Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #550
December 8, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


I have been invited to be on a panel titled "Circus Today - Clowning" which will be part of the World Circus Summit July 15-18, 2015 in West Springfield, MA. The ninety-minute discussion Thursday afternoon will be mediated by Peggy Williams. The World Circus Summit is a gathering of many circus enthusiast groups from around the world. The Windjammers (performers and fans of circus music), Circus Historical Society, Circus Fans Association of America, Federation Mondiale du Cirque, Mid-Atlantic Clown Association, Clowns of America International, and the World Clown Association are among those participating. I think this is going to be an exciting and very historic event. For more information, use the link under the Educational Opportunities column.


The World Circus Summit is the second educational program I am scheduled to be at in 2015. The first is the World Clown Association Convention where I will be performing my Tramp Tradition Show. This will be the twenty fifth anniversary of the show which debuted at Clown Camp in 1990. Bluey Brattle was there representing Clowns International, a clown organization based in England. He immediately invited me to perform it in Bognor Regis, England at the 1991 World Clown Convention, co-sponsored by Clowns International and the World Clown Association. That was my first performance outside of the United States. Each of the performances of this show over the decades has been very special for one reason or another. I am thrilled at having the opportunity to share it with members of the WCA at their convention once again. (This is the third time that I have performed it at a WCA convention.) You can also find more information on this convention using a link under the Educational Opportunities column.


I hope to see many of my subscribers at either of these educational events. Now is the time to make your hotel reservations. It is possible that both events will fill their hotels and rooms may not be available close to when they begin.


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 8, 2014

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"Use what is unique about you as a person to make your clown character unique." - Kenny Ahern


"A couple of clowns took juggling lessons from me frequently during a two-year period. They never learned to juggle because they didn't like it so they never practiced. Most of the clowns they knew personally were also jugglers, so they thought that was what clowns were supposed to do. We attended a performance by Larry Pisoni. One of the first things he did was pull a flute out of his trunk. After some initial comedy about getting his fingers stuck in the ends of the flute, he started to play it. Discordant notes came out of it. Larry starred at the flute a moment, and then turned it around. This time his playing produced a pleasant melody. My friends were shocked. They had both toured professionally as back up musicians, and they had a professional-quality-recording studio in their home. They had been so focused on what they thought clowns were supposed to do; they had ignored what they themselves could do. They had never thought of using music in their clowning. They experienced great success when they began producing clown song and dance acts. Although I can juggle, I have no aptitude for music. I would fail completely if I tried to perform one of their acts. They are much better at what they do than I could ever be." -- Bruce "Charlie" Johnson, Creativity For Entertainers Volume One: The Creative Process


Singing clowns were a major category of clowning during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it is seldom seen today. Randy Christensen and Brenda Marshall are among the few clowns that I know who sing while clowning. However, I know many clowns who are able to sing well, but don't use that skill when they entertain. I think the main reason is that they don't have any role models demonstrating how to incorporate singing.


You can find ideas for using singing as a clown by looking outside of the art of clowning. This weekend I attended the annual Kirkland Choral Society Christmas concert. Their theme this year was "O Magnum Mysterium", an early Christian liturgical phrase which in English means, "O great mystery and wondrous sacrament, that animals should see the newborn, lying in their manger." The concert included several compositions based on "O Magnum Mysterium" and songs like "Away In the Manger". It also included some fun compositions about animals. One of these was Eric Whitacre's "Animal Crackers Suite 1 & 2". Whitacre set some of Ogden Nash's humorous animal poems to music. The music was in the grand orchestral style contrasting with the silly words. As I listened to it, I could easily imagine it being performed by clowns. I don't know if a solo clown could perform it, but it could certainly be performed by a quartet. I could especially imagine "The Canary" being performed by clowns because the first line was "The song of canaries never varies." The Sopranos kept repeating "never varies." The rest of the chorus paused waiting for them to stop. Just when the Chorus was ready to go on with the next line, the Sopranos would pipe up with another "never varies." The pauses kept getting longer and longer. Finally after a long pause, the Sopranos sang "never." After another pause they sang "varies." Then the short song was concluded. I could easily picture the frustration on the faces of the other clowns in the quartet wanting to finish the song, but constantly being interrupted by the Soprano.


Sometimes clowns seem interchangeable because they copy each other. That makes it difficult to stand out in terms of marketing. For example, if a client wants a clown who does balloon sculpture they have many possible choices in almost every locality. I like art so I draw trick cartoons as a way of interacting with individuals and giving them a personalized souvenir. I have gotten repeat bookings because my client specifically wanted trick cartoons and I am the only one in my area that performs them. I like to fold paper so I sometimes incorporate origami into my performances.


What makes you unique? What skills do you possess? What interests do you have? What kinds of things do you like to do? What can you do better than other people? How can you incorporate that into your clowning?


New Article by Bruce Johnson



I wrote an article on Basket Animals that appears in the November 2014 issue of Clowning Around published by the World Clown Association. The article is part of my WCA Historian Column. The article includes information on Basket Animal props built by Mark Anthony. Mark was born in 1915, and I will be paying special tribute to his centennial during my Tramp Tradition Show at the 2015 WCA Convention in Reno, NV. Mark was also in the first group of six clowns inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1989. I will be doing a lecture on those six clowns during the WCA convention. You can find more information on the convention using the link under the Educational Opportunities column.


For information on joining the World Clown Association, which includes a subscription to Clowning Around magazine, go to


World Clown Association

 World Circus Day Calendar


The Federation Mondiale du Cirque (World Circus Federation) held a photo contest for pictures taken during an official 2014 World Circus Day event. The 2014 World Clown Association Convention was a registered World Circus Day event. During the convention Merilyn Barrett took a photo of a group of clowns, each representing a different country. There were over 150 entries in the contest, and Merilyn's photo was one of the twelve winners. The winners are all published in the Federation Mondiale du Cirque 2015 calendar. Merilyn's photo is the illustration for March. Merilyn is a very talented photographer. She has taken many of the photos I use as the author photo for my magazine articles. I am glad that her work has received this recognition. To order your own copy of the calendar go to



World Circus Calendar 

Thank you for being a subscriber.  I am always interested in your questions and comments.

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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.


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

Panel Discussion: Circus Today -- Clowning 


 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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