Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #558
April 27, 2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



I was honored to receive the 2015 First Place Clowning Around Author Award from the World Clown Association.  I would like to congratulate the other winners. Ben Christensen won second place, and Aurora Krause won third.  


I have subscribers from around the world, but the article in this issue on Red Nose Day will be of interest mainly to those who live in the United States.


I will see you down the road,



In This Issue
Thought For The Week
New Article
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 

April 27,2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



"He (my father) brought into focus a most vital rule of creativity.  You must, if you ever would pretend to artistry, respect your medium; be it a blank piece of paper or canvas, an untouched bar sheet, an uncarved piece of stone, or an unexposed frame of film." - Chuck Jones


One of the reasons I love studying clown history is that I learn to respect the art of clowning.  The accomplishments of clowns from the past demonstrate the potential inherent in clowning and the impact that it can have.


In the past, clowning was respected as a theatrical art.  Drama critics favorably reviewed acts performed by Antonet and Beby, the Fratellini Brothers, and other European circus clowns in the first half of the twentieth century.  When the Fratellini Brothers appeared at Cirque Medrano in Paris, it was fashionable to arrive late for the circus, but in time to see the clowns perform.  After the last act by the Fratellini's, people would get up and leave.  The clowns were the only thing at the circus that interested sophisticated audiences.  Leading theater directors in Paris hired the clowns to teach their actors.


Clowns have appeared in opera productions and Broadway shows.   They have starred in motion pictures.  Bert Williams used his outstanding clown skills to break through racial barriers in the early 1900's.  He became the first Black entertainer to make a phonograph-recording, star in a motion picture, produce a Broadway show with an all-black cast, and become a headliner in "white" vaudeville. 


Bert Williams changed American culture.  Clowns can also have a tremendous impact upon lives of an individual.  Felix Adler was requested to visit a hospital patient.  The boy had polio and was suffering severe depression.  Nobody had been able to make him laugh. It was known that a patient's attitude greatly affected their recovery.  Felix told the boy that if God wanted him to get better he would, so he should stop worrying and be happy with life no matter how long it was.  By the time Felix left the boy was laughing.  The boy did recover and eventually became the President of the Cincinnati Manufacturing Co. 


I treat every performance seriously because I don't know how it might affect somebody.  For me a memorable performance was seeing Dimitri perform his two solo stage acts in 1977.  One of my college teachers recommended that I go see the show at a nearby university.  I was very impressed that everything Dimitry did was carefully motivated by his character.  For example, he kept loosing his pick between the strings while attempting to play a mandolin.  He tried using a ping pong ball as a pick because it was too thick to fit between the strings..  Then he turned the mandolin horizontal and played it by bouncing the ping pong ball on the strings.  The ball bounced into his mouth and he apparently swallowed it.  He got a rolling pin out of his trunk.  He lay on his back on the floor and rolled the pin across his stomach.  The ping pong ball shot up out of his mouth, and then landed in his mouth again.  Intrigued by what happened he got out some more ping pong balls and began juggling them with his mouth.  Eventually he juggled five ping pong balls.  When he was done playing he put the balls away in his trunk and moved it out of the way.  He accidentally sat his trunk down on top of the rolling pin.  He noticed that the trunk was wobbly.  He tried to steady it, and ended up climbing on top in an attempt to hold it down.  This led into him performing a rola bola routine while standing on the swaying trunk.  Then he tried using a plate as a pick, which led into a plate juggling routine.  I have never forgotten the artistry of that performance.  My attempt to motivate the things I do as a clown is a direct result of seeing that one performance.


Because I know how important clowning can be, I strive to treat every performance as if it is important.


What is your opinion of clowning as an art?  What do you think it means to respect clowning? How much do you respect it?  What effect does that have on your actions as a clown?

Red Nose Day USA


Red Nose Day has been celebrated in England for over 25 years. On this day Red Noses are sold to raise money for charities. The 1991 Red Nose Day came during the World Clown Convention in Bognor Regis, so I was able to participate in it. They sold three sizes of nose. People could wear the regular size. The large size was designed to be attached to the front grill of a car. The giant size was mounted on the wall of businesses.


In 1992 the World Clown Association chose the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance as the organization's official charity. Inspired by the British Red Nose day, the WCA sold car red noses to raise money for the SIDS Alliance. This effort continued for several years and then it faded away.


Now the first Red Nose Day USA is being organized.   Walgreens drug stores are currently selling special noses for a dollar. Half of the price goes to a variety of charities helping children. The other half goes to paying for the noses. On May 21, NBC will broadcast a live entertainment special in honor of Red Nose Day.


People can submit photos of themselves wearing one of the noses for a Selfie contest.  I would love to see a clown's portrait posted on the Red Nose Day web site.


I am going to see what opportunities I can find locally to participate in Red Nose Day. The promotion is focusing on the noses without reference to the art of clowning. I would like to do something as a clown to remind the public of the meaning of the Red Nose.


What can you do where you live?

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 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 Circus Summit


July 14-18, 2015

West Springfield, MA


Panel Discussion: A Clown Conversation-- What's So Funny?


Jackpot Junction


 World Circus Summit


Colorado Clowns

Day of Education

August 22, 2015

Denver, CO


Clown Camp Reunion


June 2016

La Crosse, WI


Clown Camp Reunion

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