Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #549
December 10, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


The California Clown Campin' committee has announced that after five years they have decided to close their school.  I was an instructor there for four years, and an unexpected benefit was that the school was located near where my father lives.  During the past two years, he was a special guest at the school for a few days attending classes and seeing performances.  This year he was a participant in my Origami class.  One of the things I teach in that class is how to make a paper penguin.  Penguins are always popular, especially now with the release of the new penguin animated movie.  My father enjoyed the class and told me that he has bought a pack of Origami paper with Christmas designs. He is folding penguins that he will include in each Christmas card he sends out this year.


I would like to thank Guy Vander Wyst and Laura Sicklesteel for their work directing California Clown Campin'.  I greatly enjoyed interacting with the programs participants, and it created great family memories.


California Clown Campin' was inspired by Clown Camp.  As I announced in the last issue of my newsletter, Clown Camp will be having a reunion in June 2016. I know some of the instructors who have already committed to being part of the reunion, and it will be an outstanding program.  When the instructor list is finalized it will be announced on the Clown Camp web site.  You can use the link under the Educational Opportunities column to check on the latest announcements.


I know that this is an extremely busy time of year for many variety artists who work very hard creating happy memories that will last a lifetime for many of the people in their audience.  I wish each of you good health and happiness during this time.



I will see you down the road,




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

Thought For The Week 

December 1, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"Books have no value in themselves.  They are valuable because they make more real, more interesting, more effective the other things readers are doing, thinking, feeling, and enjoying."  - Lionel McColvin


Some people pay great amounts for rare books as collectables and consider it a financial investment. However, I purchase books because I consider them an investment in my life and career.  I treasure one book because of the information it contains about the life and career of Jim and Marion Jordan.  They became very famous as Fibber McGee and Molly, but they were even more highly regarded for the kind of people they were in their private and professional life.  Their example inspires me to be a better person.


My wife will tell you that I love books and magazines.  I enjoy visiting antique stores where I browse through every shelf of books and magazines.  To me they are tangible link to history.  I was excited when I recently discovered a copy of the 1939 Ice Follies program.  That is the first year Frick and Frack, famous ice skating clowns, performed with an ice show in the United States.  It was interesting seeing photos from the beginning of their career, and reading about their accomplishments before they came to this country.  Leafing through the rest of the program let me imagine the entire show.  I could picture them as a part of the production.  To hold the actual program in my hand was more exciting than looking at a scanned item on the internet would have been because it was real, not just an image. It had a special meaning to me because as my parents took me to see the Ice Follies several times as a child where I saw Mr. Frick.  Seeing him perform back then helped establish my personal standards for quality in clowning.


This past summer I reread Clown: My Life in Tatters and Smiles, Emmett Kelly's autobiography.  I have lost track of the number of times I have read that book.  However, now for the first time I noticed a sentence where Emmett said he learned how to do chalk talks from a book by Guy Lockwood.  I have not been able to find any information on a book by Lockwood, but I did find information on a magazine published by Lockwood which included chalk talk lessons.  I purchased a copy of one issue.  I could imagine Emmett Kelly studying the lesson that was in print there.  Not only that, but I was amazed to discover that I already know a trick cartoon that is similar to that chalk talk drawing.  It will be easy for me to learn to do the drawing in the magazine.  I also discovered that although I had not realized it, I do a couple of other trick cartoons that are similar to those actually performed by Emmett Kelly.  When I have performed my Tramp Tradition Show in the past I have done a Chalk Talk segment in tribute to Emmett Kelly.  However, it was a performance of my own cartoons.  I felt a little apologetic about that, because that made it more about me than about Emmett.  When I perform my Tramp Tradition Show at the 2015 World Clown Association Convention in Reno, NV I will now be able to perform something that is more accurate in terms of what Emmett would have performed.  I will take pride in doing that which will translate into better stage presence improving the show.


For a long time I have wanted to perform a magic effect known as the thumb tie.  However, I never mastered it because the method I had learned for doing it seemed awkward.  Another magician sent me some copies of MUM magazine that were published by the Society of American Magicians during the early 1980's.  In one of  those magazines, I discovered a much simpler way to do the routine.  So, now I am confident that I can master the thumb tie and will begin practicing it. 


What are you interested in?  What book will make it more real?  What magazine will make if more effective?  What publication will increase your enjoyment of that interest?

Trick of the Trade


 Last week I watched a TV program titled "Kristen Chenowith: Coming Home" on our local American Public Broadcasting System channel. Several of the shots revealed sheets of paper laying on the stage floor behind the sound system monitors.  They would not have been visible to the audience, but they were positioned so the performers could easily glance down at them.  What were they?  They were copies of the running order so Kristen didn't have to try to remember what came next.  It is common for entertainers to hide the running order on stage so they can relax and concentrate on their performance. 


Places where I sometimes hide running orders are inside the lid of my prop trunk, the top of my magic table behind the box that holds my props, and inside the cover of the news print pad for my chalk talk act. 


For my Tramp Tradition Show, I have a running order for the entire show hidden somewhere on the floor of the stage, and more detailed running orders for individual routines (Tramp Juggler, Tramp Magician, etc.) hidden within or behind a prop used for that particular routine.

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

Tramp Tradition Show,

Controlling Focus,

Class of 1989 


World Clown Association


World Circus Summit

July 14-18, 2015

West Springfield, MA



 World Circus Summit


Clown Camp Reunion


June 2016

La Crosse, WI


Clown Camp Reunion

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

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