Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #499 
October 22, 2012

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



I have some more news to share about the 2013 World Clown Association Convention in Borneo.


First, I have been invited to present my lecture titled Jest Because as a general session. In this lecture I talk about the links between humor and health and between humor and creativity.


Second, this convention is unusual in that there are activities for Spouses and Supporters of Clowns. This program is for people who attend the convention because they are related to a clown or otherwise interested in clowning without being aren't interested in performing as a clown themselves. They will be able to enjoy sight seeing in this fascinating location. They will also be able to attend sessions on topics they might be interested in. I have been invited to talk about what it is like to be a circus clown in one of those sessions. This will be an entirely different lecture than the one I gave at California Clown Campin' this past August. I appeared in circuses for over six years so I have plenty of experiences to relate about that specialty of clowning.


You can find out more about this convention by using the link under the Educational Opportunities column to the right.


I'll see you down the road





In This Issue
Thought For The Week
New Article
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

October 22, 2012

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"Although there may be nothing new under the sun, what is old is new to us and so rich and astonishing that we never tire of it. If we do tire of it, if we lose our curiosity, we have lost something of infinite value, because to a high degree it is curiosity that gives meaning and savor to life." -- Robertson Davies


Sometimes people are contemptuous of anything they consider old. They are interested only in what they consider innovative and new. One of the innovations people credit to the New Circus movement is combining circus acts and theatrical story lines. However it really is not an innovation. In 1927, Poodles Hanneford appeared in the American debut of an operetta titled "The Circus Princess". The original production had premiered in Vienna the previous year. The first act and finale of the operetta take place during a circus performance and the audience sees some circus acts perform. Reading about Hanneford's performance made me curious about the operetta. So I recently watched a DVD of a 1969 German television production of "The Circus Princess". It was interesting, especially a third-act comedy scene set in a hotel.  "The Circus Princess" was not the first theatrical circus production in New York. New York's Hippodrome Theater frequently integrated circus and plot in their productions between 1905 and 1923. For example, in "A Trip to Japan" spies used a circus as cover for their travels. So this "new" type of production is actually over 100 years old. Those who are hailing its introduction just don't realize its history. Although it is old, it is fresh and exciting for those who have never seen a theatrical circus production.


Last weekend I watched a PBS American Masters biography of Johnny Carson. One of the interesting points they made was that Johnny could have earned a living as a professional drummer. He was capable of doing some things with his hands that other drummers found amazing. He credited that to the dexterity that he had developed while practicing card magic as a youngster. Last weekend I also watched Johnny Carson appearing as a guest on the Jack Benny Program in 1963. In this episode Johnny performs some card flourishes and then plays a drum solo. As a drummer he did something that fascinated me. He rested one stick against the head of a drum and then brushed it with the other stick. It provided a very interesting sound that I don't remember hearing before. I enjoyed seeing him perform both skills after learning about the link between the two. I don't know that I will ever put this new knowledge to practical use, but it has made my life fuller.


I saw a performance of Tama Sudare at Clown Camp several years ago. It is a bamboo mat that can be twisted into many different shapes. It is similar in some ways to the European act called Trouble Wit. It was something that I had never seen before and I was curious about it. So, I began asking questions. I learned it is an ancient Japanese performing art that has recently been revived. I obtained the necessary props and started practicing it. I used it in a few performances and then stopped using it for a while. Now I am starting to practice it again. It gives greater variety to my repertoire. Because it is old enough that people consider it to be new it makes my act unique. On the internet I have seen some photos of Tama Sudare creations. I know just enough about the art to be amazed by what people have been able to achieve. Above all it is fun to do. I would probably still practice it just for my own enjoyment even if I never perform it again. It is interesting trying to see what things I can do.


Sometimes I do things just to satisfy my curiosity. The Cub Scout Pack that I am involved with has an annual Pinewood Derby where wooden model cars are raced down an inclined track. I decided to enter a car in the sibling and adult category this year. I could have just made a car, but I wanted to see what else I could accomplish. So, I built a circus wagon. In the process I had to experiment with different techniques. It was a lot of fun.


What are you curious about? How can you satisfy your curiosity just for fun? How can you use old entertainment ideas in your new performances?

New Article by Bruce Johnson

An article I wrote in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of the movie Cecil B. DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" appears in the September 2012 issue of Clowning Around published by the World Clown Association. This is part of my WCA Historian column. In the article I provide a little background on the creation of the movie and identify as many clowns as possible who appeared in the film. While the story is fictional the scenes shot on the circus document an important part of clown history. The film is available on DVD so it can be studied by clowns today. Jackie LeClaire, who appeared in the film, provided a lot of the information that I used in the article.

 For information on membership in the World Clown Association, which includes a subscription to Clowning Around, go to
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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.
World Clown
Association Convention Borneo
 February 25 - March 1, 2013


Jest Because, The Life of a Circus Clown


WCA Convention


All Things Clowning

April 19-21

Fayetteville, Georgia

Classes to be announced 



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

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