Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #510 
March25, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

Happy Holy Week to my subscribers who are Christians and Happy Passover to my subscribers who are Jewish.

This issue includes another entry in my popular Clown History Trivia Quiz.


Thank you to everyone who has helped spread the word about this newsletter. I have recently had the largest number of new subscribers in a long time. I know that many of them learned about this newsletter through Face Book. I have my own page on Face Book now and am gradually learning how to use and manage it.


Here are some reminders about this newsletter. When I began it, my intention was to change an article on my web site each Monday. That would help drive visits to my site which at that time was the basis for search engine ranking. (Now search engines use different criteria.) Soon I had some people ask if I could email the articles to them. This newsletter has always been driven by the needs of the readers so I began a subscription list. My schedule does not allow me to produce an issue every Monday. Sometimes it is later in the week by the time that I send it out. Sometimes several weeks go by between issues. To keep things consistent in my records I label each issue with the date of the Monday of the week that it is sent.


I use Constant Contact to manage and send my newsletters. If you change your email address you can easily change the address where this newsletter is sent by using the Update Profile/Email Address link at the bottom of each newsletter. (If you send your new address to me I don't always get it transferred correctly.) When this newsletter no longer meets your needs you can use the Safe Unsubscribe link at the bottom of each newsletter to have your name permanently removed from my mailing list.


Under the Hot Links section to the lower right you will find a link for an archive of issues of this newsletter since I began using the Constant Contact service. You will also find links to content on my web site. The Information About Clowns section has articles of general interest related to clowning, including a section of history articles. You can go directly to the history section using the Additional History Articles link. An occasional clown history trivia question has been part of this newsletter. You will find an archive of those questions using the History Trivia link.   The Information For Clowns section has articles on topics of special interest to entertainers. The Books by Bruce link will take you to information on my publications while the Props by Bruce link will take you to information on products that I sell over the internet or when I have a dealer table.


Because this newsletter is accessible to the general public I do not reveal any magic methods here. However, when I refer to a magic trick I try to let you know where to find information on the method used.


The All Things Clown Conference in Georgia is less than a month away. You can read more about it by using the link under the Educational Opportunities column to the right. I hope to see many Thought for the Week Subscribers there.


I'll see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
History Trivia Quiz
New Article by Bruce Johnson
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

March 25, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them." - Chinese Proverb


I attended the first Laugh-Makers Conference in La Crosse, WI in 1986. At the end of the week long conference the staff and participants went to the CircusWorldMuseum in Baraboo where Jimmy "Happy" Williams was the resident clown. After one of the performances, Bob Gibbons, the publisher of Laugh-Makers magazine, took a small group of us backstage to meet Happy. A young child was visiting Happy, who performed a magic trick where the child found the four Aces in a shuffled deck. After the child left, Happy offered to teach the routine to us. I started performing that trick myself at Raging Waters that summer, and it quickly became one of my favorites.


I don't know who created the Four Ace Trick. It is known by many magicians and is considered in the public domain. I included directions for performing it in my book titled reativity for Entertainers Volume Three: Creative Routines. It is also in my pamphlet titled Charlie the Clown Presents Introduction to Magic. Carole and I have taught it many times, including to young people interested in learning magic. It appears in the March/April 2013 issue of New Calliope.


I discovered that the basic concept is very useful, and have created many variations on the effect over the years.


The first variation was based on realizing that it did not have to be performed using the Aces. Any appropriate cards in a poker deck can be used as long as their significance is known or can be revealed. For example, in 1991 I was hired to entertain at a party for a woman turning 40. She had always wanted a party with a clown when she was a child, but her parents couldn't afford it so her husband made her dream come true on this significant birthday. When she did the trick, and the cards were turned over they were the Three of Hearts, Nine of Hearts, Five of Hearts, and Ace of Hearts. There was a little response when audience members realized that each of the cards was a heart. I gazed at the cards for a moment, and then, as if I had just made a discovery, said, "That's 3-9-51. Isn't that the day you were born?" Then I got a tremendous reaction from the audience.


I had heard many magicians say, "You can't perform card magic for kids." I realized that the reason many card tricks don't work for kids is that they are performed with poker decks. Kids don't have any experience with that type of deck and don't know what the suits are called. I switched to performing card magic using decks for children's games. An Animal Rummy deck has four duplicates of each animal, making it ideal for a Four Ace trick. Instead of finding the four aces, the child found each matching card of one animal.


In school supply stores I discovered Sequencing Decks. These decks have cards depicting four steps in a process, for example, a baby girl, a teenage girl, a mother, and a grandmother. Child play games where they try to collect cards in one sequence. Using this type of deck for the trick means the child would find all of the cards in one sequence in the correct order.


However, my creativity would not have occurred if Happy had not planted the seed through his generosity in teaching that trick to a group of entertainers that he was meeting for the first time in 1986. I always think of Happy each time I perform the trick or teach it to others. I still perform it over a quarter of a century after first learning it.


In 2009, Carole and I visited the CircusWorldMuseum. While there I met Jimmy "Happy" Williams again. I was glad to have the opportunity to thank him for teaching me the Four Ace trick, to explain how valuable it has been to me, and to tell him what an inspiration it had been. He seemed very pleased to learn that he had made an important contribution to my career.


What decks can you use when performing card tricks for children? When you perform magic, how can you change the original props to something your audience can relate to better?


Who planted seeds for your career or routines that you have created? How can you keep them in mind? How can you contact them to tell them what impact they had upon you? How can you pay tribute to them so others understand their contribution?

History Trivia Quiz
Click on the link that you think is the most correct.  (These links will remain active until May 1)
The International Clown Hall of Fame Inductee whose father was a clown with the Hagenbeck Wallace Circus was
New Article by Bruce Johnson
An article I wrote with instructions for performing the Four Ace trick and describing many variations appears in the March/April 2013 issue of New Calliope, published by Clowns of America International.  The editor changed the name of the article to Happy Aces, which I think was supposed to be a tribute to Jimmy Williams, but then edited out all references to Jimmy from the article.
The author photo accompanying the article is actually Neal "Roger" Skoy.  
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 2013 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.


All Things Clowning

April 19-21

Fayetteville, Georgia


Dare to be a Great Clown, Introduction to Comedy Techniques, Controlling Focus, Introduction to Sleight of Hand, Character Development and Expression from the Inside Out


All Things Clown Convention 


 California Clown Campin'

July 29-August 3, 2013

Ontario, CA

Classes to be announced


California Clown Campin'

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

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