Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #542
August 4, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


Happy National Clown Week.


I would like to thank Guy VanderWyst and Laura Sicklesteel for the work in organizing the recent California Clown Campin'. It was a small group which allowed for a lot of personal interaction. My classes went very well, and I did several private sessions between the formal lectures. It was a pleasure working again with my friends Jeff McMullen and Merilyn Barrett who I met through the UW-L Clown CampŠ. During the week I got to spend time with several Thought for the Week subscribers.


I currently do not have any lectures scheduled, but there are several interesting possibilities that I hope I will be able to announce soon.


In this issue you will find a link to a new article on my web site.  I don't post articles from current magazine issues on my web site because I want people to join the organizations in order to receive their publications.  However, I do post articles from past issues to give you an idea of the type of articles that I write for the publications.  This new article is from the January issue of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association, so it is six months since it appeared.  If you would like more information on the World Clown Association go to


World Clown Association



I will see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Centennial of Chaplin's Little Tramp
New Article by Bruce Johnson
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

August 4, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"The only thing to me... the important thing... is the family, and if you can keep the family together with things. That's been the backbone of our whole business - catering to the families. You can't live on things made for children - or for critics. I've never made films for either of them. Disneyland is not just for children. I don't play down. You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway." -- Walt Disney


When somebody asks me what I do, I reply that I am a family entertainer. I found that if I said I was a clown the response I received was, "Oh! That must be a lot of fun. I bet the kids like you." That immediately eliminates from their consideration many venues where my services would be ideal. I can and do entertain audiences of adults. At the recent California Clown Campin' program I performed for an all adult audience and received a standing ovation and a demand for an encore.


Clowns are sometimes themselves responsible for the kids only stereotype. Occasionally an author in one of the clown organization publications will say something like, "Clowns only perform for kids so you don't need to develop much skill at..."


Yet, skill is the key to being a family entertainer. If you start off with silly material aimed at kids, preteens and adults will dismiss you as appropriate only for kids. At a birthday party the adults begin their own conversations in the back of the room because they think what you are doing is not relevant to them. A quick display of skill gains their respect and demonstrates that you are more than just a children's entertainer. Not only do you gain their respect, but you demonstrate that you respect them. Then that mutual respect allows them to relax and enter into your world of play.   You have to respect the adult part of their personality before they will allow you access to the childlike part of their personality.


According to psychologists you develop your sense of humor in stages. The first thing a baby does is respond to a smile with a smile. Then they react with delight at a surprise, for example, playing peek-a-boo. The next form of humor a child appreciates is forbidden subject humor, for example, a whoopee cushion. Then they develop the ability to enjoy word play, for example, puns and knock-knock jokes. Finally they learn to understand and appreciate cognitive humor including irony and sarcasm.


Some clowns advocate using body function humor because it causes a strong reaction from very young kids. They are correct, but playing down to younger kids that way can alienate older members of the audience because it is obviously childish humor. Any forbidden subject humor, including sexual references, can alienate audience members with a mature sense of humor.


Even if you wanted to concentrate on entertaining children, you will rarely have an audience exclusively of children. A preschool audience will include the teachers, and you need to appeal to them as well to be invited back. At other venues you will probably have the people who brought the children as potential audience members.


Walt Disney said he never made anything for the critics. Some of his work was acclaimed by the critics, but they were never his target audience. In the world of clowning, competition judges serve as the critics. Those things that appeal most to the judges are not always the things that appeal to family audiences. I have seen many award winning competition skits fail completely when presented in a variety show with a family audience. Competition is a narrow venue with a limited number of performances. You cannot have a thriving clown career based on things created for competition. It is wisest to concentrate on preparing for a family audience, and if that also works in a competition it is a bonus.


What is your target audience? How can you make your entertainment appealing to older children and adults? How can you show respect to all ages?

Chaplin's Little Tramp Centennial

Charlie Chaplin created his Little Tramp character in 1914. I recently placed an article on my web site commemorating the centennial of his famous character. This article, which originally appeared in Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association, explores some of those who influenced Chaplin and those who were influenced by him. You can read this article by going to


Chaplin's Little Tramp


New Article by Bruce Johnson

An article that I wrote on the display by Circus Model Builders at the 2014 World Clown Association Convention appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of The Little Circus Wagon, published by Circus Model Builders, Inc.  It was my privelege and pleasure to join them with a display of some of my models and memorabilia during the convention.  To learn more about this organization go to


Circus Model Builders, Inc


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

Origami for Clowns (2 hour session), The Class of 1989, Introduction to Silk Magic (2 hour session), Jest Because - The Link Between Humor and Health, Character Development & Expression from the Inside Out, Trick Cartoons, Card Magic for Clowns, Staff on Stage, plus acts in the Staff Bits and the Public shows.


California Clown Campin'

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

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