Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #534 
April 7, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


I had a wonderful time at the recent World Clown Association Convention in Chicago. It was great seeing so many of my Thought for the Week Subscribers there.


One experience verified for me the effectiveness of this newsletter. My Introduction to Silk Magic class was a late addition to the convention schedule. I had announced it in this newsletter when it was scheduled, but for a variety of reasons its announcement was delayed at the convention. People who knew about it from this newsletter began asking me about it. One woman came to me and said, "I decided to come at the last minute because I wanted to take your class. I hope I haven't missed it." It was finally announced Friday night, and I had a good sized class Saturday morning. So remember, if you are planning a convention or workshop and schedule me to participate I will use this newsletter to help promote attendance at your event. Over the years that has proven to bring people to events who otherwise would not have attended.


The next event where I will be teaching is California Clown Campin' in Ontario , CA this July. You can use the link under the Educational Opportunities column to find more information.


While I was in Chicago for the convention, I was able to visit the Milner Library at the IllinoisStateUniversity and the Museum of Broadcast Communications to see their archives. I would like to thank Maureen Brunsdale and Robert Cass for their wonderful hospitality during my visits. I will be providing more information on these two resources in future issues of this newsletter.


A unique feature of the WCA Convention in Chicago was an exhibit by the Circus Model Builders Association. There were seven displays of circus models and memorabilia. I would like to thank Michael Butash, CMB President, for inviting me to join them in the exhibition room. I believe that this was the first time the Circus Model Builders have participated in a clown convention. It was very successful, and I hope that it will not be the last.


I also got many new subscribers during the convention. At any time you can change your email address by using the Update Profile/Email address link at the bottom of every issue. When this newsletter no longer meets your needs, you may use the Safe Unsubscribe link to have your address permanently removed from my mailing list.




I will see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
New Articles by Bruce Johnson
World Circus Day -- Art of Happiness
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

April 7, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"You can't get too much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good." - Jerry West


Barry Lubin used a metaphor I liked in one of his lectures at the recent World Clown Association Convention in Chicago. He said that when somebody has a sink that needs to be fixed they hire a plumber. They don't care if the plumber does not feel like fixing sinks because of personal problems. His job is to fix the sink and that is all they are interested in. The plumber has to do his job whether he feels like it or not. Being an entertainer is our job. Whether we feel like it or not, our job is to entertain our audience.


When some people discuss Coulrophobia they list not knowing what a clown is truly feeling as a potential cause. People in the media are fascinated by the idea that a clown's happy fašade conceals a broken heart. Fictional portrayals like the opera Pagliacci reinforce that stereotype. However, that is unimportant. Just like any other profession, a clown should be able to do their job no matter how they are feeling.


I toured with Circus Kirk in 1976. The show was owned by Charles "Doc" Boas, a college professor. The show employed high school and college students as a way to teach life lessons and to provide an opening to potential entertainment careers. We did everything on the show. In the morning the performers helped move the show from one town to the next and set up the tents and equipment. Everyone lived in dormitories built into semi-truck trailers. Sometimes conflicts erupted due to living and working so closely together. I kept a journal that summer. In one of the entries I wrote, "Doc called a meeting between shows. He said the one thing that keeps us from being true professionals is that we bring our problems with us into the ring. Yesterday one of the acts got into a loud argument as they were leaving the ring, and the entire audience could hear them. Doc said that the audience is there to be entertained. They shouldn't be able to tell if we are having difficulties."


That was a hard lesson to learn. There were several reasons for conflict between members of the clown alley that season. Sometimes we didn't like each other very much. One of our acts which had been getting great response began to fail. One day one of the women in the alley said, "Nobody makes eye contact with me anymore during the act." I realized that I was letting personal feelings interfere with the act. I ignored her because I didn't like her very much at that time. So I began consciously making eye contact with her while we performed. Although our relationship outside of the ring was strained, I acted as if our two characters had a relationship in the ring. I purposely tried to find ways to connect with her during the act instead of ignoring her. Audience response to the act improved again. Eventually the cause of our outside conflict was resolved.


I worked at Raging Waters in San Dimas, CA for eleven years. Each year I actually performed forty hours a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is hard to consistently feel like clowning that long. Looking back I can tell when I let personal problems or conflict at work interfere with my performances. During those periods I just went through the motions of performing my routines. I did not feel any connection to audience members. My performances lacked energy. People laughed at my routines, but something was missing. I learned that I had to make a conscious choice to focus my attention on creating a connection with individuals in the audience. When you are concentrating on that it is hard to think about other things that are bothering you. I found the effort to be exhausting, but when I did establish connections it renewed my energy. I developed a determination to give each particular audience the best performance I could at that moment no matter what it took. Sometimes it doesn't work out, but I give it my best effort.


How can you give a good performance when you don't feel like it? What choices can you make in advance to prepare for it? What things do you need to focus on?




New Articles by Bruce Johnson



I wrote two articles that appear in the March 2014 issue of Clowning Around magazine, published by the World Clown Association.


The first is an explanation of the Circus Model Builder Association and their displays. It was written to help WCA members understand and enjoy the displays they saw at the convention in Chicago.


The second is a tribute to Charlie Chaplin on the 100th Anniversary of the creation of his Little Tramp character. It is part of my WCA Historian's column in the magazine. Like any other entertainer he did not create his character in isolation. In the article I explore some of the influences upon him. Then I explore his tremendous influence upon the art of clowning. The article is illustrated with some of my pen and ink drawings of clowns mentioned in the text.


To learn more about joining the WCA, which includes a subscription to Clowning Around, click on the link below.


 World Clown Association

World Circus Day -- Art of Happiness




March 20, 2014 is the United Nations Day of Happiness. April 19, 2014 is the fifth annual World Circus Day. The International Circus Federation (Federation Mondiale Cirque) is promoting the dates between those two dates as a month-long celebration of the Art of Happiness. Any appropriate event during that time can be registered on the International Circus Federation web site as an official World Circus Day celebration of the Art of Happiness event. This gives the organizing group international publicity. The World Clown Association Convention in Chicago was an official World Circus Day Art of Happiness event. For more about this celebration go to



World Circus Day

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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.

 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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