Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #545
September 8, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


I will be attending the Circus Fans Association of America convention next week in Dubuque, Iowa.  One of the things I am looking forward to is a vsit to Clinton, Iowa the hometown of Felix Adler.  Felix was one of the first six clowns inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame.  We will be visiting the new Felix Adler Learning Center in Clinton.  I am excited about the chance to learn move about this significant clown.


I will also be taking a side trip to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI.  This museum has a great collection of clown memorabilia.  Baraboo is also home to the International Clown Hall of Fame.


I will see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Trick of the Trade
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

September 8, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson




"The learning process is never-ending and growth will continue only if you will allow it to." - Arlene Francis


My duties as the World Clown Association Historian specify that I am to continue my education and do additional research into the history of the art of clowning. Doing that has taught me that I will never know everything. There will always be something more that I can learn.


That realization is part of allowing growth to continue. Unfortunately, I have met many clowns who have stopped growing because they assume that they have already leaned everything they need to know. That stunts their development. I have sometimes heard people at conventions arrogantly declare that there aren't any instructors there that they can learn from. There are some lecturers that I have learned from previous experience do not have anything of value to offer. However, there are always some sessions by people that I have not heard before. Often their classes contain unexpected gems. Also, there is a long list of instructors that I know I have learned something of value from every time I have attended one of their classes. I always look forward to the opportunity to learn from them again. I try to attend one convention or workshop a year where I am not on staff specifically so I am free to take classes.


Being required to turn in a quarterly report with a list of what I have done to continue my education provides motivation for me to do something at least once a month. So every month I read at least one book devoted to entertainment history, entertainment, or creativity. Sometimes that forces me to look for unusual sources. For example, I just finished reading Creativity: The Perfect Crime by Philippe Petit. I have read many books on creativity, but this one is unusual because the author is a magician, juggler, wire walker, circus artist, and street performer. I didn't understand or agree with everything Petit wrote, but I found unexpected practical tips. For example when he works as a street performer he establishes his stage area by drawing a chalk circle on the ground and nobody is allowed to cross the chalk like without his permission. His attention to detail is amazing. Before he begins juggling in his street performances he inspects the immediate area and if there is a storm drain he puts something in front of it so if he drops a ball it can't roll down the drain.


When I select a topic for my WCA Historian column I have to do a lot of research. I try to verify the facts that I think I know, and often look for new ones. That may require consulting books in my private research library, visiting the public library, using on line resources like the Circus Historical Society web site or the Historic New York Times archives. Sometimes it means deciding who I know that might have the information that I am seeking. It is all focused research that I do deliberately.


You can also find unexpected educational opportunities if you are open to them. I recently heard a story teller at a community event relate an origin tale for the Contrary Clowns of the Cheyenne Nation. Afterwards I complimented him on his presentation, identified myself as the World Clown Association Historian, and told him that I am interested in learning about the Native American clown characters. I didn't try to impress him with what I already knew. He told me more additional stories. I did know some of what he told me, but much of it was new. Some of it helped me understand what I had previously heard. For example, I knew that the Contrary Clowns did everything in reverse, and that they were the most feared of all the warriors. What I didn't realize is that because they did everything in reverse, when the Chief ordered a retreat the Contrary Clowns would attack the enemy giving the rest of their group an opportunity to escape.


What prevents your growth from occurring? How do you continue your own education? What topic are you curious about? How can you deliberately learn about that? What sources of information can you find? How can you take advantage of unexpected educational opportunities? What convention or workshop will you attend next year in order to take classes?





Trick of the Trade

 If you use a knife or pair of scissors to cut fake fur from the front the hair gets trapped between the blade and the fabric backing and is cut off.  If you turn it over, the hair keeps the fabric lifted up off the surface that is supporting it.  Now when you use a knife to cut from the back, the blade slips between the base of the hair and pushes it out of the way so the hair remains intact.


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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.

 Circus Fans Association of America

September 17- 21, 2014

Dubuque, Iowa


CFA Convention 


World Circus Summit

July 14-18, 2015

West Springfield, MA



 World Circus Summit


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

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