Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #525 
November 25, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It is celebrated on other days in different countries and cultures. However, most cultures and religions include a day of thanks. I have much to be thankful for. The art of family entertainment has brought me many wonderful opportunities and experiences. As a result I have friends around the world. I am particularly thankful for each of my subscribers to this newsletter.


Actually we shouldn't wait for an official day of thanksgiving to be grateful for our blessings and to say thanks to those who contribute to our life. I wish each of you a wonderful day of giving thanks whether it is a holiday this week or just a day you choose to count your blessings.



I will see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
History Trivia Quiz
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

November 25, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson




"The art is in the edit." - Ray Bradbury


In studying the history of old time radio I discovered that many of the scripts, in particular the comedy programs, were overwritten. That means the initial script was longer than could be used on the show. Then during the first read through by the cast, the writers made notes about what seemed to work best. Then the script was edited down to the proper length. Many people felt that the more that was taken out of a script the better the final result. We judge things by comparison and contrast. An abundance of material allows you to compare ideas to each other and realize which ones are the best. When a long script is shortened you know that what remains is the best available material.


I do the same thing with my clown and magic routines. I write them without regard to length. Then as I rehearse I begin to edit them down removing those parts that seem to be awkward. Then when I begin performing them in public I listen to audience feedback. I edit out anything that does not receive the response that I desire. Sometimes what I edit out is good, but simply does not fit. I remember that material in case it fits into a different routine.


The process is the same with any writing. When I write a new class for variety arts conferences my original notes are always too long. I edit it down before I give it for the first time trying to tighten it up. Then as I start teaching the class I continually evaluate the effectiveness of what I have presented, and edit it further. I figure I have to teach a class five or six times to get into its best shape. Even then the process is never entirely complete. I presented my comedy techniques class for the first time at the 1986 Laugh-Makers Conference. It has remained one of my most popular classes and I have occasionally edited it. At the beginning of this year I rewrote the class. I added a few things that I had learned since creating the class, but for the most part I edited out some things that I felt were no longer as effective as possible. I taught the reworked version twice this year, and I think it is a definite improvement.


When I write my magazine articles I spend a lot more time editing then I do writing the rough draft. After I put down the information that I know, I go through and remove portions that interrupt the flow. My job as a writer is not to overwhelm the reader with everything I know. My job is to help the reader understand my topic. I was the World Clown Association Education Director from 1991 to 1993. My duties included writing a column for Clowning Around, the WCA publication. Looking back on those articles now I realize that I used too much of a shotgun approach. I would have several topics, plus go off on a few tangents, in each article. I hoped that everyone would find something they could use. However, having too much in the article camouflaged the important points. Now as I organize an article I select between one and three main points that I want the reader to learn. If information is not relevant to those points, I edit it out. I approach it like a gardener pruning a bush. There is nothing wrong with the branches cut off except that they don't contribute to the desired shape. By carefully selecting the material I leave behind, I shape the article into something artistic and satisfying. Hopefully the reader doesn't have to search for relevance because it can easily be seen. (I have a file of material I have edited out of articles. Sometimes they provide the foundation for a different article.)


Then I go through the text again. I eliminate unnecessary words and simplify sentence structure making it easier to read. I try to write far enough ahead of deadline that I can set the work aside for a while, and then edit it again with a fresh eye. Frequently by the time I am finished I have edited out about a quarter of the original rough draft.


When creating material, do you write more than you need so you can select from the best? How much time do you spend editing compared to writing? How can you determine what should remain and what needs to be edited out? How can you give it a proper shape? How can you preserve material edited out for future use? How can you eliminate the unnecessary? How can you make it easier for your audience to understand?


History Trivia Quiz

Click on what you think is the most accurate answer to the question below.  This link will remain valid until December 21, 2013.


Super Circus was a network television show broadcast from Chicago from 1949 until 1955. The clowns on the show were Cliffy (Cliff Sobier), Nicky (Nicky Francis), and Scampy (Bardy Patton and then Sandy Dobritch). While Kellogg's sponsored the program they introduced a new product, Sugar Smacks, which had a clown on the cereal box. The clown depicted was:




Paul Jung

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 

Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List