Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #536 
May 5, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


Every year I attend at least one educational program where I do not have any responsibilities. That gives me an opportunity to continue my own education. This year I will be attending the 2014 Circus Fans Association of America Convention in Iowa September 16-20. The theme of the convention is Iowa circus history. One day the group will be going to Clinton, Iowa, Felix Adler's home town to learn about him. The group will visit his grave site to honor him. I will be taking an optional side trip the day after the convention to Baraboo, WI to extend the educational opportunities. You do not have to be a CFA member to attend the convention; however I believe that the organization's magazine, White Tops, is worth the membership fees.


I have many new subscribers so I think it is appropriate to point out that some past issues of this newsletter are archived. There is a link in each newsletter issue that will take you to the archive site. The most recent issues are not included due to technical difficulties which I hope to have resolved soon. Also, there are links in each issue to sections of my web site that has information of interest to clowns.

I will see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Circus Poster Stamps
Article Deadline
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

May 5, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"...The majority never read anything twice. The sure mark of the unliterary man is that he considers 'I've red it already' to be a conclusive argument against reading a work... Those who read great works, on the other hand, will read the same work ten, twenty or thirty times during the course of their life." -- C. S. Lewis, An Experiment In Criticism


Carole and I read Jan Karon's Mitford series of books when they were originally published in the 1990's. We are currently reading and enjoying them again. It is amazing how much we have forgotten about the stories since we first read them.


I will often reread a series of novels that I had previously enjoyed. When I read them back-to-back I often understand things that I overlooked the first time. When I originally read them as they were being written I had forgotten some things in the previous novel by the time the next one appeared in print. Also, reading them again is like spending time with friends that I have not seen in a while.


The same thing is true with non-fiction. I have read Heavenly Days! The Story of Fibber McGee and Molly by Charles Stumpf and Tom Price, many times over the years. It is the story of Jim and Marion Jordan's radio career. I read it again last year while researching and writing a series of articles on the history of radio programs broadcast from Chicago. I also read other books about radio programs that originated from that city. One of the things I understood for the first time was how closely the people in Chicago broadcasting worked together. They helped and encouraged each other, and often appeared on each other's programs. I knew that the Jordan's had created and starred in a radio program titled "Smackout" set in a rural store. I knew that Chester Lauck and Norris Goff had starred in a radio program titled "Lum and Abner" set in a rural store. What I didn't realize was how closely related the two programs were. Lauck and Goff had been friends with the Jordan's before the two series began. "Lum and Abner" debuted as a local program in Hot Springs, Arkansas. When it was picked up by a network, Lauck and Goff moved to Chicago. The cast and writers of both programs inspired each other. Marion Jordan had created a popular little girl character named Teeny. She performed as Teeny on her program and appeared as that character several times on the rival "Lum and Abner" program. What I fully realized for the first time while rereading books about Chicago radio programs was that people working in early broadcasting did not consider success to be a zero sum equation. They did not view the success of somebody else as a threat to their potential success. Instead they realized that the success of others created increased demand providing more opportunities for everyone.


Until I reread the book on Fibber McGee and Molly I had forgotten that Jim and Marion were the entire cast of the Smackout program. They performed all the characters. When I visited the archives at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago I had the opportunity to read the radio scripts used by Jim and Marion during the Smackout broadcasts. In the script used by Marion all the lines of the female characters were marked, and each character was marked differently. For example, when Marion played herself, her name was circled. When she played Teeny, that character's name had a box drawn around it. I realized that was so she could tell rapidly at a glance which voice she should be using. That is a technique I will keep in mind. I directed a Holy Humor Sunday church service where several clowns were going to read jokes hidden in a prop Bible. I used a different colored highlighter marker to indicate their lines. It turned out that one of the clowns couldn't tell which lines were his because he is color blind. If I had known Marion's method of marking lines I could have made it easier on him.


What books have you not read in a while? Which ones should you read again? What books can you read in combination to help you discover new concepts?




Circus Poster Stamps



On May 5, the United States Postal Service released a new set of stamps featuring vintage circus posters. The posters are from the collection of the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. Two of the posters feature clowns.

Article Deadline



As a member of the World Clown Association Publication Committee I try to encourage people to write for Clowning Around, the association's magazine. The WCA is interested in articles on history, profiles of other clowns, routines, philosophy, showmanship, and skill instructions. Remember that articles don't have to be very long. The WCA does not accept simultaneous submissions, meaning articles sent to more than one publication. The WCA also does not accept negative statements about other clowns.  The next deadline is May 20 for the July issue of the magazine. To submit an article, send it to and place "July Issue of Clowning Around" in the subject line.

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.

 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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