Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #564
August 31, 2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I would like to thank Fran Etzkorn, Darryl Dugan, and the rest of the Colorado Clowns for their hospitality during my workshop a week ago. We had good attendance and it was a great group of participants. I enjoyed seeing people realize how they could use something in their own entertainment.
The next educational program which I have confirmed is the Clown Camp Reunion next June. Although it is called a Reunion you don't have to participated in the past to attend this time. There will be some special events and performances saluting the history of the program. However, there will be classes for all levels of experience. I am tentatively scheduled to teach two sessions on origami. One session will be traditional origami using a single square sheet of paper. The other session will be using two sheets of paper or using rectangular paper. In the second session we will use dollar bills, index cards, and playing cards. In both sessions I will share ideas in how to entertain using origami.
There was a mistake in the August 17 issue of my newsletter. I left out a letter in Lee Mullally's email address. If you would like to contribute to the new Back2Basics section of Clowning Around, published by the World Clown Association, send your short article to Lee at Put "Back2Basics November CA" in your e-mail's subject line. The deadline is September 20.

I will see you down the road,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Tricks of the Trade - Origami
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 
August 31,2015
By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson
"Keep a balloon in your pocket so you are always ready for an emergency and can do Make It Bigger." -- Advice given to me by Lucy Loyal, sixth generation circus performer, while I was touring with the Carson & Barnes Circus 1980
Lucy's advice to always be ready for an emergency related to a circus clown's responsibilities. One day I exited the tent after doing the come in and saw Patricia White, the show's wild animal trainer, in street clothes talking to some other people with the show. She looked at me, and asked, "Why are you out here?" Then she paused to listen to the band, "Tell me that isn't my music!" She had lost track of time and didn't hear the Ringmaster announce her act. She had to change into her costume before she could do her act. I grabbed the props for my golf routine which was one of my potential fillers, and ran past the Ringmaster anxiously looking out the back door of the tent. When the band leader saw me enter the ring he cued the musicians to switch from Patricia's music to my music. My golf routine was designed to be of variable length. When Patricia was ready, the Ringmaster stood on an elephant tub where he sometimes made announcements. That was my subtle cue to move to the finale of the act. Then he introduced me to the crowd, the band blew a chord, and as I exited he introduced Patricia. She entered with a great smile, nodded to me as I bowed when she passed me, and swung into her act.
A clown can be called upon to fill unexpected delays in other shows. I was appearing in a holiday variety show when a magician began using a lot of confetti. Instead of waving a magic wand, he threw confetti into the air. When he took a box apart to show something had vanished, a pile of confetti fell out. By the time he was finished the floor was covered by confetti. When a prop person tried to walk on the stage he slipped and fell on the confetti. The next act was a young woman doing an acrobatic baton twirling act finishing with fire batons. It would have been impossible for her to do her act on a confetti strewn floor. The stage manager ordered me to stall, and pushed me towards the front of the stage. The curtain closed behind me. I had about twelve inches on the apron of the stage to work in, and my shoes are eighteen inches long so my toes stuck out in mid-air. I always carry a feather duster with me, so I began to clean off the curtain. My foot accidentally hit a cut out decoration leaning against the stage so it fell over. When somebody from the audience propped it back up, I dusted it off. I saw a young boy in the front row eating popcorn, so I looked at him hungrily. At his mother's urging he offered me his box of popcorn. I took out three pieces which I juggled, and threw them up catching them in my mouth. By then the stage had been swept and the curtain opened behind me. I took a bow and exited.
Something else that I can use to fill time is a pantomime routine. I learned Bert Williams' poker routine, which requires no props, and Red Skelton's Button Sewing routine, which requires a coat and chair, for my Tramp Tradition show. I have used both of them when I needed to fill time.
I have learned some Native American tales and some poetry related to clowning that I can use to fill time.
You may need to be able to do an impromptu act off the stage as well. This past weekend a family with five boys was visiting our house. We had planned outdoor activities, but due to high winds branches were falling from trees around our home making being outside hazardous. Our power went out. I had planned three magic tricks that I could perform while the boys were here in case it was needed. I performed those three tricks, and then picked up a deck of cards.   Using sleight of hand I did several more unprepared impromptu routines. Some of them I was able to improvise based on comments from the boys. The important thing was the interaction between us provided a fun experience. Then I grabbed some paper to teach them origami. I finished by taking a section of that morning's paper and made origami hats for each of the boys which they proudly wore home.
Origami can be an impromptu art because paper is widely available. I have folded origami figures for people out of restaurant comment cards, brochures in hotel information racks, church bulletins, and notebook paper. People have commented on how special it made them feel that I went out of my way to use available materials to give them a memento of the occasion.
Trick cartoons are another impromptu art. One time I was having lunch in a hotel restaurant when a young boy recognized me as being an entertainer who had been in a public show the night before. He asked for my autograph. I found a scrap of paper and drew a trick cartoon which I signed. My local contact later told me the boy's father had taken time to let him know how much he appreciated the personal attention one of the performers had paid to his son.
If you needed to fill some time, which of your skills would you be able to use? What should you plan to have with you so you are ready to fill time? How can you use available materials to give somebody a memento? How can you give someone personal attention?



Tricks of the Trade -- Origami

Some origami folders use a "bone," a long narrow straight edge, to help them make folds. You can purchase specially constructed bones from origami suppliers. However, for many applications a Popsicle / craft stick will work just as well.
Traditional origami paper is called "kami." It is frequently a solid color or pattern on one side and white or a contrasting color on the opposite side. This works well in folding some models like a penguin. An alternative to kami is wrapping paper. It frequently has contrasting sides. By choosing wrapping paper with an appropriate design you can fold models to fit any theme or occasion.
The traditional drinking cup and Samurai helmet both make great bases for hats when folded out of larger pieces of paper. By altering some of the folds you can change them into other hats like a Dutch Girl, Robin Hood, or a Pirate. It is also simple to change them into an animal head like a cat.
To learn more creative ideas for using origami, come to my classes at the Clown Camp Reunion.
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.


Clown Camp Reunion


June 12-17, 2016

La Crosse, WI


Clown Camp Reunion

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