Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #414 
October 3, 2011

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson





One of my subscribers commented on how much information I am planning to cover during my Strolling Entertainment class this weekend at Comedifest.  I am able to do that because the class periods at Comedifest are two hours in length.  It is not too late to register for this unique educational program.  You can do that using the link under the Educational Opportunities column to the right.


If you live in the Pacific Northwest and are not able to attend the entire Comedifest program, there are two evening shows that are open to the public.  This includes an opportunity to shop in the Comedistore.  You can find information on this as well by using the link under the Educational Opportunities column.


In the information below about two new articles I wrote that are now in print you will read about an article inspired by a question I was asked about clown history.  Part of my job description as World Clown Association Historian is answering questions by other entertainers and the general public.  You are welcome to do that.  Send me a question you have about clown history, and I will do my best to answer it for you.  It may even inspire another magazine article.


I hope to see many of my subscribers this weekend at Comedifest in Portland, OR.  I will be attending some of the lectures by other staff members so the easiest way to find me is at my dealer table.  I consider my dealer table to be an extension of the class room.  I will be glad to answer questions, demonstrate and teach anything for sale on my table, or just say hello.  Please stop by my table. 


I'll see you down the road,


In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Articles by Bruce Johnson
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

October 3, 2011

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson




"Establish a policy of taking all criticism as friendly. Once you insist to yourself that the other person is well intentioned, you'll get value from legitimate criticism, if there's any there to get, and you won't be bothered by the rest. When you concede a critic's good will, you disarm an attacker and encourage an ally." - Carroll O'Connor


Most people become defensive when they are criticized because it feels like you are being personally attacked. That is especially true if you put your heart and tremendous effort into something you have done. You feel that you have invested a part of yourself in it, and any criticism is not just directed at that particular project or effort but is directed at you personally.


However, being defensive prevents you from benefiting from criticism. Trying to explain why what you chose to do was right keeps you from considering how your choice could have been better.


Carroll O'Connor's advice removes the perception that you are under attack. Assuming the person is trying to help, not hurt, does not trigger your defenses.


Then you can unemotionally consider the validity of the feed back you receive. If you decide that the criticism is valid you can consider ways to put it into action. If you decide that the criticism is well intentioned but misguided, you can forget it.


One of the ways in which I receive criticism is evaluation forms filled out when I lecture. Some educational programs compile the comments from each class and forward them to the presenter. Because they are just a list of comments I do not know who made them. So I assume that if somebody took the time to fill the form out they were trying to be helpful.


Although I try to be very organized for my lectures, I received one comment earlier this year that a lecture I gave was unorganized. I decided that was not a valid comment because that class had unusual circumstances. The instructor before me ran over so I had less than two minutes to get set up before my class began. Also, there was no table in the front of the room. I had to put all the visual aids that I planned to use on one chair and then put them on another chair when I finished with them. That made it difficult to immediately find what I wanted to use. (Since then I have tried to make sure that a table is available for my use.) Later in the year I received another comment about not being organized enough for a class. That means I need to try to figure out what caused that perception. The majority of my feedback is that my classes are extremely organized, but I am always trying to improve.


Sometimes a comment seems like it isn't valid, but upon further reflection it turns out to be very useful. Assuming that the person meant to help you means you can reconsider what they said. I received a comment that where I stood during a lecture blocked the screen so people couldn't see my PowerPoint slides. My first reaction was that since there were plenty of empty seats the participants should have sat where they could see the screen. However, I discussed the comment with Lee Mullally, who is an expert on education. He said that speakers are usually trained to stand downstage because it is easier to connect with people if you are closer to them. Lee said that principle isn't always valid when using PowerPoint. If the PowerPoint screen isn't higher than your head you should stand beside it so you don't block anyone's view of it. So, not being defensive allowed me to eventually benefit from the comment.


If somebody knows they can make a critical comment without you getting defensive, they are more likely to make additional comments that may be helpful. (I am better at this in my professional life, than my personal one.) If somebody is trying to upset you, but they don't get the result they desire, they don't have any reason to continue.


How can you develop an attitude that criticism is friendly? How can you evaluate criticism to determine what is valid and what is misguided?


Articles by Bruce Johnson

 I wrote two articles that appear in the September 2011 issue of Clowning Around magazine, published by the World Clown Association.
The first, titled Mime and Clowning, was inspired by a question from Chelle Stevens, editor of the magazine.  She has a graphic design background which has really improved the appearance of the magazine.  However, she does not have a clowning background.  She has been studying the subject, and asking me interesting questions as the World Clown Association Historian.  She wanted to know how the art of mime fits into the history of clowning, and why articles on mime were not published in the magazine.  My answer to her formed the basis for the article.  I hope that others will write articles about how they use mime or other variety arts skills.
The second article is titled Batter Up, Baseball Clowns.  It is part of my World Clown Association Historian column.  It was timed to coincide with the baseball playoffs in America.  It focuses on two aspects, how circus clowns have used baseball as a basis for an act and how clowns have performed at baseball games. It includes some information on a team known as the Indianapolis Clowns.  (Chelle used their team logo as part of the article's headline.)  There is a different article about the Indianapolis Clowns on my web site.  It was originally written for my own publication titled The Clown In Times.
I am excited about the next two articles in my World Clown Association Historian column.  The upcoming one in the November issue traces the history of a specific clown act known as The Music Box or You Can't Do That Here.  The article for the December issue is a profile of Oleg Popov, a famous clown from the Moscow State Circus.  You can read both of those upcoming articles, and additional educational articles by Lee Mullally, Norm Barnhart, and others, by joining the World Clown Association.  For more information 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.

October 6-9, 2011
Portland, OR
Classes: Comedy Magic, Strolling Entertainment
Show Me Clowns for Jesus
February 17-19, 2012
Springfield, MO
Topics to be announced


California Clown Campin'

July 30 - August 5, 2012

San Bernardino, CA


Classes:  To Be Announced 


California Clown Campin Information



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

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