Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #547
October 27, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

   I will see you down the road,

I will be doing two lectures at the 2015 World Clown Association Convention in Reno, NV.


The first is Controlling Focus. Your act is not what you do, but what your audience thinks you did. If they are not paying attention to what you want them to at the right time they will not understand and enjoy your performance. I was graduated by CaliforniaStateUniversity - Long Beach with a BA in technical theater. During this session I will be sharing theatrical techniques that you can apply in any setting. After Janet Tucker took this class at another program she said, "This is a graduate level class in clowning."


The second lecture is The Class of 1989. In 1989 Felix Adler, Lou Jacobs, Otto Griebling, Emmett Kelly, Mark Anthony, and Red Skelton became the first six inductees into the International Clown Hall of Fame. During this session I will explain what made these clowns so special and how you can use their example to improve your performances today and in the future.


You can learn about this convention using the link under the Educational Opportunities column to the right.




In This Issue
Thought For The Week
New Article by Bruce Johnson
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

October 27, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"Do not allow critics to make you think you're so good it's impossible for you to become better! Do not content yourself with merely reaching high standards to satisfy your ego. True artists enrich their art, not themselves." --Philippe Petit, Creativity: The Perfect Crime


I taught a clown course through the Southern California School of Magic and Variety Arts in the early 1990's. I was trying to encourage one of my students to make changes to her make up design because it hid instead of enhancing her facial expressions. When she came home from attending a regional clown convention she informed me that she didn't need to make any changes because her make up was good enough to win second place in competition. She never did improve her make up and eventually stopped clowning. The unfortunate thing is that she did not win because she had excellent make up. She won second place because only two people entered that category. Winning a competition does not mean you are good, it just means that in the opinion of the majority of that group of judges you were the best of those who entered on that day.


Few clowns appear in venues like Broadway shows where theater critics review their performances. Competition judges are the critics most clowns are exposed to. Clowns enter competitions for many reasons. Many of them do it to satisfy their own egos. I have seen very talented clowns who did not reach their potential because they used winning competitions as their standard of excellence. Once they were good enough to win consistently they did not advance. Some of them created new routines, but the quality didn't improve. Their routines were flawed, but since they met their definition of success they didn't see the need to fix the flaws. They kept repeating the same mistakes. They also kept winning awards that some people considered prestigious. They were good enough to satisfy their ego and stopped their efforts to lean more.


I don't mean that is true of every person who enters competition. Aurora Krause was the first person to win the World Clown Association All Around Clown competition. I think because she won it relatively early in her clown career she realized that she still had a lot to learn. She has continued to study the art of clowning since then and her performances have improved. I think more importantly her goal is not to satisfy her ego. She enjoys competing, but that is not her focus. She advertises to obtain bookings. However, she doesn't promote herself. When you speak to her she talks about her efforts to promote clowning. She works hard on her performances because she wants people who see them to think highly of the art of clowning. Some people look down on some venues, for example birthday parties, as requiring less effort. Aurora approaches each party as an important event because it is another opportunity to influence the public's opinion of clowns. She is active in clown education because she wants each person to be good enough to serve as an ambassador of clowning earning respect for our art. She writes magazine articles urging people to respect clowning as an art and to continue to pursue excellence. There are many more like her who try to promote clowning.


A recent issue of The Linking Ring, published by the International Brotherhood of Magicians, contained a tribute to Joanie Spina who passed away August 17, 2014. She began working with David Copperfield in 1985 and became his lead assistant, choreographer, and co-director. She choreographed ten of his television specials. She is credited with transforming his performances which gained increased respect for the art of magic. I saw her several times in person, including the taping of two of Copperfield's TV specials, and was very impressed by her stage presence. After eleven years she left his company to create her own successful magic show. In 2000, she retired from performing to concentrate on coaching. She worked with some of the most popular magicians and improved the entertainment quality of their acts. In the magazine many magicians commented on how much she had done to improve the art of magic. Magic is better because she lived.


How do you set your standards of excellence? How can your performances be improved? How can you promote variety arts? How can you encourage and assist others in reaching their potential?

New Articles by Bruce Johnson


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


The first is how to use your local library as a resource for researching the art of clowning.


The second is about Emmett Kelly's appearances at casinos in Nevada. The article is based on two interviews I did with his daughter, Monika. The 2015 WCA convention will be at the Casino where Emmett Kelly and Red Skelton performed during the last years of Emmett's life. I will be talking about both of them in a session titled "The Class of 1989" which I will be presenting during the convention.


You can learn more about joining the World Clown Association, which includes a subscription to Clowning Around, by going to


 World Clown Association

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 22- 26, 2015

Reno, Nevada


World Clown Association


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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