Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
March 22, 2010
Issue #367

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

This issue contains several announcements.  I have been working on making more material and resources available to you.
A subscriber recently commented that  reading my newsletter, magazine articles, or web site felt like hearing from a good friend.  When I am writing I imagine that I am talking to a friend and picture what I can do to help them.  I am glad that feeling comes through.
Have a great week,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Articles by Bruce Johnson
Article by Carole Johnson
Web Site Update - Props
Silk Painting
Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

March 22, 2010

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

"Minds are like flowers. If you let it sit there without soaking anything up, it will dry up." -- Ken Hill


This is the time when many flowers appear because the plants soak up spring showers.  This is also the time when you can soak up information from the spring educational opportunities.  I recently attended a lecture by Troy Hooser that was hosted by my local magic club.  The World Clown Association and Clowns of America International both have their annual conventions in the spring.  I will be attending the Branson Magic Bonanza next month.  (Although the word magic is in the title, this is not just for magicians.  The emphasis of the conference is on showmanship which can be applied to many variety arts skills.  Many clowns attend this conference.)  There are many other educational opportunities this spring.


Another way to soak up knowledge and inspiration is reading a biography of an entertainer or other notable person.  I recently read a very interesting biography of Isaac Asimov.  Asimov wrote popular science books and articles as well as science fiction and mystery stories.  I learned that Asimov believed attending science fiction conventions was valuable because of the opportunity to talk with other authors and fans.  Asimov was himself a science fiction fan and admired several of the other writers.  He supported other authors by co-editing anthologies to insure that their work was not forgotten and that they would receive additional income from their previous work.  I discovered that one key to his tremendous creative output was his diversity.  He had many projects going at the same time.  If he encountered difficulty with a story, he would switch to an article.  Often when he returned to the story after allowing it to incubate he realized the solution to his problem.  He wrote a science fiction series known as the Foundation stories and a separate series about robots.  He kept the two separate so that if one failed the other might succeed.  Also, his work was cumulative.  He started his Foundation stories as a series of short stories.  Eventually he collected the stories together to form the basis for his Foundation book trilogy.  Towards the end of his career, he combined the Foundation and robot series by writing new books linking the two together.


I am currently reading Dan Rice: The Most Famous Man That You've Never Heard Of, a biography of the nineteenth century clown by David Carlyon.  I am impressed and inspired by the generosity and philanthropy of Rice, even during periods when he was having personal financial difficulties.


Another way to soak up ideas and inspiration is attending performances by others.  On my previous trips to Branson, MO I have seen some outstanding performances that were part of the magic conference.  I have also gone to other performances at theaters in that town.  I haven't copied ideas from those shows, but they did start trains of thought that led to new routines that I did perform.  Also, by seeing the quality of those performances I am inspired to strive to improve the quality of my own performances.


If you can't go to see those performances in person, you can see outstanding performances on video.  The Puckett Family of entertainers visited my home this weekend.  Esther Puckett, their daughter, surprised us with an improvised bit, and then said it was inspired by Gracie Allen, of the Burns & Allen team.  The family has been checking DVDs out of their local library to study.  They have been watching Burns & Allen, Abbott & Costello, Lucille Ball and other old time great comedians.  Matthew Puckett, their son, has mastered the Who's On First routine and performed it with one of his friends. 


Something that I really like about DVDs is the extra features providing insights into the creative process.  I recently watched "Monsters vs Aliens."  According to the special features the movie's creators grew up watching monster movies fifty years ago.  They decided to do a movie paying homage to those films and started with the premises that those types of monsters would be reintroduced into a contemporary environment.  While working on the new movie they created poster's for movies their new characters might have appeared in fifty years ago.  That was part of making those characters real to them.


How can you use Asimov's example?  How can you have multiple projects to minimize the effects of failure or creative blocks?  What would being a fan of other entertainers change what you do?  How can you suport other entertainers?  How can you build upon your past work in the future?

What can you do to soak up knowledge, inspiration, and new ideas?


Articles by Bruce Johnson


It is unusual for me to have more than one article in an issue of a variety arts magazine.  However, I have three articles in the March/April issue of Clowinging Around, published by the World Clown Association.  That is due to requests from President Richard Snowberg.


The topic of my regular WCA Historian column was History and Philosophy.  It covers how your knowledge of variety arts history affects your philosphy as an entertainer.  I also discuss how historical misinformation can result in an invalid philosophy.


Richard wrote a feature article for this issue on why there seems to be fewer whiteface clowns today, and asked for my comments on the subject.  He liked what I wrote to him enough that he turned it into a short side bar article accompanying his article.


Richard has been suggesting the need for a column or articles directed twoards new clowns.  In our articles in this issue Richard and I both referred to the different types of clown characters many times without defining them.  I remembered that when I started clowining I didn't know the terms associated with clown characters.  So, I wrote a brief article defining the characters which is the initial article in the Information for New Clowns column.  I won't be continuing the column, but I got it started.


World Clown Association

Article by Carole Johnson 

My wife, Carole, wrote an article that appears in the March/April issue of Clowning Around, pulished by the World Clown Association.  It describes how she uses a prop called a Balancing Eagle in her work as a caring clown.
Her article is less than 400 words in length and is an example of the type of short practical article you can write and submit to a variety arts magazine.  Publications often have an easier time fitting short artilces into their pages.

Web Site Update - Props

I have been working to update my web site which is  It is now possible to order some of my magic effects directly off my web site using PayPal.  I am working on some new effects that will be available on my dealer table at the Branson Magic Bonanza and will be posted on my web site soon.

Silk Painting 


I mention creating customized silk scarves in my Creativity for Entertainers trilogy.  I have now posted an article on my web site describing one method for creating individual scarves.  (Other methods are possible.)

Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter 

I have a companion newsletter for people who own my Creativity For Entertainers trilogy.  The latest issue was sent last week.  If you did not recieive it, but would like to subscribe use the Update Profile button at the end of this issue to add it as a preference.  You can read the back issues of this newsletter by clicking on the archive button.
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 2010 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. 
September 8-12, 2010
South East Clown Association Convention
Jacksonville, Florida
 Introduction to Juggling, Creativity Techniques, Trick Cartoons, Banquet Show, and Dealer Table
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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