June 2010Vol 1, Issue 12

Creativity For Entertainers Trilogy

Creativity For Entertainers

Welcome to the twelth issue of my Creativity For Entertainers newsletter.  
I want this newsletter to be useful to you.  I rely on your feedback  to determine what I should include.  There has been interest in creativity exercises so I am including another one in this issue. Let me know which articles are the most useful to you.
I started writing articles for this issue right after Easter so you will notice some references to that holiday.  When a holiday concludes I often have ideas that I wished I had used.  I write them down and try to construct some of the new props during the year.  Often I get items in holiday clearance sales that I put away for the next year.  Even with trying to plan ahead, I still frequently end up rushing to finish props just before a holiday show.  It is never too early to begin preparing for your favorite holiday shows.
I enjoyed seeing many subscribers at the Branson Magic Bonanza last month.  It was a great event.  I appreciated hearing your comments about how my books have been useful to you. 
The next educational programs that I will be a part of are Clown Camp Singapore and the South East Clown Association.  I hope to see many subscribers there.  I think almost everyone who subscribes to this newletter also gets my Thought For The Week newsletter which has links to those events.  If you don't get those newsletters you can use the archive link to read a recent issue.
Another link that I have added is to the page of magic props I have created that are available for purchase.  When you bought my books, you received the rights to make the effects for your own use.  However, if you would rather invest your money instead of your time, I have several effects that are ready for use.
Have a great day,
In This Issue
Creative Exercise
Color Changing Streamer
Sunfire Blendo Addition
In Memory: Don Brisbane
Quick Links
Join our Mailing List!

Creativity Exercise - Ffty Uses

This is a standard creativity exercise that is often assigned in schools.  I had to do it in art classes, theater classes, and journalism classes.  It is particularly relevant for variety artists.


The basic exercise is to take a common object and make a list of fifty uses for it.  The uses can be serious or humorous.  For example, uses for plastic Easter eggs could include drilling holes in the end to make salt & pepper shakers, filling empty space in packages to ship, ear rings, cookie cutters, and hills for Lego villages.


See how quickly you can complete your own list of fifty uses for plastic Easter eggs.


Not only was this an exercise that I was assigned in class, but it was something that I used to do frequently as fun and to test the development of my creativity.  It took me a week the first time I was assigned this exercise.  Eventually I got to the point where I could do it in about twenty minutes.  Because I have not done it regularly for a while it takes me longer now.


When you need a creative jolt, pick your own object and see how many uses you can find for it.  As you experience your own creativity you will be surprised by the discoveries you make about yourself and the creative process.


That is usually the end of the exercise.  However, as an entertainer there is another step to take.  Go back over your list and ask yourself if there is any way you can use one of the ideas in your act.  For example, one of the uses on my list was perform the silk to egg trick.  If you are performing for a group of magicians you could use a plastic egg to do a parody of the classic silk to egg effect.  The funny method you would use is to open the plastic egg, push the silk inside, and close the egg.  For a kicker ending you would secretly switch to a matching plastic egg containing a real egg, and then explain that if anybody recognizes the plastic egg as one that opens you would have to open the egg to prove that the silk really had changed to an egg.  You could then conclude the routine by opening the plastic egg to reveal a real egg which you crack open.  That isn't a routine I have tested yet, but it demonstrates how this exercise can lead to possible ideas for routines.


After completing this exercise, I came up with another idea for a routine using the Card Match Principle (Volume Three pages 142-145).  My first impulse was do something with the eggs so they match, but the phrase Will The Eggs Match has the wrong number of letters.  I noticed my grandson has a toy egg with a dinosaur inside.  That started a new train of thought.  The shell of an egg is similar, and the albumin (egg white) is basically the same.  It is the yolks that make eggs different and produce different animals.  The phrase Will The Yolks Match has the correct number of letters.  You could do a routine with five pairs of eggs.  When you open each egg it would contain a toy baby animal.  Each pair of eggs would have a matching baby.  So in a short period of time I came up with two possible routine ideas inspired by this exercise.


