Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #418 
November 14, 2011

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson




I am pleased to announce another educational opportunity.  The Big Foot Clown Alley of Fife, WA has invited me to present my session on strolling entertainment at their meeting on March 13.  This is a two-hour lecture/demonstration similar to what I presented at the recent Comedifest.  Because I use feedback from participants to constantly fine tume my lectures, and because I customize my lectures to fit a particular group it will be a little different than the lecture I presented last month.  I give groups that book one of my lectures the choice of restricting it to their members so it is a more intimate experience or to open it up to anyone interested in attending.  The board of the Big Foot Clown Alley decided to open the lecture up to attendance by guests.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest and are not a member of the Big Foot Clown Alley this will give you a chance to meet this group and possibly become a member.  Their meeting will begin at 6:30 and I will begin my presentation at 7:00 PM.  Use the link under the Educational Opportunities column to find more information.


December 1 is the deadline for the early registration deadline for the Show Me Clowns For Jesus gospel clown ministry conference.  I mentioned it last week, but didn't notice that the link had gotten erased.  The link for more information is back under the Educational Opportunities column to the right.


I'll see you down the road,


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

Thought For The Week 

November 14, 2011

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"So we always said the first thing to do was to get onstage. Get onstage. Because that's where you're going to learn all your skills, primarily." - Tom Smothers, quoted in Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour, by David Bianculli


"The WORK will teach you how to do it." --Estonian proverb


Often we describe something like a magic sleight of hand move or a juggling trick as a skill. However, for an entertainer they are more accurately described as a tool. They are not a goal in themselves, but are used to achieve another goal.


Live entertainment is an interaction with an audience. The trick is just an excuse to have an interaction. An entertainer's goal is to create a memorable moment. Often an entertainer's goal is to elicit a specific emotion from audience members. That might be joy, wonder, amazement, or other feelings. Sometimes an entertainer's goal is to motivate or inspire audience members. The goal of many entertainers is to effectively teach a lesson. An entertainer's goal may be to connect with members of the audience and make them feel special.


Specific variety arts tricks are tools that you use to achieve those goals. You can't achieve those goals working in a vacuum. The only way to learn to interact with audience members is to actually interact with them. Audience feedback will start to teach you the skills you need to be able to use your tools properly.


Timing is one of the skills you need to learn, and you learn it through trial and error. It is natural to rush too much in the beginning. As you observe other performers and gain experience you learn that you get better response by slowing your delivery down. You start to give the audience time to understand and appreciate what you are doing. Verbal comedy often involves the audience members thinking of one meaning of a word, and then you surprise them by switching to another meaning of that word. If you don't give them time to think what you want them to, there is no surprise when you switch. You discover that in magic there is no surprise when you open your hand revealing it is empty if you didn't allow time for the audience to realize that there was supposed to be something in your hand. Eventually you slow down too much. Audience members guess the surprise. They figure out the punchline before you deliver it or they realize the hiding place for the object that is supposed to be in your hand. So you speed up a little more until you get the results you want. As you gain more experience you discover that the exact same timing doesn't work with every audience. You need to adjust your timing for each audience. Gradually you learn how to do that.


There are other skills you learn on stage. You learn how to improvise to connect more deeply with audience members. You learn routining because you discover that tricks in a certain order get better response than others. When things go wrong you learn how to recover, set your audience at ease, and continue without the mistake interfering with your concentration. You learn how to cope with a rush of adrenalin. All of these are things that you can't learn in practice. You have to learn them through actual performance.


How do you get on stage? One way is to volunteer for a charitable cause that you believe in. That way you are gaining valuable experience and giving back to your community.


Another way is to join a variety arts organization. Local magic clubs often include an Open Mike opportunity at their monthly meetings.   This gives you a chance to get some experience on stage. (Warning: A group of magicians or other entertainers are not a "normal" audience.) Many clubs produce an annual fundraising show you can participate in. Large organizations hold conventions where you can enter competitions or perform in an Open Mike show. Educational programs like California Clown Campin' also provide Open Mike opportunities.


What opportunities do you have to get on stage?

Article by Bruce Johnson 
The November issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association, contains an article that I wrote titled The Music Box.  This article is part of my WCA Historian's column.  In the article I trace the history of a specific circus clown act.  I include a version from about 1950, one from 1998, and one from this year's Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Gold Unit.  I explain how clowns have approached this act creatively to demonstrate how you can be creative in your approach to classic routines.  For more information on joining the WCA, which includes a subscription to Clowning Around 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.
Show Me Clowns for Jesus
February 17-19, 2012
Springfield, MO
Topics to be announced


Big Foot Clown Alley

Tuesday March 13, 2012

7-9 PM

(Meeting starts at 6:30) 

Fife, WA

Strolling Entertainment


Big Foot Clowns 




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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