Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #402
April 25, 2011

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

This is just one of my newsletters.  I have another newsletter that I publish infrequently.  It is called the Creativity For Entertainers Newsletter and is intended for owners of my series of three books titled Creativity For Entertainers.  Anyone may read this newsletter, but it will be most useful to those who own the books.  Because that newsletter is archived where it is available to the general public I don't reveal magic methods in its articles.  Instead I refer you to the appropriate sections of the books to read the method.  My Creativity For Entertainers newsletter is just one way that I am trying to make the books as useful as possible to its owners.  The latest issue of that newsletter went out earlier this week.  You can read it by clicking on the archive link on the right.
I will be starting another newsletter titled The History of American Clowning.  You can read more about it in the section below devoted to that book.
When you decide that my newsletters no longer meet your needs you can easily remove your name from my subscription list by using the Safe Unsubscribe button at the bottom of each newsletter.
Have a great week,


In This Issue
Thought For The Week
The History of American Clowning
New Article by Bruce Johnson
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

April 25, 2011

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"Limitations allow you to choose from something rather than everything." - Corita Kent and Jan Steward, Learning by Heart


Visiting a magic dealer can be overwhelming because there are so many choices on display.  I have noticed that if there is a dealer table with lots of possible choices at a convention, most people quickly run their eyes across the display and then move on without purchasing anything.  This is especially true if the dealer room is open lots of hours so they aren't forced to make a decision now.  Sometimes they plan to come back later to make their decision and never return.  If there are a handful of choices on a table at a magic lecture available for a very limited time, people quickly decide what they want and purchase it right away.


Having too many choices can make it difficult to make any choice.  The lament of kids on summer vacation that there is "nothing to do" actually means the opposite.  There is so much they can potentially do that they can't decide.  No decision is more appealing than another so they are stuck being indecisive and don't do anything.


Sometimes limitations are forced upon us.  For example, when I recently broke my right ankle I was forced to stay home most of the time because I can't drive with that ankle in a cast.  That meant my choices of things to do where limited by what I can do at home.  So I decided to reorganize my clown history archives.  I have been entering a lot of information into my computer which will allow me to quickly search for information.  A friend asked me if I was going to scan all the information.  I could have done that, but I decided to limit myself to retyping the material.  In the process I have started recognizing some names and making connections that I had never thought about before.  It has been an opportunity to learn a lot more about clown history.  I probably would not have made the choice to follow through and complete this project now if my physical limitations had not narrowed the number of possible choices.


When I worked at the Raging Waters amusement park I spent part of the day doing atmosphere shows.  Those were shows that were done at various places around the park where I could gather a crowd.  Between seasons I would search for new routines to add to my shows.  I made a large trunk on wheels that I pulled with me which meant I was limited to the props that would fit into the trunk.  I would be performing with people standing in a circle around me so I could not use props that would reveal the secret when viewed from a certain angle.  I also had to use props that could be seen and understood from the back.  When I was entertaining people waiting in line for an attraction I usually had a new audience by the time I finished one show so I immediately began a new show.  That meant I couldn't pause to reset props.  When I finished a routine the props had to be back in starting position.  Those limitations let me quickly narrow the possible selections at a magic dealer table from over fifty to perhaps just five.  Then I was able to make a choice from those.  During those years I actually used more of what I purchased than I do now that my performances don't have as many limitations.


You can impose your own limitations. The writers of the Jack Benny radio show created a character they called the Little Mexican, played by Mel Blanc, who was limited to speaking one syllable at a time.  The result was a highly successful series of routines.  You might decide that you want to do an entire routine without speaking.  If you rely heavily on props, you might limit yourself to a spoken routine without props.  You might want to do a show limited to solo routines.  You might want to do a show limited entirely to tricks using silk scarves or go the opposite way and do a show without any silk scarves.  You might do a juggling act limited to manipulating balls or do an act where you limit your props to things that can be found around the house.  It is up to you.  The secret is to set a limit which narrows down the possible choices.  Then select the best from those available choices and see how they inspire your creativity.


What limits are imposed upon you?  How do those guide your choices?  What temporary limits can you set yourself?  How do those guide your choices?


The History of American Clowning

My newest publication is The History of American Clowning.   It is an electronic book that comes in PDF format on a CD.  You can read it on your computer screen or if you prefer being able to mark and underline as you study you can print it out on paper.  If you don't have a program that allows you to read PDF files, Adobe has a free one that can be downloaded from the internet.
This book is very much a work in progress.  I am still studying and learning more about American clown history.  For this reason I will be publishing a History of American Clowning newsletter for owners of this book.  Each CD has a registration number.  Send me your registration number and email address and I will add you to a special mailing list.  Then as I find things that need to be corrected in the original text or write additional material, I will email that to you.  That way you will always have updated information. 

The introductory price for this book is $20 plus $5 for postage and handling.

Buy Now


New Article by Bruce Johnson

I wrote an article titled "New York's Hippodrome Theater" that appears in the April 2011 issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Assocation.   This issue contains a lot of information on the recent WCA convention in New York so I picked a topic for my Historian column related to that city.  The Hippodrome Theater was a unique and important venue for clowns.
This article is currently available only in Clowning Around magazine which is sent to members of the WCA.  To learn more about the WCA please go to
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 2011 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.

California Clown Campin'

August 1-6, 2011

San Bernardino, CA

Topics to be announced

CCC Information

Show Me Clowns for Jesus
February 17-19, 2012
Springfield, MO
Topics to be announced
For information on additional services that I can provide for an educational event 

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