Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #559
May 11, 2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



The workshop that I am doing for the Colorado Clowns in August will have a creativity theme.  Much of it will be based on my Creativity for Entertainers book trilogy, but I will also be sharing a lot of new information I've learned or developed since those books were published.  It has been said that if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he eats for the rest of his life.  My addition to that is, if you teach a man to fish but don't give him a fish he might starve before he catches anything.  So this workshop will do both.  Participants will learn ideas that I have developed which they can quickly add to their performances, and they will learn the process I used in developing those ideas so they will be able to develop their own ideas in the future.


I'll be sharing more information with you soon about this workshop.


Don't forget that the World Circus Summit is coming up.  I am looking forward to it very much.  I think the biggest problem is going to be that I won't have time to do everything I would like to do. 


I got my start with Circus Kirk, a touring youth circus.  I was with Circus Kirk during its last two seasons.  I learned a lot there that played an important role in my career. Circus Smirkus was inspired by Circus Kirk.  There will be an optional trip to see Circus Smirkus the day after the World Circus Summit.  I have never seen this show before, so I am looking forward to that trip.  The American Youth Circus Organization will have a strong presence throughout the Summit.  I know that somebody performing there may be one of the future stars of the circus.


I will see you down the road,



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

Thought For The Week 

May 11,2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson



I have been very involved in the Boy Scouts of America for the past five years. I am concluding my second year in charge of the Cub Scout Roundtable, which is a monthly leadership development meeting. I have learned things through the training I have received from the BSA that has improved the variety arts classes that I teach and also impacted my clowning. Some of them are things that I had been doing instinctively, but now I know enough to use them more effectively on purpose.


Reflection Time is a period at the Roundtable meeting when I ask a question which each person takes a turn answering. Here are some examples. "What service project has your Pack completed in the past year?" "Where is your favorite place to hike?" "What is your favorite memory from your Pack's events last summer?" "How does your Pack communicate with the members?"


Through Reflection Time I have gotten to know the participants better, they have gotten to know each other, they have become actively involved instead of being passive observers, and I have learned new information myself.


When I was on the board for an amateur clown club I sometimes used this technique. I might ask, "What was your most recent clown performance?" During a period when many of the members became too ego centric, I used questions to shift the focus by asking things like, "What did you see another member do recently that impressed you?"


When I attend an educational program, I am often seated at a meal with somebody I don't know. As an ice breaker I frequently ask, "How did you get started in clowning?" or "What type of clowning do you enjoy the most?" My favorite question though is, "What do you do when you are not clowning?" People are surprised that I am interested in them as a person beyond being a clown. Also, I have learned fascinating things. For example, one clown was a button salesman who taught me that many pearl buttons were made from the shells of fresh water clams harvested in the Mississippi River.


I have used questions when I do strolling clowning to involve audience members. When I worked at Raging Waters I performed almost exclusively in silence. When I carried a badminton shuttlecock in a bird cage, I had a little sign that said, "This is my birdie. What should I call him? Or is he a she?"


A little girl replied, "Call him Rudolph because he has a red nose."


A woman told me, "Your birdie is a he because he is a shuttlecock. If it was a she, it would be a shuttlehen."


Sometimes I carried a Blue Jay, a large cutout letter J painted sky blue, in my cage. One day a man commented that my bird might be sick because it was a little pale. I asked him what he thought was wrong. Suddenly we were surrounded by a group of people discussing the health of my bird. Finally the consensus was he was love sick because he didn't have a girlfriend. They suggested that I get an "O-riole" to keep him company. Using that as inspiration I carried a package of Oreo cookies in the cage the next week.


I visit nursing homes as Santa. When I go into a resident's room, I look for something I can comment on or ask about. For example, if they have a poinsettia, I might comment on its beauty and ask where it came from. That often leads to them telling me about their family.


When meeting somebody new, how can you use questions to draw them out? In a group setting, how can you use questions to solicit ideas and change the group dynamics? How can you use questions to get audience members involved in your performances?

Trick of the Trade


People who live in the north are beginning to make the transition from winter clothing to summer clothing.  Before you put your winter clothing away, take a look at it and decide if it is time to repurpose some of it. Sleeves from sweat shirts and flannel shirts make great covers to protect magic tubes and other props.  Sleeves can also be easily turned into a bag for holding something like a set of juggling balls.  A piece of flannel or fleece in the bottom of a magic box will serve as a cushion so dropping a prop inside will make less noise.

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 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

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

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