Bruce Johnson

Charlie The Juggling Clown

Creating Happy Memories that Last a Lifetime


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The Fairest in the Land

 By Bruce “Charlie” Johnson

 (Inflate a white balloon the proper amount for making a balloon swan.  Hold up the straight balloon.)

     There once was a young woman who was tall and slender.  She had hair of ebony black and her smooth skin was white as the snow.  She was the fairest in the land.  You may have heard of her.  Her name was Snow White.  After she married Prince Charming she became the queen. 

      Her favorite possession was her hand mirror.  She loved to sit and look at herself for hours.  But as she got older,  (Move balloon mirror a little away from you) she found she had to hold her mirror further and further away from her to be able to see herself clearly.  Then one day her arm was not quite long enough.  She reluctantly decided that she had to get glasses.  But she didn’t want glasses that she had to wear all the time because people would think she was getting old.  She wanted fashionable glasses on a handle.

 (Divide large loop into two smaller loops.)

     That way she could use her glasses to point when she gave orders.  (Point with balloon glasses.)  You go over there, and you go there.  Then when she thought nobody was looking she could hold up her glasses and take a peek.  She eagerly looked in the mirror so she could see herself clearly once again.  (Hold glasses up in front of your face.)  She gasped.  Her hair was no longer solid ebony.  It had strands of silver running through it.  Her skin was no longer smooth.  There were fine lines all over her face.

     She began to cry.  The members of the court saw her crying and they began to cry as well.  The court jester saw everyone crying, and he also began to cry.  The Queen saw the court jester crying, and he looked so funny that she stopped crying.  The members of the court saw that the Queen had stopped crying, so they stopped too.  But the jester kept crying.  When the Queen asked him why he was still crying, he replied, “Your majesty, you saw yourself in the mirror briefly and you cried.  I have to look at you all the time.  You cried because you think you are loosing your beauty.  But you misunderstood.  You have to look inside.  (Insert one loop into the other to form swans body.)  It was your kindness and compassion for others that made you beautiful.  (Form swans neck.)  When you change the direction of your thoughts you will see that you can still be the fairest in the land.

 Origin and Inspiration:

     When you look in the same place as everybody else for inspiration you find the same ideas as everyone else.  This routine grew out of my interest in origami.  In reading about origami I found a reference to Storigami which is the combination of story telling and origami.  In Storigami, each fold of the paper corresponds to part of the story.  That first reference I found was to Michael LaFosse folding a piece of paper as he told the story of a boy visiting the mountains in Japan .  As he told the story, the folds transformed his sheet of paper into different objects including a snow covered mountain, a bird’s beak, a footprint, and finally a crane that flapped its wings and flew away. I was not able to find any details of his story, but it aroused my curiosity.

     My next introduction to the concept was a performance by Randy Moe.  She performed Kirigami, which is the art of paper cutting.  Each cut that she made in a piece of paper corresponded to points in a story until at the end she opened the paper revealing a silhouette related to the topic.  For example, she told a NW America Native tale about a turtle, and when she opened the paper there was an intricate turtle silhouette.

     When I found Storigami books by Christine Petrell Kallevig at my local library I came to a better understanding of the idea.  I purchased a copy of her Bible Folding Stories: Old Testament Stories and Paperfolding Together As One for my personal library.  I have learned and performed some of her stories.  She uses Storigami to teach people of all ages how to do origami.  The story serves as a memory aid reminding you of the next fold to make.  I have used her advice on teaching origami to improve the origami classes that I have taught at some variety arts conferences.

     I have not yet mastered the art of balloon twisting.  I have learned a few sculptures mainly for my own enjoyment.  One of the ones that I did learn was how to make a balloon swan so that I could perform Ted “Suds” Sudbrack’s balloon swan levitation.  Since there are so few twists in the swan it seemed a natural for experimenting with combining balloon sculpture and story telling. 

      The joke about the monarch crying, and the jester’s response, is based on clown history.  The tale of a king briefly glimpsing himself in a mirror is one of my favorite stories about a court jester.  The name of the Jester was Nasir Ed Din.  I have used this story when teaching about clown history.  I have also told it in the first person when I appeared as a jester character.  

     I know that we judge things by contrast.  The drama of an event is heightened if you juxtapose it with comedy.  Therefore I wanted to include some humor just before the moral of the story.  The idea that the Court Jester was the monarch’s truth teller made that character the perfect one to provide the final lesson.

     I like to perform this routine with a soft musical background.  I have chosen a song called Always and Forever because it matches the emotional feeling I want for the routine.  That song is included in Arthur and Leslie Stead’s Make It Gospel royalty free music CD.

 Your variation:

     What other interests, besides entertainment, do you have in your life?  How can you use what you learn related to that interest as a source of inspiration for new routines? 


Copyright 2008 by Bruce "Charlie" Johnson.  All rights reserved.

Originally published in The Funny Paper

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