Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

October 25, 2010
Issue #385

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


I am flattered that I have subscribers from all over the world.  I have subscribers on every continent except Antarctica.  I try to keep that in mind and make my articles universal.  However, in this issue you will find one article about a TV program that is being televised in the United States.  It is an opportunity that I didn't want my American subscribers to miss.  My international subscribers may be able to obtain the program on DVD.

There is information about the World Clown Association Convention in this issue.  That is an international event.  I know that there will be clowns from Asia and Europe attending the convention in New York.

You may notice that the links in my newsletter are not the actual URL addresses for the relevant web sites.  That is because Constant Contact, the service that I use for my newsletters, tracks the links so I know which ones are clicked on most often.  That is part of the feedback that I use to design my newsletters to fit your needs and interests.  For example, I know that the history trivia links are those that are clicked on most often so I continue to include that feature in my newsletter when I can.  I try to include it twice a month.  I also know that the links in the Educational Opportunities column are clicked on each week, so I continue to provide that in each issue.  The method that Constant Contact uses for tracking the links would result in some servers blocking the newsletters if I inserted the actual URL address into my newsletter.

I appreciate all types of feedback that I receive because that helps me to know which direction to go with this newsletter.  It is worth doing only if you read it, and I know that you won't read it if it doesn't fit your needs.

Remember when it no longer fits your needs, you can use the Safe Unsubscribe link to be permanently removed from my mailing list.  On the other hand, if you find it very useful you can use the forward link to send it to somebody you think might also be interested.

Have a great week,

In This Issue
Thought For The Week
New Article
Caring Clowning at WCA
Circus on PBS
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

October 25, 2010

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

"Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest."  - The Book of Common Prayer 1667


That description of the educational process is still valid over 300 years later.


I've talked before about the importance of reading and the treasure of information and inspiration that is available to us through books.  However, just reading it is not enough.


When I was in college I would highlight important passages in my text books and write notes in the margin.  That made it easy to go back and review information in preparation for tests.  That is still a valid way to approach a book on showmanship, for example Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber.  However, once I have highlighted a book I tend to overlook the other passages when I go back to it.  That can limit your future education.  I have one customer who purchased two sets of my Creativity For Entertainers trilogy so that he would have one set to mark up now and another to keep for future reference.


Another way to mark information is to take notes.  Studies have shown that you remember something that you write down much longer than something you have just heard or seen. 


Computers make it easy to store notes, but there are some drawbacks.  First, it appears that the physical act of writing plays a part in retention.  Also, technology continues to evolve and you can loose information that has been stored electronically.  When I was living in Southern California I used an extensive entertainment archive at the University of Southern California to research the life and career of Red Skelton.  I entered all my notes into a computer and saved them onto floppy discs.  Unfortunately the word processing program that I used then is no longer available.  The current word processing programs are not able to read the format of the earlier files so I lost all of that information.  I recently found that I sometimes have problems using MS Word to read files that were written with an earlier version of MS Word.  For that reason I believe that it is vital to keep paper copies of important information.


If you are using multiple sources of information a notebook, journal, or file folder is valuable.  That way you can collect related information together and not have to keep referring to the original source.  I recently read seven different books while studying the history of clowning in South East Asia.  I found that keeping notes as I read and putting them into one notebook made it much easier to compare facts and fit them together.


Marking is not enough.  The next step is to learn what you marked.  That requires repetition.  If it is information, we need to review it often to lock it into your memory.  If it is a skill, we need to actually perform the task.  You have to do it frequently to learn it, and then continue to do it often enough that you don't forget.  About five years ago I made dozens of origami elephants for table decorations at a banquet.  By the time I finished making all of them I had learned to do it well enough that I could fold the elephants rapidly without having to think about it.  Recently somebody saw me who had been at that banquet and asked me to show her how to fold the elephant.  I don't think I had made any since the banquet.  The first one that I tried didn't turn out right.  I finally remembered how to do it on my second attempt.  I hadn't folded an elephant frequently enough over the years to keep the method fresh in my brain.  Nothing stays the same.  We are either learning or forgetting.  We need to keep relearning the things that we know or we forget them.


