Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #552
January 19, 2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

Today is a holiday in the United States in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Many use this day to promote volunteerism. What volunteer opportunities are available to you?


Remember to insure that you continue receiving my newsletter when you have a new email address use the Update Profile/Change Email Address link at the bottom of every issue to change where you receive your copy. Sometimes subscribers send their new email address to me, and when I try to change it from my side there is a mistake and they get dropped from my list entirely.


The archive for this newsletter is now current. If you would like to read any of the previous issues use the link to the side.


In the last issue that I sent I announced that an article I had written on Felix Adler had appeared in the December 2014 issue of Clowning Around. That was a milestone article for me. It is the 150th article I have written to be printed in that publication. My first article to appear in that magazine was published in January 1989.

I will see you down the road,



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

Thought For The Week 

January 19,2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"There is no failure in life other than not trying. If you want something enough, make an attempt... A lot of people get scared. They're afraid to fail. Take that word out of your vocabulary. You didn't 'fail.' You 'tried your best.'" - Jane Seymour


This is the time of year that many Cub Scout Packs have Pinewood Derby races. The Boy Scouts of America stresses good sportsmanship. In materials provided by the BSA, the boys are told, "Notice that only one car can win for speed, but success by doing your best is possible for every Cub Scout." Success is measured by effort not by result.


I took several technical theater classes taught by Herb Camburn when I attended CaliforniaStateUniversity - Long Beach. He stressed that he wanted his students to continually challenge themselves. He said an interesting failure is better than a boring success because you can learn from the failure. I got a B from him in one class where my projects turned out perfect, but he felt that I picked easy projects that did not require much effort. In another class that he taught I tried more ambitious projects which did not all succeed. For example, I tried blocking a cowboy hat with very tall crown out of felt. In theory the method should have worked, but it didn't. I was trying to alter the shape of the felt too far. However, in the process I learned some methods that I was able to apply to other projects. Based on my effort and my growth in skills during the semester he gave me an A for the course.


In Creativity For Entertainers Volume One: The Creative Process, I discuss risking failure as a necessary part of creativity. One of the concepts that I mention is limiting the cost of failure to make it more acceptable. One way of doing this is experimenting with a prototype using less expensive materials. That way if your idea doesn't work, you have not lost as much financially. If it works, then you make a more permanent version with better materials.


Another concept is finding a safe place to fail. When I was a member of the Orange County Magic Club I would create something new each month for the Open Mike portion of the meeting. Often a theme was announced to provide potential inspiration. Some of my new routines were more successful than others. I learned a lot in the process, and I eventually added some of those ideas to my regular performance repertoire.


A willingness to risk failure is necessary for improvisation. I carefully plan and prepare for my performances, but I also will take a detour if the opportunity for an improvised interaction occurs. Those spur of the moment ideas do not always work out. If they are less successful than I would like, I accept that as part of the process. I quickly win back the audience with something that I know is sure fire. Sometimes though the result is a beautiful spontaneous moment that the audience realizes is real verses rehearsed. Those moments would not occur if I did not try.


Being willing to risk failure is necessary for success, but sometimes clowns and other entertainers become too accepting of failure. Many times I have read in clown publications that it is okay if a clown fails because they are supposed to do things wrong so you really don't need to learn how to do it correctly. It is true that audiences can be very forgiving if they know you are making an honest effort. The key is to make an honest effort. Audiences will not forgive a lack of preparation. Obvious inadequate preparation demonstrates a lack of respect for the audience which they resent. Originally my clown character failed in everything he attempted. It took me many years to learn that if an audience cares about a character they want the character to ultimately succeed. That is why in so many sports movies the loveable underdog scores the winning point.


How do you define success? Are you afraid to fail? What can you do to make failure acceptable? Where is it safe for you to try new ideas? How can you limit the cost of failure? Do you honestly try your best with every attempt? How much effort do you invest?


Trick of the Trade


A performer wearing a tie may find it frustrating to have to retie it every time it is worn. If you slide the knot down you can slip the tie off over your head. The next time you wear it you slip it down over your head and slide the knot back up. However, after doing this several times the knot can become too tight or become misshapen. A simple solution is to tie the knot and then slip the tie off. Now take thread and use a blind stitch to sew the edges of the fabric in the knot together. The knot can't tighten any further and will retain its shape.

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 2015 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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