may purchase one of these copies for $8 plus postage and handling.
 Buy Now

Theatrical Term - Batten

A batten is a pipe suspended over the stage for hanging curtains, drops, lights, and other set pieces.  Some are fastened in place while others can be raised and lowered using a counterweighted rope and pulley system.  (A few theaters now have a computer operated moterized system.)  An electrical batten is one containing electric connections for use with lights and motors.
The circus equivalent is called a crane bar.  Aerial equipment like a trapeze is then hung from the crane bar.  Usually a crane bar is raised by pulleys attached to the canvass near the poles.  A block and tackle system is used to guy out the crane bar holding it steady.  A crane bar can be a pipe with rings welded to it for hooking ropes onto that is used by a single act.  It can also be a more substantial girder used for lighting instruments and more than one aerial act.
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.
April 29 - May 1, 2010
Branson Magic Bonanza
Branson, MO
I will be there with a dealer table.
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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