Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week
October 4, 2010
Issue #383

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


This issue contains another entry in my popular Clown History Trivia series of questions.

I know that many of my subscribers are interested in variety arts gospel ministry.  You will find information about an article posted on my web site that you may find of interest.

I have received some requests to include information about events or products that somebody else is promoting.  I do not include anything here that I do not have personal involvement with.  I only list the events that I will be attending.  (There are web sites with excellent calendars where you can find information about other educational events.)  When I recommend a book or product it is one that I have found to be personally useful and think you will be able to use as well.  I hope that everyone will understand and appreciate that.  Just because I do not list something does not mean it is not worthwhile, it just means that I don't have any personal knowledge of it.

Have a great week,

In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Articles by Bruce Johnson
New Web Site Article
History Trivia Quiz
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

October 4, 2010

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

"Every time a man starts to get a swelled head, he ought to stop and think about all the great men who have died and how well the world has gotten along without them."  -- Bert Williams, ICHOF Inductee


 "If we are trying to use our props, talents, and show opportunities to minister to our own egos... whether we be clowns or magicians... we are pathetic.  If we are trying to use our props, talents, and show opportunities to deliver great experiences to others... whether we be magicians or clowns... we are powerful." - Duane Laflin


I was invited to perform a show during the awards banquet at the 2010 South East Clown Association Convention.  I could have attempted to impress others with my abilities as a performer.  However, I wanted to inspire the participants with what they could do through clowning.  The banquet was on September 11, the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in America.  I knew that some of the convention participants wanted to commemorate that event in some manner.  I decided to incorporate part of a tribute that I had performed on October 5, 2001 at the North West Festival of Clowns.  (That tribute is described in Creativity for Entertainers Volume Three.)  I talked about being at a clown festival in Bolton, England at the time of the attacks, and how people then told me they needed the clowns more than ever to help cope with their shock and grief.  As part of the tribute I talked about clowns using their humor to break through barriers.  I performed some routines associated with Bert Williams, a black entertainer, because his talent as a clown allowed him to break through racial barriers in heavily segregated early-twentieth century America.  I talked about caring clowns who had broken through walls patients had built around themselves when nobody else had been able to reach them.  I concluded that segment of my show at SECA by saying, "Clowning is fun, but it isn't trivial.  Clowns before us have made important contributions to their society.  I challenge you to take what you have learned here this week and use it to make a difference in your community." 


In recent years my parents told me that they almost couldn't stand me when I returned home after my first season touring with a circus.  They said I was very impressed with myself and thought that I was better than the local clowns who didn't have any circus experience.  In retrospect I know that my attitude wasn't true.  There were plenty of local clowns who were better than I was even though they didn't have circus experience.  Some of them had much more experience than I did due to their many years of local performances in a variety of venues.  It took me a while to understand and appreciate their knowledge and abilities.  The tragedy is that my ego cut me off from being able to enjoy their friendship and being able to learn from them until I was once more grounded in reality.


It is easy to be impressed by your accomplishments and awards.  However, when you do that you become like a balloon that has become untied.  You can easily be blown off course.  You can leave behind the things that had made you successful.  For example, when somebody begins to take themselves too seriously I notice that they often loose their joy of performance and their audience rapport.


Studying the history of clowning is one thing that helps me keep my ego in check.  When I see the accomplishments of those who came before me I realize that my own accomplishments aren't very important.  When I study video of performances by the great clowns of the past, I realize how much room I still have for improvement.


Who do you try to minister to using your skills, talents, and opportunities?  What can you do to keep your focus on your audience?  What type of experience do you provide to them?  What kind of experience would you like them to have?  How do you want them to feel when your performance concludes?  What can you do to create that feeling?  Where can you learn more about the accomplishments and talents of the great clowns who have come before us?



Articles by Bruce Johnson

Two articles that I wrote have recently been published.


The first is "Gene Sheldon... From Bernardo to Banjo."  It appears in the September 2010 issue of Clowning Around published by the World Clown Association and is part of my column as the WCA Historian.  Gene Sheldon'f profile is illustrated with two pen and ink drawings that I did of him, one as Sam Treat in the movie "Toby Tyler" and the other in his long time role as the Banjo Fool.


The second article is "Learning to Learn."  It appears in Volume 9 Number 1 of The Funny Paper.  It is advice on how to more effectively learn any skill.


Both articles are currently available only in the pages of those issues.  I highly recommend both magazines. 


Clowning Around

Funny Paper

New Article on my Web Site

I have done lectures several times within the past year on gospel clown ministry.  One of the illusions that I have included in those lectures is a lesson about the Old Testament and New Testament using the classic boomerang optical illusion.  It is easy to make and perform.  I wrote a description of the routine that was originally published in Duane Laflin's Advance Newsletter.  I recently added it to my web site.  You can read about it by going to:


Bible Illusion

History Trivia Quiz

Click on the link that you think is the best answer to the following question.  (These links will be valid through November 1.  After that date use the History Trivia archive link to check your answer.)


The clown who performed an act where he entered driving a miniature car, performed comedy dog routines, and then concluded by playing the trumpet was


Chester "Bobo" Barnett


Lou Jacobs

Thank you for being a subscriber.  I am always interested in your questions and comments.
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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.

I currently do not have any scheduled events.  However, several are in discussion.  I'll list them here as soon as they are confirmed.

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