Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #528 
January 20, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

This issue includes another entry in my popular clown trivia quiz series.

I had the pleasure of being part of a Vaudeville show this past weekend produced by Curt and Laura Shriner. It was in the Historic Everett Theater, which was built in 1901 as a vaudeville venue. Curt supplied us with some of the history of the theater and entertainers who had appeared there in its early years. Performing where they had performed was a great privilege. The rest of the cast that they put together was outstanding. I would like to thank them for including me.


The upcoming World Clown Association convention in Chicago will include a display by members of the Circus Model Builders Association. I am pleased that I have been invited to display some of my models along with them. This is another unique feature of this convention. You can learn more about the convention using the link under the educational opportunities column.



I will see you down the road,



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

Thought For The Week 

January 20, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"Do Something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn't, do something else." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt


There is currently a lot of talk about New Year's Resolutions, using the new calendar year to start over and change something about your life.


However, as you look back it is important to also decide what you want to continue. It is all too easy to forget what has worked for you in the past.


During a recent period when I felt like I was under a lot of stress I realized that I hadn't worked on a jig saw puzzle in a while. Working on a jig saw puzzle is very relaxing to me. I got out a puzzle I had started but not completed. As I worked on it, the feeling of stress faded away. I had forgotten that solving a puzzle is a good way for me to counter stress.


For many years Carole and I performed at the Seattle Ronald McDonald House every other month. It was an event that we both enjoyed. For a variety of reasons we had gotten out of the habit of doing it in the last couple of years. So although fitting it into our schedule has been a challenge, we have resumed every other month visits to the house this winter. Returning to that venue has been a blessing to us. During our most recent visit many photos were taken during my act. However, they weren't taken of me. The parents were taking pictures of their children laughing and smiling. It was a great reminder to me that my performances are about the audience and not about me. It also reaffirmed the value of what I do as a clown.


Roosevelt's thought is also the key to my clown performances. I always have more routines prepared than I will need and choose which ones I perform based on audience response. My opening is always the same, but as I get to know the audience I change the next routines based on their reaction. I appeared in a vaudeville style variety show this past weekend. I did strolling entertainment during the preshow period. My close up magic seemed to be particularly well received. I also did my version of Otto Griebling's famous warm up routine of getting different parts of the audience competing in applauding my juggling. The start of the show was delayed due to the number of people still in line at the ticket booth. So, I returned to the stage to entertain those who had been waiting for the show to start. I performed an audience participation routine where I do things wrong and try to follow instructions from the audience to correct them. That was extremely well received. So before my act I reset the props for a couple of my routines to increase the amount of audience interaction.


When I started my act in the second half of the show, the audience interaction routines went very well. My juggling got a good response. In the middle of my act, I realized that response to the audience interaction was dropping off. It had already been a long night for the audience and I think they may have been getting tired. I cut back on the interaction in the rest of that routine because it was not working as well as before. I had a juggling routine planned next, but I sensed the audience had seen enough of my juggling. (When I planned my act I had not anticipated juggling during the preshow.) I needed to do something different. I remembered how well the magic had been received earlier. So I substituted two comedy magic routines with scarves for the juggling routine. It was the right decision. As I performed the magic the laughter began to build and swell. I then performed my planned finale, keeping that routine short because I wanted to leave the audience remembering laughing at the magic. When I took my final bow I got a tremendous ovation from the audience.


What have you done in the past that you should continue because it worked?


How can you use this concept in performance? How can you build flexibility into your performances? How can you have alternate routines ready? How can you use audience feedback to direct what you do? How can you tell what is working? How can you continue doing that? How can you tell when it is time to do something different?




New Articles by Bruce Johnson


I wrote three articles that appeared in the December 2013 issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association.


The first is titled Radio Comedy Technique: Rule of Three and Topping. It is part of a series of articles tied into the WCA convention theme of Chicago in Radio and Television.


As part of my duties as the World Clown Association I notify the board each year of anniversaries the organization may want to celebrate in some way. When I compiled my list for 2014 I was amazed by how many significant anniversaries there are this year. My list was published in Clowning Around in hopes that it will provide possible topics to inspire others to write articles for the magazine. There were two anniversaries this month. On January 10, 1914 (100 years ago) Charlie Chaplin wore his Tramp costume for the first time as filming began on a short movie titled "Kid Auto Races at Venice (CA)." On January 7, 1939 (75 years ago) Red Skelton's radio program debuted.


The third article is on Ice Skating Clowns. Ice reviews were an important venue for clowns. Some of the clowns performing in ice shows were Olympic caliber athletes. The article was timed to coincide with the current ice skating competition season. The United States Championships were held a week ago and the European Championships were held this past weekend. Ice skating will be included in the Sochi Winter Olympics which begin on February 7-23, 2014. Two of the skaters expected to be competing include in their long program a trick invented by Werner "Mr. Frick" Groebli for his clown act.


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


World Clown Association



History Trivia



Click on the link that you think is the best answer to the question below.  These links will remain active until February 7, 2014


When Red Skelton's radio program debuted in January 1939 the vocalist on the program was 


 Harriet Hilliard


Marilyn Maxwell


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 2014 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,
Circus Model Display

 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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