Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
September 27, 2010
Issue #382

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

After a hiatus of a month, I am glad to be back.
 I greatly enjoyed the South East Clown Association Convention in Jacksonville, FL.  It turned out to be a great time with friends.  I saw some wonderful friends that I have the opportunity to see about once a year, but I also saw friends that I haven't seen in a long time, and made some new friends.  Lee Mullally, the SECA Education Director, put together a great program.  I was very pleased with the response to my classes.
I also attended the Circus Fans of America Covention in Grand Rapids, MI, and had a great time.  The convention included a reunion with Jim Royal who was the Ringmaster for the Carson & Barnes Circus in 1981.  I was the show's clown that year.  (You can read a little about our working relationship that season in Creativity For Entertainers Volume Two.)  I had not seen Jim or his wife, Beverly, since that time.  It ws wonderful catching up with them.
I would like to comment on two trends that I saw at the CFA convention.  First, there is a growing interest in clowning with more respect being paid to it.  The banquet speaker for this convention was Steve "T.J. Tatters" Smith.  Fifteen years ago the CFA turned down articles about clowns submitted to their magazine because they felt there wasn't enough interest.  Now they are actively seeking articles on clowning. 
Second, the Circus Fans of America are actively supporting the growing youth circus movement.  That is wonderful because that will be the source of the stars of the future.  I think that the Junior Joey programs sponsored by various clown organizations can reach out to the clowns involved in the youth circuses to the benefit of everyone. 
The CFA convention participants attended a performance by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  I was pleasantly surprised when one of the clowns recognized me and introduced himself.  He was Rudy Wollrabe.  His mother, Gina, is a clown who took him to clown conventions in the North West.  I gave him his first juggling lesson when he was a young boy.  He participated in the first Junior Joey program in our region.  Now he is touring with the RBB&B Circus.  He is proof that the Junior Joey programs do work.  Congratulations Rudy.
I don't have any dates curently listed under the Educational Opportunities column.  That should change soon.  I have received several invitations, and I will list them as soon as they are confirmed.
Have a great week,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

September 27, 2010

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

"History is a ribbon always unfurling.  History is a journey.  As we continue our journey, we think of those who traveled before us, and we see and hear again the echoes of our past."  -- Ronald Reagan, Second Inaugural Address, January 1985


This Friday evening, October 1, the International Clown Hall of Fame will be inducting Chester "Bobo" Barnett.  This is the first induction ceremony in six years.  Barnett will be the 69th clown honored with induction into the ICHOF.  I have been a supporter of the ICHOF since the beginning.  I believe that it is an important resource for clowns because it is preserving information about our past and reminding us of important people who have come before us.


I like Ronald Reagan's metaphor of an unfurling ribbon because of its image of history continuing.  Too many people think of history as a book that has been written and closed.  However, history is part of today and the future. 


The past is something that can inspire and guide us today.  We can use the ideas and knowledge of past generations of clowns.  I saw something similar this past weekend when I took my grandson, Jackson, on a Cub Scout camping trip.  During the campfire I saw cub scouts performing skits that I had performed in the 1960's when I was a Cub Scout.  They have been handed down from Cub Scout to Cub Scout through the years.  Some of them had been changed, but many of them were still basically the same.  They have endured because they still get laughs from an audience of Cub Scouts.  Some of the skits used by Cub Scouts are based on ones that have been performed by circus clowns.  For example, I learned the Busy Bee clown skit at the first campfire I attended as a Boy Scout.  This weekend, Jackson and his best friend, Jacob, needed a skit that could be performed by two people.  So, I taught them a routine called Dead & Alive that has been handed down from clown to clown since 1860.  This 150-year-old skit got a lot of laughter when performed by two Cub Scouts this past weekend.  (Dead and Alive is described in Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three: Creative Routines.)


At the recent Circus Fans of America Convention, I saw two performances by Julius Carallo.  He has a very distinctive appearance.  While talking to him at the banquet, I learned that his appearance was inspired by George L. Fox, a nineteenth century clown who has been inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame.  Carallo has been fascinated with Fox and researched his life and career.  Every time he puts on his costume he thinks about Fox and his contributions to our art.  That echoes in the current performances by Carallo.


Not only is the past part of what we do today, but what we do today is part of the future.  Our ideas and knowledge can inspire future generations of clowns.  We think of historians as those who study the past, but those who document and preserve what we do today are also historians.  What we do today will eventually be the past that those who come after us will study.  To me that is both a privilege and a responsibility.  What I do in my own performances and what I do to encourage or discourage those around me might influence the future of clowning.  I want to be a positive influence.  The 2010 Circus Fans of America Convention participants were hosted by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  We got to go on a back stage tour and visit with performers before the arena was opened to the public.  Larry Clark, a clown currently touring with the RBB&B Circus, recognized me.  He said that I had gone out to lunch with him at the 1994 Circus Fans of America Convention and answered his questions about my experience as a circus clown.  He said I gave him the confidence that he could do that as well.  He was hired by a tented circus where he gained experience and now he plays a prominent role with the RBB&B Circus.  I am sure that others are inspired by watching him perform.  It was encouraging to me to hear that I had played a tiny part in what he has accomplished.


How can you be inspired by those who have gone before us? How can you help preserve the present art of clowning for study by future generations of entertainers?  What kinds of contributions are you making to the future of clowning?  How can you make sure that your contributions are positive ones?



It is not too early to begin thinking about your winter performances.  I have a card effect that is ideal for the winter.  You begin by displaying four cards with pictures of Frosty the Snowman.  Suddenly his picture on each of the cards has melted a little.  Then his picture melts further.  Next Frosty vanishes completely from the cards.  Finally Frosty returns.

This effect uses the Charlie Count, a move I developed that is easy to perform but deceptive enough to create a sense of wonder in audience members.  You are the only one to touch the cards so it is ideal for caring clowns who have to worry about infection control.  It instantly resets so it is ideal for any type of strolling venue.  I did the original drawings for this effect, which is not available any where else.

Here is a bonus joke that you can use whether you purchase the effect or not.  Do you know what Frosty the Snowman and Smokey the Bear have in common?
A:  Their middle name.
Frosty is just $15 plus $5 for postage and handling.  For information on this effect and other props that I offer click on 
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
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