Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #532 
March 3, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


I am looking forward to the World Clown Association Convention during the last week of March. One of my classes, Introduction to Silk Magic for Clowns, has just been added to the schedule. You will find more information on it below.


The link to an online collection of photos in the most recent issue of this newsletter was very popular. I am including a link to another online collection of photos in this issue.


I try to keep the focus of this newsletter on you. One way that I do that is checking to see which links in each newsletter have been clicked on. Using Constant Contact to send my newsletter provides me with that opportunity.


The other way I keep track of what meets your needs is comments I receive by email or in person when I attend conventions.   I appreciate your feedback.


I will be easy to find at the World Clown Association Convention because I will have a display table in the Circus Model Builder room. I will be there on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Please stop by for a chat.


I will see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
WCA Convention Class
Clown Photos
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

March 3, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"Editorial Policy is to avoid any negative statements or personal attacks against any person or organization." -- Clowning Around magazine, published by the World Clown Association.


I was graduated by California State University - Long Beach with a degree in Technical Theater. All of my design and construction classes included learning how to do a critique of my own work and the work of others. I was taught to always start with positive comments because starting with a negative comment raises people's defenses and they are not receptive to the rest of the critique.


One of the topics on the "CBS Sunday Morning" television program on March 2 was why we tend to remember negative comments and forget positive comments. I know that when I receive an evaluation sheet for a class that I teach it is the negative comments that stand out. For example, once when I received twelve comments on a class, there were eight very positive statements, three neutral statements, and one negative statement. At first the negative statement was all I could think of. Years later it was the only one that I could remember.


One of the speakers on the "CBS Sunday Morning" program stated that there is an evolutionary purpose to remembering the negative. In ancient times lessons learned through negative experiences were important for preserving life. For example, if you reached into a fire and burned your hand, remembering that experience causes you to be cautious with fire preventing you from receiving more serious life threatening burns in the future.


Our brains are set up to remember negative feedback. One of the other speakers on the TV program displayed brain scans taken when somebody heard a negative comment. He said a negative comment fully activates regions of the brain that prevent the listener from doing anything other than thinking about the negative comment. If you start a critique with a negative comment the listener doesn't just forget the following positive comments, they don't hear them.


The spring clown and variety arts conventions and workshops are beginning. That means people will be receiving competition score sheets and other forms of feedback.


If you are providing a critique, remember to keep it as positive as possible. Try to be tactful with negative comments. Don't attack the person. For example, don't say, "You didn't make it clear why...." Say, "It wasn't clear why..." Or better yet, say, "I didn't understand why..."


Soften negative statements with qualifiers like "in my opinion" or "you might consider." I try to remember that I am not the ultimate authority, and I might be wrong.


If you are receiving feedback, remember your natural bias towards giving too much importance to negative comments. Don't make any immediate decisions based on them. If there is only one negative comment out of a group of comments, consider that it may not be valid.


Remember your natural tendency to forget positive comments. If somebody pays you a verbal compliment, write it down as soon as possible. Studies have shown that you remember things longer that you write down because the sight as well as sound is stored in your brain. I have an "Encouragement File" where I keep positive notes and emails that I have received. Each time I review the file I am amazed by how much of its contents I have forgotten. I use it to remind me of things people have previously appreciated so I will continue to do them in the future.


How can you combat the natural tendency to give too much importance to negative comments you receive and to forget positive ones? How can you avoid making negative comments? How can you present negative comments in a way the other person can accept and act upon them?


 For more information see these two articles on my web site:


Being Critiqued


Presenting Critiques






Class at WCA Convention


Introduction to Silk Magic for Clowns is one of my most popular classes. As part of this class I will demonstrate how I make customized silk scarves that I use in performances. (I will be using some customized silk scarves during my performance in the convention opening ceremony.) I am the only person currently teaching this at variety art conferences. The title of the class is silk magic, but that is just a technical term used by magicians. Much of what I teach during the class can be used with bandannas and other types of scarves. So if you think beautiful silks are not appropriate to your clown character, you will learn how to adapt much of the lessons to other materials. The class will be part demonstration, and part hands on experience. The class is not on the official WCA convention schedule so you will need to remember that it will begin at 9:00 AM Saturday March 29th in the Capital room.


Clown Photos Online



The Milner Library at the Illinois State University has a large circus archive. It is located in Normal, IL. (Every time I think the city where the library is located is Normal, I wonder if that means the rest of the cities in the state are not normal.) It is about a three hour drive from the hotel where the World Clown Association Convention is being held. I will be visiting their archive the day before the convention begins. I encourage my subscribers to visit when they are in the area. Part of their photo collection is available for viewing online.


Milner Library, Illinois State University


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 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
Introduction to Silk Magic for Clowns,  
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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