Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #491 
July 9, 2012

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson




The California Clown Campin' program is less than three weeks away. You will find more about this in the educational opportunities column to the right. You can also read more about it in the Art Exhibit article below this week's main article. I hope to see many of my subscribers there.


I have several new subscribers. Thank you to everyone who is helping spread the word about this newsletter. For those who are new, you can read back some back issues using the archive link under the quick links section to the right. Also, if you change your email address or decide that this newsletter no longer meets your needs you can use the links at the bottom of each issue to update or cancel your subscription.


I'll pass on one tip for those who attend conventions and conferences. I always pack some Cup of Noodles and granola bars. They are light weight and don't take up much room. Sometimes food choices are limited near convention hotels. Even if there are plenty of outlets it is not always convenient to go to a restaurant. Just about every hotel now has a coffee pot in the guest rooms. Some of them are compact single cup heaters that are just the right size for a Cup of Noodles. That makes for a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal when the need arises. For example, at the recent Circus Historical Society Convention I had gone downtown at lunch time to do some errands and stop in the International Clown Hall of Fame Museum. I was gone longer than I intended. When I got back to my room I turned on the coffee maker and in less than five minutes had a satisfying meal that allowed me to get to the first lecture of the afternoon on time.


That's it for this week.


I'll see you down the road,






In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Art Exhibit
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

July 9, 2012

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself." - Chinese Proverb


When I took weekly juggling classes from Randy Pryor, he expected us to work at home between classes. Sometimes he assigned homework that he expected us to have ready the next week. For example, he asked that we select a theme and create an entertaining juggling act based on the theme to perform the following week. I selected the Clue board game. I used three different methods to make audience members select the game cards I wanted them to. Then I revealed I knew the selected cards by juggling a Green Ball (for Mr. Green), a candlestick, and a book (representing the Library). After we had performed the basic routine he wanted us to write comedy lines to accompany it. I did some for my routine which weren't too successful. One of the other students juggled three Fish crackers. Together we worked on comedy lines for her routine. Some turned out to be very good, and I have used them in other fish themed routines.


When Randy didn't give us specific assignments, he expected us to work on the tricks we were trying to master and to bring in ideas for new routines. Each week we had to demonstrate the progress we had made since he had seen us previously. Randy knew that juggling is something you can learn only by actually doing it. He realized that by holding us accountable, we would be diligent in our own practices. We had to practice during the week. Just practicing the day before class would not result in the progress that he expected.


He also knew that if we only performed the tricks he knew we would not develop to our potential. He was not trying to clone himself, but to help each of us find our unique style that would bring us the greatest success. When we showed him a new idea, he would make suggestions. Often he was able to see possible adjustments that made the trick easier to perform. By having another creative person looking at our idea, we often came up with something much stronger than either of us would have developed on our own. The main thing he did was start us on a path of discovery that allowed us to learn how to develop our own new routines so after we left his class our progress did not end.


I had another great teacher when I was taking theater classes at California State University - Long Beach. His name is Herb Camburn. I took several different classes from him including prop construction, costume crafts, advanced costume crafts, and design courses. He always expected us to challenge ourselves. His assignments were just the starting point we were to use as an opportunity to explore something that interested us. For example, making a hat was a costume craft assignment. One of my friends made an 1890 style woman's hat. He studied hats of the era. (Herb was an expert on costume, furniture, and architecture history. He would comment if he thought our research was inadequate and demand that we spend more time in the library.) He used an appropriate hat from a thrift shop as his base and embellished it with fabric, netting, feathers, and other objects so it looked like it had been constructed in that era. Another friend assembled objects purchased from thrift shops to create a crown similar to what might have been worn in ancient Thailand. I started from scratch with a piece of felt, created the forms, and blocked an oversized cowboy hat that could be used as part of a clown costume. My hat didn't turn out very good, but I got a high grade because I selected a difficult project and learned a lot in the attempt. That hat wasn't useable, but several years later I created another oversized cowboy hat that I wore in performances with the Carson & Barnes Circus. More than once Herb commented that his goal was not to teach us the content of the class, but to teach us how to challenge ourselves, strive for continued improvement, and explore new fields of interest. He said that way we would continue to learn through out our career, not just during the term of his class.


When you take a class, what work do you need to do to learn what is taught? How can you use the class content as a starting point for further exploration?

Art Exhibit


For the 2000 Northwest Festival of Clowns, I created Clowning Through The Twentieth Century, an art exhibit tracing the development of clowning during the Twentieth Century. Each pen & ink portrait of a significant clown was matted along with a one-page biography explaining their contributions to the art of clowning. Part of that exhibit will be on display during the 2012 California Clown Campin' session. Each day different drawings from the exhibit will be on display on easels for the participants to view.


Also, as part of the California Clown Campin' program, every participant will receive a print of one of my pen & ink drawings of clowns each day. These prints will be suitable for framing. They topics will vary, but they will be appropriate to something happening on that day. I will include a tribute to Bert Williams during my Staff on Stage show, and the participants will receive a portrait of Bert Williams. On the day of the auction benefiting the Don Burda Scholarship, participants will receive a portrait of Don. At my general session on my circus experiences, participants will receive a drawing of me performing one of my circus routines. We have some special surprises in store that I think people will enjoy. Use the link on the right to learn more about this educational program.



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.
California Clown Campin'

July 30 - August 5, 2012

San Bernardino, CA



Creative Gospel Routines, Silk Magic for Clowns, Circus Memories, How to Juggle - Introduction, Trick Cartoons, Physical Comedy, Juggling Jam, and Staff on Stage.


California Clown Campin Information




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

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