Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #565
September 21, 2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

This is a change of seasons. It is the beginning of fall for my subscribers in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the beginning of spring for my subscribers in the Southern Hemisphere. Many people use a change of season as a fresh start to begin new projects or set new goals. What will you accomplish during this new season?
I believe that it is important for a variety artist to continue their education. However, that does not necessarily mean attending a variety arts conference or lecture. Creative entertainers look for inspiration and information in a variety of places. The main article for this week was inspired by a lecture I attended at a group of people who enjoy old time radio programs. I learned several things during the lecture that I think I can apply to my own career.
I have been enjoying an American TV program called "Face Off", which is a make up competition. It is broadcast on the SyFy channel. It is interesting watching how the competitors use the creative process.
The "Face Off" judges ask the contestants to explain their concept based on the character. The contestants don't just concentrate on making something that looks interesting. The appearance is part of telling a story and has to relate to the character's personality, history, and environment. That is a concept that is definitely true for variety artists creating their appearance.
"Face Off" has introduced me to some materials I was not aware of that the contestants use in constructing props and wardrobe elements. There are some things that I want to explore for use in my props.
What new sources of inspiration and information can you find?

I will see you down the road,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Happy Birthday
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 
September 21,2015
By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

"Learning by reading is better than learning by watching a video." -- Curtis Takahashi
I recently attended a lecture by Curtis Takahashi at a meeting of the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound. Takahashi is a script writer for contemporary radio dramas performed by Jim French Productions, and a Foley Artist (creating sound effects). Takahashi said radio drama is better than television. Radio drama, and other verbal story telling, aids creativity because it provides active stimulation causing you to create your own images. It awakens your mind to create new thoughts and ideas. I do a lot of reading which I know has strengthened my imagination by providing exercise to my mental muscles. That in turn has strengthened my creativity. Many of my new routines begin with imagining what it will look like from the audience's perspective. Then I figure out a method to make it actually happen.
The power of creating your own images is why people who see a movie after reading a book are often disappointed in the movie. I read Fire Starter, a book by Stephen King. In the book a young girl has the ability to psychically produce fire. Based on King's descriptions I could vividly imagine many of the scenes. After finishing the book, I know that I reimagined some of the scenes as I recalled them so they became different.  Then I later saw the movie based on the book. I did not like the movie because it did not match up to my own unique images. In some cases what I imagined was better than what I saw on the screen. In some cases the special effects in the movie were beyond what I had imagined, but they were still disappointing because they seemed wrong.
Takahashi said stimulus from television has the potential to hinder your creativity because it is passive stimulation causing you to uncritically accept images provided by somebody else. Television, movies, and video do not activate your brain.
Also video media lock one specific image into your memory. I watched the early seasons of a television series called "Castle." Richard Castle, the main character, is an author riding along with police to research a series of mysteries. Eventually as a tie in a series of Nikki Heat novels "written by" Richard Castle was published. They were fun to read, but not as satisfying. The characters in the novels were not the characters in the TV series. However, I was never able to picture the characters in the novel as looking like anything except the actors and actresses in the TV series.
Several years ago I gave private juggling lessons to a student. He had tried unsuccessfully to learn to juggle via video and spent a lot of time watching juggling performances on YouTube. I was able to diagnose what he was doing wrong in terms of juggling and he quickly mastered the basics. However, he had trouble moving beyond that. He was intent on trying to learn tricks he had seen on internet videos, but we were not always able to figure out exactly how it was done. When I could duplicate the tricks, he was not able to copy them because he did not have the proper foundation of skill. I was able to devise similar tricks that were within his skill level, but he didn't want to practice them because they were different from what he had seen. Eventually the lessons tapered off because neither of us was happy with the results.
A video can help you master a particular technique like a specific sleight of hand move. Although you may be able to learn it faster than by reading about it that is not always an advantage. When I lived in Southern California, I purchased a magic effect from Bill Pearce. When he saw me performing it a few months later, he asked me to teach it to him. He was surprised when I said I thought I was using his method. In trying to figure out his written instructions I had stumbled upon a simpler way of doing a sleight involved in the effect.
How can you use reading to spark your imagination? What can you read to further your education? Do you listen to recordings of old time radio shows?

Happy Birthday

On September 21 a judge ruled that the song "Happy Birthday" is now part of the public domain. The copyright holders agreed not to appeal the decision. That means that entertainers can now use the song without having to pay a royalty fee. Previously a large amount had to be paid to the company owning the copyright. That company made over two million dollars annually in charging people for using their song.
However, remember that the composer is not the only person protected by copyright. A specific arrangement is still protected by copyright and you cannot legally use that arrangement without paying a royalty fee to the arranger. A specific performance is also protected by copyright and you cannot legally use a recording of the song without paying a royalty fee to the performer. So while you can now perform "Happy Birthday" in your own shows, you may not use a recording of "Happy Birthday" without getting permission and paying the appropriate fees.
That is why I like using royalty free music like that produced by Randy Christensen and Arthur & Leslie Stead. When I purchase the music the royalty fee is included. I do not have to pay any additional fees for its use. However, that only covers use in my own performances. I cannot purchase a royalty free recording and give my copy to somebody else to use in their performances.
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

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