I realize that because I am fortunate to have subscribers from around the world my readers come from different cultures and faiths. Most religions have some type of celebration around this time of year. As a Christian, I celebrate Christmas. To many people Chrismas is a secular celebration, but to me it is a spiritual occasion. Regardless of your personal beliefs, the celebration of Christmas as a spiritual holiday and as a secular celebration has played an important role in the development of clowning and other variety arts over the centuries. In this newsletter issue you will find information on an article I wrote detailing some of the history of clowns and the celebration of Christmas.
Also, in this issue you will find another installment of my history trivia quiz. This feature has proven to be a favorite with readers. I have learned that several people click on what they consider to be the best answer, and then also click on the other answer because I supply different information with each one. Many people have decided to join my readers since the first trivia questions appeared. Following the question in this issue, you will find a link to my trivia quiz archive where you can read the previous 21 questions and answers.
I belong to many organizations to increase my variety arts knowledge and understanding. Two of the organizations that I belong to, The Circus Fans of America Association and the World Clown Association, have recently developed a relationship. Realizing that their interests overlap the two groups are going to work together in promoting the circus and clowning. They are beginning by exchanging ads in their membership publications. I just received the December issue of White Tops, published by the CFA, with a WCA ad and an article by Sue Kleinwachter, the WCA Marketing Director. One of the areas that I see the potential for the two organizations to work together and exchange ideas is education for young people. The CFA supports the American Youth Circus Association training young people in the circus arts. The WCA has a Junior Joey program training young people in clowning. By working together the two associations can further the developmint of the art of circus clowning.
I know that one of the greatest expenses of attending a convention can be transportation. People tend to attend the conventions that are closest to them. In 2012, the CFA convention will be in Florida and the WCA covention will be in California. Several of the 2012 CFA convention speakers are clowns. The featured entertainers at the 2012 WCA convention are graduates of the RBB&B Clown College. I believe that members of both organizations would enjoy the convention held by the other group. Of course, their own convention would be most relevant to the members. However, if the cost of travel is preventing you from attending one convention, check out the other convention to see how it can meet your needs.
I hope that you and your family all have a very happy holiday season.
I'll see you down the road,
Thought For The Week
December 12, 2011
By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson
"I have noticed these days 'louder' seems to mean 'better.' I think people feel like it makes more of an impact. Ironically, it's the opposite: When music is very quiet, the impact is much greater." - Alan Menken, movie music composer
I have noticed in some of the variety shows I have performed in the first thing many of the performers tell the sound technician is "crank the volume way up on my music." I began asking that my music be played softer because with my interactive style of performance I get audience members talking to me and I want to be able to hear what they are saying. When I began trying to create a sense of wonder during some of my performances I started choosing some quieter songs and it seemed to work better if the volume was softer. When I began using royalty free music created for variety artists I discovered that other entertainers often were using the same songs. (Randy Christensen and Arthur Stead both produce wonderful royalty free music that is used by many entertainers.) I noticed an interesting thing. After the show people would frequently comment that they liked the music that I used the best. Often they comment on the mood created by my music, and that they were able to relax and enjoy my performance. I got that reaction even when it was the same music used by others in the show. The difference was the volume at which it was played.
When I am doing a Gospel Clown Ministry performance I have some routines that are just for fun and some routines that present a lesson. In some of my other performances, especially at variety arts conferences, I often include a motivational routine. I have learned that if I use more up tempo music for my fun routines, and quieter music for the serious routines the effectiveness of both is increased because we judge things by contrast. When I can control the sound myself I turn down the volume for the serious routines and turn it up for the fun routines. There is definitely a place for more volume and energy. There is also a place for less volume and energy.
I saw the effectiveness of contrast in a live concert by John Denver. His next to last song was "Calypso" with his entire band and back up singers. It was a high energy song that brought the audience to their feet. Then everyone left the stage. John returned alone for his encore, sat on a stool, and accompanied only by his own guitar, quietly sang "For You." The contrast made the beauty of his voice and lyrics stand out. The audience sat silently in rapt attention. It is a moment that I will never forget.
I have observed entertainers who present motivational routines, for example Oscar Munoz, will not only use quieter music for those routines but speak in a quieter tone of voice.
Something I learned from Stan Allen, a magician and puppeteer, is that if an audience starts to get noisy and you want to attract their attention you need to get quieter. If you get louder, the audience will get louder. It is almost as if they think as long as you are speaking louder they aren't interrupting you. Because they can hear you, they believe everyone else can hear as well. They seem to start speaking louder so the person they are talking to can hear them. However, if you speak more quietly they will also become quiet because they want to hear what you are saying.
When Oprah Winfrey made announcements or introductions on her television program, she often would shout to express her excitement. I have seen other performers do that, especially when introducing somebody. I found it to be counter productive. They don't articulate well in the attempt to produce more volume and I often can't understand what they are shouting. I have realized that the most effective emcees that I know will lead up to the introduction, pause, and then quietly announce the person's name. Not only is it clearer, but it gives it greater emphasis.
How can you experiment with volume? What happens if you reduce the volume of music that you have been using? How can you use quietness to increase the impact of your presentation? How can you use contrast to increase the effectiveness of both loud and soft moments?
|History Trivia Quiz|
Click on the answer you feel is most correct.
The voice of Goofy in the Walt Disney Studio cartoons was performed by
The answer links will be good until January 1, 2012. After that date go to the history trivia quiz archive to check your answer.
|Clowns in Christmas Celebrations|
For centuries clowns have played important roles in the celebration of Christmas. They have both affected their culture and been influenced by their culture.
I recently posted an article on my web site about the history of clowns and Christmas. This article was part of my World Clown Association Historian column and originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Clowning Around.
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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.
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Show Me Clowns for Jesus
February 17-19, 2012
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Big Foot Clown Alley
Tuesday March 13, 2012
(Meeting starts at 6:30)
Big Foot Clowns
California Clown Campin'
July 30 - August 5, 2012
San Bernardino, CA
The Art of Clowning Exhibit (Clown portraits created by Bruce Johnson)
Classes: To Be Announced
California Clown Campin Information
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