Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
October 5, 2009
Issue #348

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

There was no newsletter last week because I was in Sothern California on vacation. 
The North West Festival of Clowns will be held next week in Olympia, WA.
Patty Wooten was scheduled to be an instructor.  Unfortunately she was recently diagnosed with cancer and is beginning treatment.  My thoughts and prayers are with her.  Aurora "Bebop" Krause will be taking Patty's place.  I know Aurora from our mutual involvement in the World Clown Association.  (Aurora is the WCA President-elect.)  I also have worked with Aurora on the Clown Camp staff.  This will be her first time as an instructor in the North West.  I know that people who have not had a chance to meet her before will enjoy getting to know her.
Theresa "Pinky" Garret is one of the other headliners at the NW Festival of Clowns.  I have been honored to be invited to join Thereas and Angel Ocasio in presenting a clown worship service on Sunday October 18.
I will be there with my dealer table.  The dealer room is open throughout the festival, but during most instructional periods my table will be closed because I will be attending classes myself.  I firmly believe in continuing education.  However, I hope that Thought For The Week subcribers will stop by my table at other times to say hello.  Also, if you have purchased an item from me in the past and are having difficulty perfecting it, bring it to the festival and I will work with you one-on-one until you have mastered it.  I will have some new products that I am introducing at this festival as well.
Have a wonderful week,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Next Step Workshop
Circus Lingo
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

October 5, 2009

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."  - Joseph Addison & Richard Steele in The Tattler March 18, 1710
One goal of physical exercise is to make your body more flexible.  Reading, especially material that has a lot of humor or metaphors, increases your mental flexibility.  Studies have shown that humor increases mental flexibility because the majority of jokes cause you to think one thing and then the punch line jolts you into thinking something else.  Metaphors also cause you to form one mental image that shifts into a different image. 
That ability to shift images is a necessary element of creativity.  I have heard it said that creativity is looking at the same thing as everyone else and seeing something different.  In doing their research for designing the Ford Motor Company pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair, Walt Disney and John Hench visited a steel mill where sheet metal was made for cars.  They observed large red-hot metal ingots moved around on tracks of powered rollers.  Walt asked John Hench, "Do you think we could put some kind of seat on that type of conveyor, or some kind of arrangement for people to ride you think this thing would handle it?"  John Hench was sure it could be done and turned the project over to Roger Broggie, the head of the Disney Studios machine shop.  Broggie used the concept in creating the WEDway PeopleMover system that premiered at the World's Fair and was then installed at Disneyland.  Broggie attached each guest vehicle onto a large flat piece of metal that made contact with the rollers in the conveyor track.  The result was a simple system that rarely broke down.  (I recently learned about the development of the PeopleMover by reading Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show written by John Hench and Peggy Van Pelt.)
Another goal of physical exercise is strengthening your muscles.  Reading strengthens you mentally by giving you practice visualizing.  As you read a description you begin to picture it in your mind.  That is the advantage of written words over visual presentations.  If you watch a video or movie, you see the image that the production team has created for you.  When you read you create your own image.
Visualization is an important part of creativity.  I imagined that I was performing every routine I have created before I began the process of turning it into reality.  I visualized many different variations of the routine, until I thought I had a strong image of the best possible version.  It didn't cost anything to create all of those versions so I could easily experiment.  Then I began the process of figuring out how to physically perform what I had visualized.  The final product was never exactly what I visualized because I would make more discoveries as I worked with the actual props, but I couldn't begin without that vision to guide me.
Once I had the routine ready to go into performance, I would rehearse it in my imagination, especially late at night.  Studies have shown that visualized rehearsal can be almost as effective as physical rehearsal.  The pathways in your brain are reinforced whether you are visualizing or actually performing an action.
That is why you should do two different types of reading.  The first type of reading is for information and inspiration.  I read a lot of books about creativity and about variety arts skills.  That provides the technical information I need to turn my visions into reality.  The second type of reading is for mental exercise.  I read a lot of mysteries, some science fiction, and other fiction.  I am convinced reading that material has strengthened my ability to be creative by improving my mental flexibility and strengthening my imagination.  That provides the visions to start with.
How often do you get mental exercise?  What reading will give you technical information?  What reading will increase your mental flexibility?  What reading will help you see images?  What can you read this week that will help you become a better entertainer?


Next Step Clown Ministry Workshop

Are you involved in Clown Ministry?  Would you like to improve what you do by receiving coaching in a small group environment?  Would you like to learn more about mime based movement and improvisation?  Would you like to explore the spiritual basis for what you do?

Then the Next Step Workshop may be for you.  Randy Christensen and I will be team teaching this intensive workshop November 4-8 in Wilmar, Minnesota.  Randy has asked all of the participants to bring something they are working on for performance.  Randy and I will help you identify your strengths and explore alternatives for connecting more deeply with your audience and communicating your message more effectively.
This workshop is limited to 15 participants but only five are currently registered.  The minimum number needed to conduct the workshop is nine.  Randy has announced that a decision will be made this week on holding the workshop as scheduled.  If you have been considering registering, do it now before it is too late.
For more information go to


Circus Lingo - Basket Animal

The costume that makes it look like you are riding an animal is called a basket animal. The name comes from the fact that in the early days the body of the animal was woven out of wicker like a basket.  In the most common version, the performers legs extend down through the animals body and are hidden by a blanket worn by the animal.  Dummy legs appear to the the legs of the performer sitting on the animal. 
I think an interesting variation in the early circus was "riding with grandma" performed on horse back.  The clown rode standing up, but it looked like he was sitting on the shoulders of an old woman sitting on the horse.  The performer's legs extended down through the torso of the dummy of an old woman.  Her dummy legs made it look like she was sitting astride the horse.  Dummy legs made it look the clown was riding on grandma's shoulders.  This was a parody of actual human pyramids that were performed on horses.
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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