Remember the ten percent rule - it is estimated that on the average only about ten percent of your ideas are useable.  That means if you come up with fifty ideas chances are that five of them might be useable.


After completing this exercise, what ideas do you have that you might be able to use in your performances?



A Flexagon is a piece of paper that has been cut, folded, and glued in such a way that when it is manipulated it reveals more than two sides.  Many different designs have been created over the years.  It is an intriguing object.


I performed a clown ministry worship service Easter Sunday at a church which had a craft period after my performance.  They gave the kids flexagons purchased from www.memorycross.com.  These particular flexagons showed four different pictures that the kids could color.  The pictures were Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, and the empty tomb.  This web site has many other Christian themed flexagons that might be used by variety artists involved in ministry.  There are animated examples on the web site that will allow you to see exactly what this is like.





This web site also has blank flexagons allowing you to create your own four images or messages.  These can be used by any variety artists. 


An immediate idea that I had was to use it with a card effect.  You would force a card.  (You can use your favoirite method or choose one from Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three pages 17-28.)  You would letter the first side of the flexagon "My Prediction."  When you fold it to reveal the second image it would be a prediction of the wrong card.  When you folded it again, it would become a correct prediction.  The fourth image could be "Thank You For Your Assistance."


Another idea that I had was to draw an egg on a leaf on the first side, a caterpillar on the second side, a chrysalis on the third side, and a butterfly on the fourth side.  The paper automatically recycles back to the first image so you could end with the picture of an egg laid by the butterfly.  You could use this flexagon, instead of scarves, to perform the Life Cycle of a Butterfly routine from Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three and use it to teach a lesson about a process.


Perhaps a face painter or balloon artist could use a flexagon to provide four possibilities for somebody to choose from.


How could you use a flexagon in your performances?  What four pictures or phrases would you use?  How could you combine it with other routines that you already know?  What other skills do you have that could be combined with the flexagon?

Make a Splash


Many public libraries are using Make A Splash by Reading as the theme for their summer reading program.  A participant at the Branson Magic Bonanza asked me if I had anything that might be appropriate for a show fitting the theme.  I had not thought about it before, I realized that I do have many fish themed ideas and products that might fit.


I have produced versions of Charlie's Marked Cards and Instant Wild Card using large Go Fish cards.  You may make your own version using the directions in the Volume Three, or I have them available for purchase on my web site.  They may not be big enough for a large audience, but they would be excellent for close up use entertaining early arrivals.  I like to do some close up magic before this type of event because it allows me to establish rapport with some of the audience members before the show actually begins.


I also have fifty/fifty forcing decks made with a different design of Go Fish cards.  Instead of a different number of fish on the cards, each card has a different fish character, for example, sea horse or tiger shark.  These are also available on my web site.  Use the quick link above right to go to my props page.


 Other possible routines would be Sammy Seal (Volume Three pages 33-50) and Going Fishing (Volume One pages 237- 245)


If you use any of my fish card effects or another routine using fish props you can write appropriate jokes using the exercise on pages 238-241of Creativity For Entertainers Volume One.

Will the Books Match


The card match principle is one of my favorites because it is so versatile.  In playing around with water ideas I decided to see if I could apply that principle in some way. 


My first attempt was to use the phrase Will The Water Match because that has the correct number of letters.  My first idea was to use pairs of bottled water.  You would use two bottles each of five different brands.  The bottles could be hidden in sacks and after the sacks have been moved around the bottles would match.


Next I started thinking of places where you might find water.  Those were Pond, Lake, Ocean, Sea, Bay, Estuary, River, Stream, Spring, Clouds, and Glacier.  I came up with more than the five that I would use in the routine so that I could choose the best ones.  I thought about pairing a sign with the name and a picture of that type of location.  Then instead of pictures I thought about pairing two word names like Pacific Ocean and Lake Superior.


Then I thought of using a book about the location instead of a generic picture.  That reminded me of the Will The Books Match routine from Volume Three page 146-147.  Sometimes I forget about ideas and have to be reminded of them.  Even though I wrote my creativity trilogy, I often return to the books as a source of additional inspiration.  They serve as one type of idea journal.  (For more on idea journals see Volume One pages 151 and 152.)


