Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
November 16, 2009
Issue #352

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

The Next Step intensive workshop in Wilmar, MN was a great event.  I enjoyed working with Randy Christensen on the educational content.  Except when I needed time to prepare the classes that I was giving, I sat in on Randy's classes.  He shared some information and ideas that were new to me so I took many notes.  It was great to experience how what we had to offer dovetailed together and we were able to build upon what each other had to say.  
We had a great group of nine participants who were eager to learn.  The acts in progress that we coached were already strong so it was a matter of doing some fine tuning and discovering some additional options.  Some of those acts were included in the Sunday Childreen's Worship Service and it was encouraging to see some of our suggestions put into use. 
I would like to thank the staff and congregation of the Wilmar Assembly of God for their hospitality.  Karen, Randy's wife, and Bev, a member of the congregation, supplied us with meals and healthy snacks during our time together.
Now after a busy year of trips for business and family matters I am looking forward to being home for a while.  One of the things I will be doing is updating my web site.  I will be adding some new products and trying to make it easier for you to order things online.
Remember that you can use the educational opportunities column to keep track of where you can see me.
Have a great week, 
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
In Memory -- Bonnie Donaldson
Article by Bruce Johnson
Circus Lingo
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

November 16, 2009

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson
"Mentally, fallow is as important as seedtime.  Even bodies can be exhausted by over cultivation."  - George Bernard Shaw
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a
waste of time." -- J. Lubbock
If you continually plant the same crops in a field you begin to experience diminishing returns because the nutrients that the crop requires become depleted.  To prevent this fields are sometimes allowed to lie fallow without any crops being planted so the soil has a chance to recover.  (In Leviticus chapter 25 the Hebrews were ordered to let their fields lie fallow every seven years.)  At other times plants are rotated.  For example, many plants require nitrogen to prosper.  Those plants are alternated with plants like beans that take nitrogen from the air and store it in the ground.  The beans prepare the soil for the other plants that require nitrogen.
The same is true mentally.  If you try to generate ideas all the time you deplete your inspiration and creative energies.  You need to let your mind lie fallow at times so that it can recover.  That can be walking along a beach, watching a football game, going to a movie, playing a card game with others, or another activity that does not require great concentration.  Taking time off is not a waste of time.  It is time spent preparing yourself mentally for your next task.
Sometimes you need to rotate tasks.  Sorting and filing papers is a challenge for me.  I would rather be writing something new.  Yet, I know that if I don't take the time to get reorganized I can't be creative efficiently.  So, I'll force myself to do some organizing and then switch to something different that I find more enjoyable.  When I have a mental block on a writing project, I'll switch and do some chores that I know need to be done around the house.  Then I am able to make progress when I return to the writing project.
You also need to rotate your sources of inspiration.  If you look in the same place for ideas all the time, eventually you use up the available ideas. One of the reasons that I like going to Branson, MO for a magic conference is the number of theaters offering live performances.  I can see a wide variety of shows ranging from Broadway type production numbers to country music to retrospectives of music from previous eras to comedy to equestrian displays.  I do see magic shows while I am there, but I often get more inspiration from attending the other style shows. 
I also like to attend different types of performances near my home.  This past weekend I attended Raven and the Box of Daylight, a production by the Carter Family Marionettes, at the NorthwestPuppetCenter.  Puppets carved in the Nuu-chah-nulth tribal style were used to tale a NorthwestCoast legend of how Raven, the trickster, brings light into the world.  I found it to be very inspiring.  I was impressed with how the Carter family has built a permanent performance space.  I loved the artistry displayed in the puppet heads and costuming.  I found it interesting that hand puppets were used for some scenes, marionettes were used for others, and both types were used in a few scenes.  I was fascinated by how the Carter Family used the Nuu-chah-nulth culture as inspiration for their performance.  I am interested in the Native culture and hope to eventually incorporate it into a performance myself.  I don't know what that inspiration will lead to, but I am glad that I experienced it.
I find that new environments are often stimulating.  Last week I visited the Mall of America with Randy Christensen and was very impressed by their LegoLand. 
How can you allow your mind to lie fallow in preparation for your next task?  How can you rotate tasks?  How can you rotate your sources of inspiration?

In Memory -- Bonnie Donaldson

After a five-year bout with cancer, Bonnie Donaldson passed away on November 14, 2009.  I know that many of my subscribers have been to Clown Camp and may remember her from there.  She was on the Clown Camp staff for many years and could often be found in the dealer room making badges.  (She made my unique name badge for me.)  Her classes, including using music and storytelling, were well received.  She was honored on the 2002 Clown Camp logo as Squiggles, her whiteface character.  She also performed as Grace, an elderly female character.  Both characters were charming and very funny, although Grace was my personal favorite  She was known by other staff members for her willingness to do anything she could to assist people behind the scenes.  Her instructional experience included being a headliner for the Northwest Festival of Clowns.  She is survived by her son Bruce (Stacie).  I know that Bonnie and Bruce were very proud of each other.

Article By Bruce Johnson

An article I wrote titled Feasting on God's Word about scripture reading was published in the October/ November issue of Advance.  Advance is a newsletter "promoting excellence in gospel magic and creative ministry" edited and published by Duane Laflin.  That issue also includes an object lesson I wrote using three juggling balls, a jar, and some pop corn.  It is a lesson that I used when I was a Bible Study Fellowship Children's Leader.  Advance is a free newsletter which you can request by sending Duane a message at

Circus Lingo -- High Seating

Every thing a clown does is not necessarily funny.  Sometimes clowns are asked to help with practical matters. 
Many outdoor tented circuses have general seating in bleachers.  When there is a large crowd, it can be difficult for people to get to available seats in the center of a section.  In that situation, the clowns may be asked to help encourage people to move to the higher seats and to slide over to the center of the section.  That makes available seats easier to see and to reach.  This process is known as high seating.
One of my favorite methods to high seat the audience was to offer my arm to a mother or grandmother and then escort her to a seat.  Often I used my feather duster to clean off the seat plank for her.  That allowed me to stay in character, get some smiles and occasionally a few laughs, and do what was required for the success of the show.  I noticed something interesting.  When a family wandered along the hippodrome track looking for seats, people already seated ignored them.  If I was escorting the family, those in the stands would signal to let me know how many seats were available next to them.
Circus Kirk used seat boards that were painted blue.  If the attendance was small people tended to sit on one row and put their feet on the row in front of them.  During the two seasons that I toured with that show, they used my character to help with a high seating announcement.  The Ringmaster would say, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remember that the blue boards are for seating only and the yellow boards are for your feet."  I would find a place where I would pretend to be hiding in view of the audience, for example behind a center pole.  There would be a murmer in the audience.  The Ringmaster would continue, "What?  There aren't any yellow boards.  Charlie the Clown where are you?"  I would sheepishly step out into the Ringmaster's view.  "Charlie, did you forget to put out the yellow boards?"  I would reluctantly nod.  "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sorry that Charlie forgot to put out the boards for your feet.  In order to make more room for your friends and neighbors to join you, please let your feet dangle.  We will be starting the show in a few minutes, just as soon as we have gotten everyone seated You can help us by raising your hand if there is an available seat near you."  That little touch of humor took the sting out of the announcement, and people good naturedly complied.  We were usually able to quickly get the rest of the audience seated.
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
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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