Charlie's Creative Comedy presents

Thought For The Week

Issue #567
November 2, 2015

By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

I will be performing in a vaudeville style holiday themed show at the Historic Everett Theater in Everett, WA during December.  The theater was built as a vaudeville house and many famous entertainers performed there during those early years.  The show is produced by Curt Shriner.  Curt and his wife serve as the emcees of the show and recreate Burns and Allen routines between the other acts.  I normally perform solo shows so it is always a pleasure appearing in these shows.  I enjoy the comradery with the other talented cast members.  There will be four performances: December 17 at 7:30 PM, December 18 & 19 at 8 PM, and December 20 at 3 PM.  I hope that my subscribers in the Pacific Northwest will be able to attend the shows.
I have added the recent issues of this newsletter to my archive.  You can read them using the link at the bottom of the column on the right.
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I will see you down the road,
In This Issue
Thought For The Week
Trick of the Trade
Educational Opportunities

Thought For The Week 
November 2,2015
By Bruce "Charlie" Johnson

More people contact me about Coulrophobia than any other topic related to clowning.
A month ago I was contacted by a medical student in Pakistan who requested my assistance in designing an experiment on Coulrophobia treatments. He wanted to begin by using abstract designs based on clown make up. I made suggestions on the types of photos he could use in the next step of helping somebody get used to the appearance of clowns. I also suggested some things to consider in selecting videos to show patients. For example, I recommended that slap stick style routines would not be the most effective in somebody overcoming their fear of clowns. I also suggested using a video of somebody applying their clown make up.
During the past month I have heard from two high school students writing papers on Coulrophobia.
A man contacted me today with severe Coulrophobia whose daughter insisted on having a clown perform at her birthday party. He wanted to be there during the party. He asked for my advice on how to cope with his fears. The party is six days from now.
I recently learned that a psychology school considers me to be an expert on Coulrophobia and refers their students to an article on the topic posted on my web site.
When I first started clowning in 1974 I didn't hear anybody discuss a fear of clowns. I don't think the term Coulrophobia existed then. However, while developing my audience interaction style and observing audience members I became aware of people who seemed to be wary of clowns. I discovered that children between the age of two and four tend to be afraid of any living fantasy character including Santa Claus at a mall, Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, and clowns. Through experimentation I discovered some techniques that seemed to reassure them.
When people find out I am a professional clown they often ask questions to satisfy their curiosity about our art. Sometimes people would tell me they were afraid of clowns, and often they explained why. That helped increase my understanding of this condition.
Why has Coulrophobia become such a hot topic? First, portraying clowns as monsters became popular because of the irony of a character causing pain or distress when they are supposed to generate happiness and joy. An example of this is Steven King's "It" where a shape shifting monster sometimes appeared as a clown. Another example is the levitating clown doll in the original "Poltergeist" film. Some of these media portrayals caused people to fear clowns.
Then news reports about Coulrophobia began to appear. It was considered news worthy because it seemed to be a surprising new condition. Other fears, for example, being afraid of heights, were considered common so they weren't news worthy. The news reports caused people to consider clowns as potentially scary characters.
That led to more portrayals of clowns as monsters, and it has become a fad. The original "Poltergeist" film doll was a normal looking clown. The clown did not appear in the film advertising. Posters for this summer's "Poltergeist" remake featured a clown character definitely designed to be frightening. A local department store sold Halloween costumes depicting scary clowns. This past week a Seattle theater company had a scary clown themed haunted house.
How should we respond? First, it does not do any good to protest these portrayals. It will not eliminate them. All it does is draw more attention to them. Also, it makes clowns as a group look bad. Eventually this fad will fade away as others have in the past.
Second, changing appearance does not make clowns less scary. Some people advocate wearing less make up to appear more friendly. However, any difference in appearance can trigger this fear. I have seen performers without any make up except a red nose scare audience members. I have seen audience members who were initially frightened of all clowns warm up to somebody in complete facial make up and be comfortable with them close up.
The most important response is to be aware that there may be people who are frightened of clowns. Scan your audience for them and do not invade their personal space. Allow them to set the limits of their own zone of safety.
Be an advocate for the art of clowning. Take advantage of every opportunity to educate people about the contributions of clowns to society. Be sure that you are consistently a positive example of our art.
To read my article on Coulrophobia go to
 For information on working with young children and others who may be uncertain around clowns go to

Trick of the Trade

You can get Velcro strips that have hooks on one side and loops on the other side.  These are very handy for keeping electrical cords and sound cables coiled.  You can permanently attach them to the cord so you don't have to search for them when packing up.  They are long enough to be handy in other ways.  For example, I coil the cord for my sound system and then use the same strip to fasten the cord to the handle on the top of the system. 
The strips can also be used to hold other objects.  A friend of mine use a staple gun to attach three o the strips inside his performing case.  Then he attaches a strip around the handle of each of his juggling clubs.  The clubs are secure until he is ready to use them yet a quick tug on the end of the strip easily releases the club so it is ready for use.

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.


Clown Camp Reunion


June 12-17, 2016

La Crosse, WI


Clown Camp Reunion


Midwest Clown Association Convention
Sept. 27 - Oct 2, 2016
Merrillville, IN

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

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