Since I had already created a list of locations where you might find water, I checked at my local library for children's books with those words in the titles.  The list that I came up with is

            The Frog In The Pond by Mara Will

            River of Life by Debbie Miller

            Great Bear Lake by Erin Hunter

            Dot & Jabber and the Mystery of the Missing Stream by Ellen Stoll Walsh

            Beyond the Sea of Ice: The Voyages of Henry Hudson by Joan Elizabeth Goodman


I would scan the covers of each of the books, print out two copies, and use them for the routine.  Since I would be using books available from the library, I could ask for them to be displayed on a table during my performance and then kids could check them out afterwards.


Remember that idea you don't use may contain elements that you can use in another routine.  Withhold judgment as long as possible.  In the beginning create as many variations as possible.  Then recombine elements from separate ideas.  Finally, judge your ideas and use the best.


Pooh's Go-Together Game


My niece, Julie, loves the Piglet character from the Disney Winnie the Pooh movies.  When I was visiting my family in Southern California last month, we went to a dollar store.  I found a deck of cards called Disney Pooh's Go-Together Game.  Each card has a picture and word.  You try to pair each card with one that has a related word, for example, flowers and vase.  The back of each card has half of a picture.  If you correctly pair up the words, when you turn those two cards together they form a picture of something like Piglet putting flowers into a vase.  Many different characters from the movies are included in the pictures, but only two of them showed Piglet.  (That meant a total of four cards when properly paired formed the pictures of Piglet.)  So I used the deck to perform the Four Ace routine from Volume Three pages 150-153.  At the conclusion of the effect the face up cards on each pile were vase, flowers, broom, and dustpan.  I turned over the first to cards revealing that their backs formed a picture of Piglet putting flowers in a vase.  I turned over the last two cards revealing that their backs formed a picture of Piglet sweeping up in the kitchen.  Then I turned over the rest of the deck demonstrating that those were the only pictures of Piglet in the deck.  She was impressed by the trick, but what she really liked was that I had personalized it to her particular interests.


A few days later she wanted me to do another card trick.  So I used the Hindu Force (Volume Three pages 24-27) twice so she selected two different cards, Broom and Dustpan.  Then I turned over those cards revealing that her selections made a complete picture of Piglet.


That deck of cards only cost me a dollar.  If I use it only for that special occasion it was the best dollar that I have ever sent.  However, because Winnie the Pooh and his friends are so popular I may be able to use the deck again in the future.


I am always looking for interesting decks of cards in toy stores, educational stores, and drug stores.  They are a great source of inspiration.   Knowing some basic sleight of hand allows me to easily create customized routines creating stronger connections with my audience.


How can you customize routines to connect with an audience?  Where can you find interesting items to use as props?


Booking Sheets 

The May 2010 issue of Clowning Around magazine, published by the World Clown Association,  has an article by Lee Mullally that includes the booking sheets that he fills out at the conclusion of a party.  I do something similar.  I note interesting or important facts that I picked up during the part.  The majority of my bookings are repeat customers, and that allows me to customize my performance when I return.  This week I did a repeat show for the same family.  The booking sheet for my previous appearance said that a cat is Mary's favorite animal.  So at this performance I did a trick cartoon where I printed the word cat and turned it into a picture of the face of a cat.  Mary thought that was wonderful.


How can you use booking sheets to help you prepare for repeat performances?


Include "How-to" articles or hints and tips on related subjects. Try a reader's poll. People love to give their opinion, and you can publish the results in your next newsletter. Drive traffic to your website by entering teaser text for the article with a link to your website for readers to view the full text.
That's it for this issue.  I am always interested in your questions, comments, and how you have been able to apply the information from my books.  Often readers come up with ideas that I would not have.  Their ideas then inspire me to create additional related ideas.  This newsletter is an attempt to keep two-way communication with readers of my books flowing.
Bruce Johnson
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Copyright 2010 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.  All rights reserved.