Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #554
February 23, 2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



I am pleased to announce that I will be doing a one-day workshop for the Colorado Clowns alley on August 22, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.  I will be working with the host alley to select classes from my list that will best fit the needs of their members.  I will be announcing more information as the details are finalized.


The World Clown Association Convention in Reno is now a little under a month away.  I have been working on refurbishing some of my props and preparing some new bits for my Tramp Tradition show.


In addition, as the World Clown Association Historian, I will be working as a runner during the Scholarship auction at the WCA Convention.  As items of historical significance come up for bid, I will explain their background.  The Bo Dino Scholarship, offered by the WCA, was the first Scholarship fund available for the study of clowning.  Last year the WCA added a second scholarship fund, named in honor of Dorothy "Bladigail" Miller.  The WCA scholarship auctions frequently have some valuable memorabilia, props, and other worthwhile items.  The auctions are also a lot of fun.


I hope to see many of my subscribers at the WCA convention.  Please take the time to say hello.


I will see you down the road,



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

Thought For The Week 

February 23,2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson


"Better is not a destination, it is a journey. You never arrive at better; it is always in the future because there is always an even better way to serve your customers." -- Lee Cokerell, The Customer Rules


I have been writing articles for variety arts publications since 1981. Several years ago a friend asked me if that has gotten easier over the years. He was surprised when I said no. Every article that I write is a struggle to make it better. As my skills have increased my articles have improved, but my standards of excellence have also gotten higher. It takes me longer to write an article because I go back over it several times making changes. Looking back at some of my recently published articles I can see ways they could have been improved even further.


I have held a leadership role in a local Cub Scout Pack now for five years. Boy Scouts of America teaches leaders in their organization to evaluate each event shortly after it concludes. We try to identify successful elements that have worked well and how things can be done better. For example, we had our annual Pinewood Derby last month. The boys, with adult assistance, made wooden model cars that were raced down an inclined ramp. It was a great event based on years of experience. Something we did differently this year was providing everyone who entered with a personalized pit pass. That was very popular so we will continue that next year. One of the cars was actually a working train whistle. After the race, I had the boy demonstrate it to everyone.   We had some other very creative cars and there wasn't a chance for people to inspect and enjoy them. So next year we are going to figure out a way to display every car.


Continuing education is part of the journey towards excellence. I have spent the past two months rewriting and polishing the script for the Tramp Tradition show that I will be performing a month from now at the World Clown Association Convention. I was confident that I had made several improvements since the last time I have performed the show, but I still felt that one section could be made better. I attended a lecture by magician Murray Hatfield this month. He spent half of the time speaking about showmanship. Suddenly something he said clicked with what I had been working on. I realized the solution to the problem I had been having with my script. In addition, I decided to change the opening of my show based on Murray's comments. Attending his class showed me how to make my show better.


Sometimes the journey requires that you look at things in a fresh way. Since 1982 I have been doing a routine known as "Silks that Become Tide." After doing it for several years I realized that "silk" is a magician's term that isn't understood by the lay people who are my primary audience. I had a sign with the title on it, and I heard kids pronounce the first word "Slicks." So I changed the title to "Scarves that Become Tide." Originally I used a magic prop to turn several scarves into an actual box of Tide laundry detergent. I wasn't really satisfied with the ending, and tried combining it with other gags. That didn't work because they all seemed anti-climatic. Then I switched to visibly turning the individual scarves into a banner depicting a Tide box. The surprise of the transformation got the audience response I was looking for as the ending. About fifteen years ago I purchased a prop called a Massel Tube from Laflin Magic. I discovered it worked great for turning small individual scarves into a 36-inch scarf depicting the front of a Tide box. There were several advantages to using this prop, and I thought the routine was close to perfect. I wanted to include the routine in my Tramp Tradition performance, but the Massel Tube does not fit into the time period I am recreating. However, I knew that Duane Laflin based his Massel Tube on an earlier prop made from newspaper. The newspaper version existed during the proper time period so I have built that version. I think it has some advantages over the more modern version. So now after over thirty years of performing the routine I have just found another way to make it better.


How have your standards of quality evolved? When you do something, what can you do to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses? How can you continue your education? What books will help you become better? What classes can you attend? What have you been doing the same way for a period of time? What can you change that might make it better?


Trick of the Trade


A Banker Clip is sold in office supply stores for holding stacks of bills together.  It works very well to hold packets of paper together or to hold folded silks ready in position to be produced.  If you secure the clip in place you can easily grab what it is holding with one hand and slide that free.  I have found it to be such a useful holder that I have one permanently packed in each of my prop carriers.

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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