Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #514 
June 24, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


I attended the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound Showcase, a convention for Old Time Radio fans, this past weekend. It was a great event. There were recreations of old radio shows that featured stars from the old days of theater. Tommy Cook, who at the age of 83 was the convention's honored guest, recreated the role of Alexander, Baby Snooks' boyfriend, which he originated as a young man. There were educational sessions and a dealer room with memorabilia and educational material available. I learned a lot while I was there. I also did a lecture on radio comedy techniques that was very well received. There were other clowns in attendance because studying Old Time Radio is a great way to learn about verbal comedy.


The theme for the 2014 World Clown Association, which will be held in Chicago, is Chicago Radio and Television. In 1931 there were over 200 national radio shows broadcast from Chicago, more than from any other location. Famous radio comedy programs including Amos and Andy, Vic and Sade, Fibber McGee and Molly, Life with Luigi. Lum and Abner, and Easy Aces were all broadcast from Chicago. I will be using information I developed for my REPS Showcase presentation to write a short column on radio techniques and how they can be used today. The column will appear in Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association.


California Clown Campin' in Ontario is only a month away. I think it is going to be a great program. I am excited about meeting Monika Kelly, the daughter of Emmett Kelly, who will be speaking at California Clown Campin'. A one-day registration is available for those who can't spend the entire week at the camp. Also, on Friday evening there will be a public show performed by the staff and participants. For more information, use the link under the Educational Opportunities column.  I hope to see many of my subscribers there.


I learned today that Dorothy "Bladigail" Miller passed away this morning.  I know that many of my subscribers knew Dorothy through her involvement with the World Clown Association and with the U-W Clown Camp.  Dorothy was honored as the WCA Clown of the Year in 1995.  I was blessed to know Dorothy and treasure many memories of her.


I'll see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
New Article
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

June 24, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"What being funny is - if you reduce that, the root is the word 'fun.' And it's some one who knows how to have fun, the way kids do. That part of you stays vital in comedy. You never give up just wanting to play and have fun." - Jerry Seinfeld

A couple of years ago I was walking on the beach with my sister and father. I picked up a clam shell and through it like a Frisbee into the water. My sister commented, "My brother always has to have his toys."


It has been said that play is the business of childhood. Children learn valuable lessons through playing. I still make play part of my business. That has been the origin of some of my clown and magic routines. I start playing with a prop just to see what is possible with it. I have fun with it. When I created my golf act, I took a rubber ball and a golf club to a park and played around with them. I tried to find as many ways to hit the ball as I could. For example, I missed the ball with the swing, but hit it when I brought the club back so the ball went in the wrong direction. I swung, missed the ball, but hit the toe of my foot instead. I used the club as a cue stick to sink the ball like a billiard ball. I hit the ground with the club so hard that it rebounded hitting me in the forehead motivating a backward fall. I just had fun exploring without being concerned about what would be useable. Then I took the best ideas and put them into a logical order. I began performing the routine as part of the preshow with the Carson & Barnes Circus in 1980. I listened to audience reaction and edited out the portions that didn't get the response I was looking for. In 1981 I began performing the routine as an act in the Carson & Barnes Circus. I continued performing it as a circus act for five more years in appearances with the Funs-A-Poppin and Family Showcase Theater.


I also play during my performances. When I do strolling entertainment at festivals in the Seattle area I often see a large sculpture created from water jugs, hub caps, and other objects. A container of drumsticks is nearby so guests can explore the sounds made by hitting the sculpture. I start juggling my clubs. I try to strike the sculpture with my clubs between throws. (This is inspired by seeing Kenny Ahern perform a routine where he strikes a metal mixing bowl with his clubs.) It is fun to attempt it, and people standing nearby always seem to get a kick out of it. I often notice that the number of people using drumsticks increases after they have seen me.


Lord Baden Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, said, "Scouting is fun with a purpose."


In the training that I have received from the Boy Scouts of America they emphasize that character development is one of the purposes of scouting. However, they stress that lecturing to boys will not achieve that goal because the boys will not pay attention. Instead the scouting method is to provide a program the boys think is fun and then slip the message into that program. For example, the theme for December is respect. One way that I covered that was to have the boys sing "Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer." Then I said, "At first the other reindeer didn't respect Rudolph because he was different, he had a shiny nose. After they discovered that there was an advantage to his shiny nose, the other reindeer respected him. We should respect those people who are different from us because that difference can be used in ways that we don't understand." Then I had the boys sing another fun song. I try to make sure everything done during our meetings is fun. One of the parents commented that they think I have as much fun as the boys. I know that my mood is contagious and if I have fun the boys will have fun also.


Clowning, magic, puppetry, and other variety arts skills are often used to teach spiritual, safety, drug awareness, bully prevention, literacy, and other important lessons. It is important to make these programs fun for the audience. Then you can include your message.


How can you continue to have fun? How can you use play to create new material? How can you incorporate play into your performances? How can you turn your presentations into fun with a purpose?




New Article


An article I wrote on the history of clown acts using monkeys or using monkey impersonation appears in the May issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association.  It is part of my WCA Historian column.  To learn more about the joining, which includes a subscription to Clowning Around, go to


World Clown Association

Thank you for being a subscriber.  I am always interested in your questions and comments.

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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.
REPS (Radio Enthusiast of Puget Sound) Showcase
June 21-23, 2013
Belevue, WA
Radio Comedy Techniques

 California Clown Campin'

July 29-August 3, 2013

Ontario, CA

Dare to be a Great Clown, Introduction to Comedy Techniques, Controlling Focus, Introduction to Sleight of Hand.  How to Juggle, Open Juggling Lab, Circus Memories


California Clown Campin'

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

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