Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #424 
January 9, 2012

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson




The Show Me Clowns For Jesus conference is five weeks away.  I will be teaching an intensive two-hour preconference class which will be mainly hands on instruction in my favorite and most effective gospel magic effects.  You will be able to adapt what you learn in class to teach a great variety of lessons.  This class will include a demonstration of how I create customized silk scarves for use in my performances.  I will be announcing the other classes that I will be teaching there in an upcoming newsletter.  I highly recommend this conference for anyone interested in Clown Ministry.  You can find out more about this program by using the link under Educational Opportunities to the right.


I normally use this newsletter to promote educational events that I will be attending.  One reason is that I have first hand knowledge of those educational programs and believe in them or I would not be participating.  I am making an exception to that policy in this issue with information on the Clown Intensive being hosted next month by the International Clown Hall of Fame.  It is an educational event I would be participating in if I wasn't already scheduled to be someplace else.  I know that I have many subscribers from the midwest who miss the Clown Camp program that was held in La Crosse.  This intensive is in the same region and features instructors who were on the Clown Camp staff.  If you are interested in circus style clowning I highly recommend this class. You can read more details in the last article in this issue.


I am focusing on Creativity in this issue.  I believe that developing your creative abilities are vital to success as a variety artist.  I also believe that everyone can learn to be more creative.  The principles that I am highlighting here come from my book titled Creativity For Entertainers Volume One: The Creative Process.  I believe that even if you have read my book you will benefit from a reminder of those principles.  However, for the main article in this issue I didn't want to just repeat the examples that I used in the book.  So I have used some more recent examples.  The end product was not something that I have used in performance, but following the process can give you an end product that you can use as an entertainer.


My wife Carole often asks how I keep coming up with ideas for this newsletter.  Part of the answer is that I stay engaged in life.  I attend variety arts classes to continue my education, read widely, remain active as a performer, and try to approach all aspects of my life in a creative manner.  Those experiences inspire ideas to pass on to you.


I'll see you down the road,




In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Are You Creative?
Clown Intensive at the ICHOF
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

January 9, 2012

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

 "It's not enough to be creative if you can't execute. It's not enough to execute if all you are building is something that people don't want." - Lance Nokumiru, Verifone


In Creativity for Entertainers Volume One: The Creative Process, I describe two phases to the creative process. They are the imaginative phase and the practical phase. During the imaginative phase your goal is to think of something different. During the practical phase your goal is to get something done. You have to be able to complete both phases to be effective. I'll use some recent examples from my life that aren't performance related. However, the principles are the same. The creative process is identical. Exercising your creativity in any part of your life will improve your ability to be a more creative entertainer.


A game called "What Is It?" is often used in creativity classes and improvisational shows. The group is given an object and then each person has to use it as if it is a different object. That type of thinking helps in being creative. For example, last spring my Cub Scout Pack was having a model rocket rodeo. I wanted to build a creative rocket. The first thing I did was start to consider other long slender objects. Being from the Pacific Northwest one of the things I thought of was a totem pole. Then I began thinking about things on a totem pole. Poles frequently include bear, beaver, orca, eagle, and raven images. There is a story about Raven stealing the light and fleeing into the sky. When Eagle chased him, Raven broke chunks off the light to throw at Eagle. Those chunks became the sun, moon, and stars. Raven is often shown on totem poles with a circle of light held in his beak. So, I built a rocket that was a flying totem pole depicting Eagle chasing Raven into the sky. (In Creativity for Entertainers Volume One: The Creative Process I describe how I have used this technique to create props for performance.)


Sometimes the imaginative phase requires research. I am currently working on a car to enter the sibling and adult heat at my Cub Scout Pack's Pineword Derby. I decided that I wanted to turn it into a circus wagon. So I studied pictures and models that I have of circus wagons. I decided to make it a cage wagon and found examples of how those wagons were decorated. Then I based my wagon on that knowledge.


The practical phase requires planning. I started building my Pinewood Derby car by drawing a possible design. I discovered that the way I was thinking about doing the decorations on the side would have interfered with the rotation of the wheels. I needed to change the pattern to move the decorations further away from the wheels. I didn't want to start over in making the drawing so I used tracing paper to copy the parts I liked and made my changes. I eventually made four drawings before I was satisfied with the appearance. Then I used tracing paper to make a drawing of how the pieces would fit together. For example, I wanted the floor to be a solid piece with the ends sitting on top of it. So I decided how thick to make the floor, drew that in, and then drew the ends on top. I drew all of the pieces I would need to fit together. I was able to spot flaws in my design and correct them before I actually began cutting anything out. I made the drawings actual size so by the time I was finished I could measure the exact size I needed for each piece. In some cases I traced the pattern directly on the wood.


Sometimes entertainers praise a routine somebody has performed as being artistic because it is different. But just being different is not enough. At a minimum it has to be pleasing to the audience. The practical phase requires judging your ideas. First, is it worth while? Is it an improvement? Does it achieve what you want to accomplish? Is there a better way to do it?


Do you actively seek new ideas? What techniques do you use to generate ideas? How can you come up with more ideas? Do you evaluate your ideas? Are they useful? Are they the best choice? Once you have an idea how can you execute it? What planning will help make it a reality? What steps do you need to take to develop a final product? What is the first step that you need to take? How can you get started on that step?


To read more about Creativity For Entertainers Volume One go to

Creativity For Entertainers Volume One


Are You Creative?
Which response do you think describes you the best?
A. I am very creative.
B. I am a little creative.
C. I am not creative at all.
Now click on the link to read the importance of your answer in this excerpt from Creativity For Entertainers Volume One: The Creative Process.

Clown Intensive at the ICHOF


The International Clown Hall of Fame is hosting an intensive clown course February 14-18, 2012 in Baraboo, WI.  By participating you would be continuing your education and honoring the great clowns of the past and present by supporting the International Clown Hall of Fame.


The instructors are Kenny Ahern, Karen DeSanto, and Greg DeSanto.  All three of them are former Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Clowns.


Kenny was one of the core group of Clown Camp instructors, and was an instructor at the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Clown College.  I have had the pleasure of attending his classes many times and always learned something from him.  I am a better clown today due to Kenny's influence.


Greg and Karen are an outstanding pair of clowns.  For many years they were featured at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo.  Greg is the new International Clown Hall of Fame Director.  For the first time the ICHOF Director is somebody who is an expert on clown history.  When Greg was on the road with the RBB&B Circus he used his knowledge of clown history in creating many of the featured acts performed by the Blue Unit clowns.  He has continued to to use that knowledge in creating routines that Karen and Greg perform.


In addition to the classes taught by this trio of instructors, you will be able to see rare treasures from the International Clown Hall of Fame archives.  This is a unique opportunity to experience clown history.


International Clown Hall of Fame

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 2012 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
Two-hour preconference intensive on Gospel Magic
Additional 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


The Art of Clowning Exhibit (Clown portraits created by Bruce Johnson)


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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