Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #521 
September 30, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


The main article this week is a little different because the opening quote is from something else that I wrote. I normally don't quote myself. However, I wanted you to get a sense for the kind of material that I include in my World Clown Association Historian's column in Clowning Around. Except for the opening quote, the article in this issue of the newsletter is similar but different from the information that appears in Clowning Around. The questions at the end of my newsletter article are similar to those that appear at the end of my Clowning Around article.


Just a reminder, the 2014 World Clown Association Convention is listed under educational opportunities. Normally I limit this column to places where I will be lecturing or having my dealer table. I have not been scheduled to lecture at this convention, but I will be attending the convention so I have made an exception for this event.


This issue of my newsletter also contains another entry in my popular clown trivia series. This is question number 32 in the series. The other questions are all posted on my web site. Having all the questions and answers on one page was getting unwieldy, so I have split it up. The first 30 questions and answers are on one page. If you use the History Trivia link to the right under quick links you will be taken to this page. Question 31 and 32, with their answers, are on a second page that you can easily navigate to from the first page. All future questions and answers will be added to this second page.


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

Thought For The Week 

September 30, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"Success in entertainment is not a zero sum equation. One person's success does not subtract from another person's potential success. On the contrary, it increases demand providing more opportunities for everyone to succeed." -- Bruce "Charlie" Johnson, Clowning Around, September 2013


The 2014 World Clown Association Convention is being held in Chicago, a town that was important in the history of radio and television. I wrote an article on the history of early Chicago radio programs for the September issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association. In researching the article I frequently found references to the success of a new genre of radio program creating a demand that provided more entertainers the opportunity to star in other programs fitting into that genre. I also found many references to the early radio entertainers helping and encouraging each other. As the demand for radio programs grew, the stars of one show would appear as supporting characters on episodes of other programs. The creators of many early radio programs shared ideas and inspired each other.


Something similar happened in the world of clowning. In 1926, Edie Shipstad and Oscar Johnson began performing clown routines on ice at skating carnivals and between periods of ice hockey games. Their clown acts became the foundation for their Ice Follies production that premiered in 1936. The success of their show created a demand for ice shows paving the way for the Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and other shows. These shows included acts by skating clowns.


In 1957, Emmett Kelly was hired as the mascot of the Brooklyn Dodgers, known as "dem bums." He was the first non-athlete to be hired by a professional baseball team. He opened up a new type of venue for performances by clowns. Scott Linker, Dave Fisher, and Rick Cobban have appeared as clowns at baseball games in recent years.


A promotional campaign for the Burns and Allen radio program involved Gracie looking for her lost brother. Gracie Allen would appear as a surprise guest star on other programs asking the characters to help her find her brother. Although the networks were competing for listeners, she was allowed to appear on programs on each of the networks. While the publicity did help improve the ratings for the Burns and Allen program, there was another effect. Because people didn't know where Gracie would turn up they listened to shows they normally ignored hoping to hear her. This sampling of other programs led to people discovering new programs that they began to listen to on a regular basis. That promotional stunt for one particular show increased the ratings for all radio shows. That is an example of "a rising tide raises all boats."


There are some people who work hard to promote the art of clowning while also promoting themselves. Aurora Krause and Lee Mullally are among those people who strive to gain credibility for clowning through how and where they promote their performances. They are actively involved in educating others by writing magazine articles and teaching classes. By trying to improve the quality of clowning in general they create more demand for performances by clowns. In return that gives them more opportunity to perform.


I have also seen the opposite happen. One charitable organization scheduled some volunteer clowns for an event. The group was very unhappy with what the clowns had done and decided volunteers were inferior to professionals. So the next year they hired some clowns. They were unhappy again so they decided that clowning was not appropriate for their event and banned clowns from participation. Their president saw me perform someplace else, liked what I did, and hired me on a trial basis. I ended up performing for them annually for several years. When I was not available one year due to a prior commitment, I recommended some clowns I knew would do a good job. They have continued to appear at that event each year.


What can you do to increase opportunities for all entertainers? What new venue can you break into where other entertainers could also perform? How can you make sure your entertainment is of a quality that will create more demand for entertainers? How can you help and encourage other entertainers? When you can't do an event, who can you recommend who would do a good job? How can you gain increased credibility for clowning? When you market yourself how can you also promote family entertainment in general?



History Trivia

Click on the link that you think is the best answer.  (These links will be good until November 1, 2013.  After that date use the History Trivia link at the upper right to check your answer.


The clown who wore the appropriate birthstone on the end of his nose each month was:


Felix Adler


Paul Jerome 

New Articles by Bruce Johnson


I wrote two artciles that appear in the September 2013 issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association.  The first, a part of my WCA Historian column, is part one of a history of radio in Chicago, the site of the 2014 WCA convention.  While physical comedy is taught at many conventions and workshops, many clowns are also verbal comedians.  In this article, in addition to describing the history of radio in this important city, I try to show how Old Time Radio can be a source of information and inspiration to clowns.  Those attending the convention can learn more about radio and television by visiting the Museum of Broadcast Communications, located in Chicago.


In the second article, titled Radio Comedy Technique -- Alliteration, I describe one specific example of how I have used something I learned by listening to Old Time Radio to create a piece of material that I have used in performance.


To learn more about joining the World Clown Association, 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.

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.
World Clown Association Convention
March 25-29, 2014
Northbrook, IL

 California Clown Campin'


Ontario, CA

Dates and subjects

to be announced


California Clown Campin'

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

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