Then after we learn something, we need to reflect upon it.  What general principles can you apply in other ways?  How does old information and new information fit together?  Is what you learned valid today?  How can you improve upon what you learned?  Sometimes you need to step away and allow the information to incubate in your subconscious before you gain new insights.


What are you reading to continue your education?  What is the best way to mark what you want to learn?  What is the best way to learn it?  What do you need to review so you don't forget it?  How can you reflect on what you have learned?


New Article by Bruce Johnson

The current issue of the Giggle Gazzette, published by the South East Clown Association, includes a short article.  It is the script to the Fairest in the Land, a routine that I demonstrated during my general session at the SECA convention last month.  It combines creating a swan balloon sculpture while telling a story.  Each twist of the balloon corresponds to a different part of the story.  


I submitted the script to the Giggle Gazzette for two reasons.  I felt that some of the participants in the convention would appreciate having the script since they saw it performed at the convention.  Also, since this is the issue covering the convention I wanted to illustrate a little of what went on at the convention to encourage attendance next year.  I have noticed that the clown magazines do a great job covering the competition results, but their is little information about the entertainment or classes.  (The opposite is true with magazines published by some magic organizations that have reviews of most of the classes and performances, and a small announcement of competition winners.)  It has been my practice, and that of a handful of other clown writers, to write about these overlooked areas when I attend a convention.  I think that gives people a better perception of what went on, and also may give them some ideas for who they would like to lecture at future conventions or local meetings.  When you attend a convention, what topic could you cover in the organization's publication that tends to be overlooked?  It doesn't have to be a long article. 


A longer article about the Swan Story and how I created it is available on my web site.


The Fairest in the Land- The Story of the Swan

Caring Clowning at the WCA Convention

Caring Clowning is one of the World Clown Association's areas of emphasis.  The Caring Clown Director is one of the organization's board positions.


At the WCA Convention next March there are three classes specifically intended for caring clowns.  In addition to that many of the members of the WCA Caring Clown Committee will be attending the convention and holding a Jam Session on the subject.  That means you will be able to meet and share ideas with some of the leaders in the Caring Clown field.


Although it is not labeled as a caring clown class, I will be teaching one session at the convention that is ideal for people involved in that specialty.  That is my Trick Cartoon class.  Trick cartoons are an inexpensive latex free hand out that are infection control compliant.  In addition you can easily customize a cartoon for the person you are interacting with.  An advantage to a hospital or nursing home setting for somebody learning trick cartoons is you only have to know one cartoon to be able to start using them.  Because you are working with individuals or small groups and then moving on to another room, nobody knows that you keep repeating the same cartoon.  Many participants in my previous trick cartoon classes have contacted me to let me know that they have very successfully incorporated trick cartoons into their caring clown work.


You can find more information on this convention by using the link under the Educational Opportunity column.


I hope to see many subscribes at the convention in New York.


Circus on PBS

America's Public Broadcasting System is airing a six-part television documentary titled Circus starting the first week of November.  This show docments a year at the Big Apple Circus.  Two International Clown Hall of Fame inductees are featured in the series.  Barry Lubin, as Grandma, is the icon of the Big Apple Circus.  Steve Smith, former RBB&B Clown College Dean, is the director for this edition of the Big Apple Circus.  (Steve was also the director of the Children of the World edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus which was documented on the Disney video titled Mickey's Fun Songs: Let's Go To The Circus.)


The program is scheduled to debut November 3, but your local channel has discretion on the day and time that they air it.


The program is also available on DVD if you would like to keep it for archive purposes or if your local PBS station does not carry it.


Circus on PBS  

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.

World Clown Association Convention
March 14-18, 2011
New York, NY
The History of American Clowning,
Trick Cartoons

For information on additional services that I can provide for an educational event 

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