There is a new listing under educational opportunities. It is Angel Ocasio's Comedifest. It has been four years since this educational event was held. It is an outstanding opportunity to study from some very gifted intructor/performers. Comedifest is held at a hotel on the border of the Portland airport so it is very easy to get there. I will be teaching a comedy magic class and a strolling entertainment class. My career tends to go in cycles. For example, early in my career I did almost no birthday parties. Then there was a period when the majority of my appearances were at birthday parties. Now most of my performances have been strolling. So my Comedifest class on strolling entertainment will be about what I am doing now.
California Clown Campin' is being held during National Clown Week. In recognition of that, a public show will be performed in the California State University San Bernardino Student Union Theater at 7:00 PM on Friday August 5. Subscribers in Southern California who can't take the week off to attend classes will be able to see the staff perform in this show.
My subscription list continues to grow. Welcome to my new subscribers. You can read some back issues of this newsletter using the archive link. If you go to my web site, you will also find a wide selection of articles that you might be interested in. You will also find a list of publications I have written on my web site that you might be interested in. You can access all of that using the quick links below the educational opportunity column. I am in the process of making changes to my web site. There will be much more information available in the months to come.
I'll see you down the road,
Thought For The Week
July 4, 2011
By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson
"Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end." -- Dr. Denis Waitley, Speaker and Author
We all tend to fear failure, but it can be our most effective teacher. We often can learn much more from failure than from success.
I think my clown education is very unique. One of my more unusual learning experiences was a circus internship through York College of Pennsylvania early in my career. In 1976 I was a college student and had been a clown for exactly two years when I went on tour with Circus Kirk. (It was the first professional touring tented youth circus and the season lasted from Memorial Day to Labor Day.) The owner was Charles "Doc" Boas, a professor at YorkCollege. He arranged for the internship opportunity for everyone with the show who was a college student. Keeping a journal was one of the class requirements. I still have the journal that I wrote during the first summer semester. After being on the road for two weeks, I wrote, "Charlie in the beauty pageant act seems to be the popular favorite with the show people, although I don't really know what it is I do that is so good."
It can be very hard to determine what contributes to the success of something that you do. In reality it takes a combination of many things to be successful. It can be hard to identify all the components required to make it a success. I never did figure out why my performance in the beauty pageant act worked so well. I was afraid to experiment too much with that act because I didn't want to risk failure.
One or two reasons often cause something to fail. If you figure that out you can try to avoid similar failures. Originally my character was a janitor. My props included a mop and bucket. On a rainy day I wrote in my journal, "I tried a new walk around to tie in with the rain, but it didn't work out. I walked around with my bucket trying to catch the water dripping through the canvass. It was unclear to the audience what I was doing. It was hard to find actual drips, and it was hard to show drips that weren't there." I learned that people won't laugh at something they don't understand. Clarity is one of the elements of success.
I continue to learn from failures. Last Saturday I performed strolling entertainment at the Redmond Derby Days. A large group of girls was watching me do close up magic when an excellent duo performing their own original children's songs began performing on the main stage. (Unfortunately I never did learn their name.) The chorus of their first song included "jump ... jump ... jump, jump, jump." When the chorus came a second time, I grabbed the hands of the girls closest to me and jumped in time with the words in the song. By the time the song was over, I had a large circle of girls holding hands jumping in time to the music during each chorus. Later in another section of the festival grounds I was doing trick cartoons for a different group of kids. The duo started singing a song with "run around, run around" in the chorus. One of the kids ran in a circle around the group when she heard the chorus, so I started running around behind her. Everyone thought that was funny. A little later I had just joined a family when the duo sang, "spin around, spin around baby." I took a child's hand and tried to get her to spin around. I could sense that she was resisting so I immediately stopped. I quickly started making a napkin rose for her which I knew would put me back on the road to success. I later realized why that interaction had failed. Earlier I had spent time with the kids so I had already established some rapport with them before I got them to play with me in response to the lyrics. The third time I hadn't given the child time to get to know me well enough to trust me before inviting her to join me. People won't play with a clown unless they feel comfortable with them. I also realized that I had been listening to the lyrics but she had not been paying any attention to them so she didn't understand what I wanted her to do. Once again clarity is one of the elements of success.
How can you use failure as a teacher? How can make failure a detour and get back on the path to success?
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.
Charlie's Creative Comedy
Copyright 2011 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.
All rights reserved.
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
Classes: Make Up Demonstration (Tramp) and History of Clowning, Physical Comedy, Staff on Stage Demonstration Performance, Beginning Juggling, Juggling Practice / Jam, Creative Routines with a Message: Gospel Routines
October 6-9, 2011
Classes: Comedy Magic, Strolling Entertainment
Show Me Clowns for Jesus
February 17-19, 2012
Topics to be announced
For information on additional services that I can provide for an educational event