Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #526 
December 9, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


This last weekend I performed outside on the coldest day in Seattle in the last fifteen years. I was entertaining at a food drive drop off site in a parking lot so the performance could not be moved inside. I dressed for the weather with a sweatshirt and thermal long johns under my costume. I knew that I was as prepared as possible. However, when I worked at Raging Waters in extreme heat audience members would approach me and ask if I was alright. I learned that if people like your character they care about you. If something causes them to feel concerned they can't relax and enjoy your entertainment. So last Saturday I got out my tattered tramp overcoat that I wore in my circus performances. I probably have not worn it in two decades. It has so many holes in it that it really did not contribute much additional heat. However, it gave the appearance that I was dressed for the weather. It worked and nobody expressed any concern. Actually as long as I kept juggling I was fine. So no matter what weather you are performing in you have to take care of yourself or you are not able to be entertaining, and you have to create the perception that you are taking care of yourself so people relax and enjoy your entertainment.


This is a busy time of year for entertainers all around the globe. No matter how busy you get, be sure to take time to take care of yourself and to maintain your relationships with those important in your life.


Although I was not invited to lecture at the 2014 World Clown Association convention in Chicago, I will be teaching a class as part of the WCA Junior Joey program at the convention. This is a great program for young people interested in the art of clowning.


Also, the dates have been announced for the 2014 California Clown Campin' program. This will be their fifth anniversary celebration with Jeff McMullen honored as the featured clown. I will be an instructor at this program although specific topics have not been selected yet.



I will see you down the road,



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

Thought For The Week 

December 9, 2013

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"Nothing is more effective than sincere, accurate praise, and nothing is more lame than a cookie-cutter compliment." - Bill Walsh


A concept I learned when I was a teacher in the Bible Study Fellowship Children's Program was that correcting undesirable behavior might actually reinforce it because the attention is a type of reward. A better approach is to watch for positive behavior and praise it.


I have seen some children's entertainers use this concept when selecting volunteer assistants. While bringing somebody up, they say, "I selected you because you were seated quietly, had your hand up, and were smiling." I have observed that after a few repetitions every child is acting that way because they know that is what will be rewarded.


If praise is too general you don't know what to continue. That is why praise should be specific and accurate. A year ago my local Boy Scout District honored me with an award called the "Commissioner's Key to Unit Effectiveness." I wasn't sure at first why I received the award. Our District Commissioner told me that some of the people in my Cub Scout Pack sent nice comments about my leadership and he let me see the comments. Several people said they appreciated my patience when the kids got a little noisy. (That usually happens during the transition from one activity to another.) Other people commented that they were impressed how the boys quieted down to listen to me during the serious portions of the meeting. I had thought that I should try harder to keep the boys quiet all the time. However, the comments showed me that it was okay if the boys got noisy at times because it means they are excited and having fun. I have learned to tolerate a little chaos as long as I can bring things back under control.


Also specific praise requires effort, which the recipient appreciates. It demonstrates that they are important to you. A thank you card can be considered a type of praise. You are praising the person for what they have done for you. I send a hand written thank you card to my client after each performance, and I try to comment on something specific. For example, I might comment on the extra effort they went to in decorating for the party. The majority of my performances are repeat bookings, and sometimes people comment on how much they appreciate the card they received after my previous booking.


The lack of effort is why a "cookie-cutter compliment" is so lame. If something is obviously a form letter thank you it has limited effectiveness. First, it shows the sender thinks the recipient isn't valuable enough to be worth the effort of preparing something personalized. Second, comments don't have any credibility if everyone receives the same thing. A generic appreciation of contribution to an organization makes the recipient doubt that the sender has any knowledge of what they have contributed.


In addition to being sincere and accurate, praise is more effective if it is unexpected. My local Boy Scout District has a volunteer appreciation/award banquet every year in March. There is a monthly leadership development meeting where awards are sometimes presented. Praise and expressions of thanks are expected there. Last year I was touched when I received an unexpected card from the District on Thanksgiving Day. I knew that extra thought and effort went into preparing and sending those cards to volunteer leaders. That meant more to me than the actual words in the card.


How can you use praise to motivate desired behavior during performances? How can you praise to motivate desired behavior in organizations you belong to? How can you make your praise specific and accurate? How can you demonstrate the value you place in somebody by the effort you go to in thanking them? How can you surprise somebody with praise at an unexpected time?



 New Articles by Bruce Johnson

I wrote two articles that appear in the November 2013 issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association.


The first is Chicago Radio Comedy Powerhouses. This concludes the two part Chicago radio article in my WCA Historian column. In this article I discuss Amos and Andy, Life with Luigi, Fibber McGee and Molly, Vic and Sade, and The Easy Aces programs. In addition to explaining the history of these programs, all broadcast from Chicago, I explain principles from these shows that clowns can use in their performances today.


The second article is titled Radio Comedy Technique - Unseen Character. In this short article I discuss how I used some of the techniques described in Chicago Radio Comedy Powerhouses to turn ideas usually considered a group skit into a solo skit.


To learn more about joining the World Clown Association, which includes a subscription to Clowning Around, go to


World Clown Association

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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.
World Clown Association Convention
March 25-29, 2014
Northbrook, IL
Trick Cartoons for Junior Joeys

 California Clown Campin'

July 21-27, 2014

Ontario, CA


to be announced


California Clown Campin'

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

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