Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
December 7, 2009
Issue #355

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I know that this is a busy time of the year for many people, both professionally and personally.  For that reason I am keeping this week's issue short.
Have a great week, 
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Creativity Newsletter
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

December 7, 2009

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson
"To be an idiot, you have to be an expert.  It has to be so relaxed that it seems natural."  - Rex Nolan
"For failure to work as a tactic it must be fresh and never forced.  The trick is to make accidents seem as if they've never happened before." - Avner Eisenberg
Recently a family of entertainers attended a show where I performed my Torn and Restored Mismade Message routine.  In the routine I "accidentally" drop a decoy packet of paper that the audience thinks contains the torn pieces.  The daughter believed that I really had accidentally dropped the torn pieces.  Afterwards she told her mother, "I can't believe that he fooled me like that.  We perform that trick."
The reason that she was fooled is that the drop happens automatically during the action of opening the restored piece of paper.  (The method is described in detail in Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three.)  I never think about dropping the paper.  I am not sure the exact moment that it is going to fall so I am actually surprised by when it happens.  That little mental trick makes it seem to the audience that it is happening for the first time.  Because I have become an expert at performing the trick I am completely relaxed while performing it.
Why is it important to be relaxed?  Tension is one of the subtle cues that tell your audience that you are doing something.  They may not understand what you are doing, but they unconsciously realize you are making an effort.  Tension makes it seem forced and unnatural.
Muscle tightness is one of the effects of tension.  Each person has a different place that they send their tension.  I personally send it to my shoulders, as the muscles become tight my shoulders raise.  Counteracting this tightness is one way of releasing tension and relaxing.  So, if possible I do some brief stretching exercises back stage before a performance so I am relaxed when I start the entire show.  One of the stretches that I do is allow my head to drop forward.  Then with my arms hanging loosely I allow my spine to bend so my hands become close to the ground.  Something I learned from Karen Hull Montenaro is that when you are stretching there should be "no ambition."  She means that you shouldn't force the stretch, for example, trying to touch your toes.  When you force the stretch you increase tension instead of releasing it.  You can actually pull a muscle if you force a stretch too much.
A key is your breathing.  When we concentrate on a task or are tense we tend to hold our breath.  I am particularly aware of this when I am sitting in a dentist chair.  That is the opposite of what we should do.  In a mime class that I took in college I learned that our body fills with energy when we inhale and releases energy when we exhale.  Releasing energy is relaxing.  When I am stretching my back and shoulders, I consciously exhale which relaxes me allowing my muscles to lengthen so my hands come a little closer to the floor.  I take a breath. Then a long, slow exhalation releases tension and gravity pulls my hands a little lower.  I don't think about stretching.  I concentrate on relaxing and the stretch happens.
When my act is announced I do a long slow exhalation to relax, and then a quick inhalation just as I make my entrance so I am full of energy when the audience first sees me.  When I am aware that I am tense on stage, I purposely pause and take some deep breaths and exhale. 
The best way to be relaxed on stage is to prevent tension in the first place by being thoroughly prepared.  That provides confidence allowing you to relax making your actions believable.
When you need to do something accidentally, how can you make it happen automatically as part of the action of doing something else?  Are you surprised when it happens? 
Are you an expert at what you do?  Are you confident in your ability to perform the technical aspects of your show?  How can you relax while on stage?  What can you do before your entrance to help you relax? 
Are you aware of your breathing while performing?  How can you use an inhalation to be filled with energy at the right time?  How can you use an exhalation to relax at the right time?

Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter

A new issue of my Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter was sent on Thursday December 3.  It has been about three months since I had sent the latest issue of this occasional newsletter.  If you did not receive a copy and you wanted it, please be sure that option is checked on your profile using the link at the bottom of this newsletter.
My goal is to make my Creativity For Entertainers triology as valuable a resource as possible for you.  This newsletter is part of that effort. 
Anyone may subscribe for free, but you will benefit the most if you own my books.  For example, in this issue I present ideas for Christmas themed variations on a magic effect titled Will the Cards Match.  The directions for performing that effect are included in Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three.  I don't explain how to perform in in the newsletter.  Part of the reason for doing it this way is that I am protecting trade secrets by not revealing magic methods in the newsletter which is easily accessable on a public archive. 
In addition to Christmas ideas this issue contains a short article on a comedy technique called a Spoonerism.  One of the examples in the chapter on utilizing checklists in Creativity For Entertainers Volume Two is a list of comedy techniques copied from my book titled Comedy Techniques For Entertainers.  That book is out of print.  Since readers may not be familiar with the term spoonerism, I decided to expalin it in the newsletter.  I use feedback from readers in planning the content of my newsletters.  If there is enough positive response to the article on spoonerism I may include short articles on comedy techniques in future issues of my Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter.
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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