Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
December 28, 2009
Issue #358

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I am the official World Clown Association Historian.  Part of my duties of that
 position is answering questions about clown history.  If you have any history questions, please send them to me.  I'll do my best to answer them, and they might be the inspiration for an article in Clowning Around published by the World Clown Association.  If I don't have the answer, I'll forward your question to another clown historian who may have the information.  Recently Jackie LeClaire provided me with some information to use in answering a question about Buzzy Potts.  That resulted in me learning some new things that I have added to my archives.
I hope that I will be adding a new event to the Educational Opportunities column.  I have made a verbal commitment to teach and perform at a regional convention and will be announcing it as soon as the contract has been signed.
Have a very happy and sucessful New Year,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Article by Bruce Johnson
Clowning Around Deadline
Theatrical Term
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

December 28, 2009

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

"Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future
generations."  -- George Bernard Shaw, Writer


I had the privilege of being in the final campfire of the 1969 National (United States) Boy Scout Jamboree held in Idaho.  My troop had been chosen at random to represent all the other troops and sit on stage near a camp fire.  Everyone had been given a candle when they entered the amphitheater.  At a command, my troop stepped forward and lit our candles from the campfire, and then we lit the candles of the scouts seated in the front rows.  Those scouts lit the candles of others seated near them.  We faced the campfire again as the flames were passed along while a speaker challenged everyone to take what they had learned during the week back to their communities and pass it on to other scouts.  When he finished speaking I turned to look at the audience.  The sight of thousands of candles spreading over the hillsides surrounding the amphitheater is something that I will never forget.  For years I kept the candle from that ceremony as a reminder of the importance of passing on what I have learned from others and from my own experiences.  Scouting is part of the foundation of my entertainment career.  My first skit performance, my first magic performance, and my first clown performance were all at scout events.  I have volunteered to teach a class in magic for a Scouting training day next month to try to pass some of that on to the newest generation of scouts and potential entertainers.


I grew up in Southern California.  I really did not know most of my relatives because they lived in the Midwest.  I learned some very important lessons through my father's example.  The most important ones were about service to God and to your community.  I have had the opportunity to learn more about my ancestors during the past year.  I have discovered that the value of service was passed down from father to son through the generations.  What I learned from my father was what he had learned from those who came before him.  My great grandfather, M.R. Johnson, was the third person in the State of Nebraska to obtain an optometrist license.  The population was not large enough for him to make a living as an optometrist, but there was a need to be met.  So, he opened an optometrist office in his jewelry store.  His father, John E. Johnson, was instrumental in the establishment of Bishops Hill, Illinois, the first community of Swedish immigrants in the United States.  Service to God and to others was part of the daily life in the new settlement.  The residents of Bishops Hill assisted other Swedish immigrants who then spread out through the Midwest.  So, I have benefited from the lives of those who came before me, even though I was not aware of the source until now.  I am trying to hand on the same lessons to my grandchildren.


Lessons have also been passed down through generations in entertainment.  Many ideas currently being used by entertainers are old ones.  Most entertainers at some point in their career have performed a routine with a Magic Coloring Book.  The basic principle of a transforming book has been passed down for more than four centuries.  It was described in a magic book titled The Discovery of Witchcraft written in 1584.


A candle has to be carefully protected to keep it from being blown out.  That is not true of a torch.  I juggled torches when I performed outdoors at the Raging Waters amusement park.  As the torches sailed through the air I could hear the whoosh of the flames as they grew larger and brighter.  The lessons that have been passed to us from others do not have to be protected.  They are to be used.  The more that we use them, the stronger they will become.  Then we will have something valuable to pass on to those coming after us.


Have you grabbed the torch from earlier generations?  Are you using what they gave you?  Are your life and your entertainment shining brightly?  What can you do to make them shine brighter?  What are you passing on to future generations?

New Article by Bruce Johnson 
An article that I wrote titled "Clowning in Christmas Celebrations through the Ages" was printed in the November/December issue of Clowning Around published by the World Clown Association. This article is part of my WCA Historian column.  The article traces how comedy and clown type characters have contributed to the joy of Christmas celebrations for over 600 years, and the role those celebrations have played in the development of clowning.
 The same issue has a filler that I wrote about the first published reference to Mrs. Claus.

Clowning Around Deadline

Due to the holidays, the deadline for submitting articles to the February issue of Clowning Around magazine has been extended to January 4.  Anyone who has an article to submit can do so by email at

Theatrical Term: Cross and Counter

When a director in a theater wants you to move someplace on stage they will probably order you to cross to a certain point.  For example, cross to the chair.  That is an abreviation for "move across to..."  Actors marking movement directions in their scripts will usually put down "X chair" to mean cross to the chair.
A Counter is a movement in response to somebody else making a cross.  It's purpose can be to clear sightlines, maintain a balanced stage picture, or to control focus.  For example, in a scene from "Trudi and the Minstel,"
I was standing at the base of a flight of stairs when somebody entered at the top.  My counter was to take a few steps backwards while turning towards the person at the top.  That meant the audience could see the other character as they descended the stairs, and I did not have to turn my back completely to the audience.  Frequently if a character moves upstage (further from the audience), another character will also move upstage to stay on the same level so neither has to turn away from the audinece while interacting with each other.
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 

Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List