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charliecheckers
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Today we kicked off a new show with a new look. We took a bold step and changed the look of Checkers by removing the clown make up and nose, as well as simplifying the wardrobe and moving him to a talking character. Despite great success with our past, we believe taking this risk is important to the development of our brand. I share this here, because many ask what can be learned by watching someone like Zucchini. This move we made was done so in order to allow Checkers to connect even better and more intimately with our audiences. Watching Zucchini made us really question if we were optimizing this critical component of branding and success in the past. Initially, this was an idea we were nervous about and debated plenty before coming to agreement. Now we are confident that audiences will connect with us even better than before.
Dynamike
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There is always going to be more to learn. Adding characters can help get more gigs. Your client had you come as a certain the previous year. The present year they might want you as a different character. But be careful and don't spread yourself too thin. I have different characters myself. But it took me time to reach them. I thought I knew everything earlier years. I am still learning more creative ideas from myself and others.
The Great Zucchini
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Love it Chalie-Keep me posted on it, pal
Starrpower
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Mike, he is not adding a character, he is adapting his existing Checkers character. It's still Checkers, just a different Checkers.

I think it's a good thing to try. I remember when I was a kid I watched a local TV show called "The Funny Farm". One of the characters was the show's puppeteer, who also appeared on camera as the farmer Homer. During a hiatus, he grew a beard. Now this was interesting -- how do you deal with a change of character? Would the beard make the kids feel uncomfortable?

I was just a child so I don't recall the timeline, but it seemed like a week or two he appeared on camera hiding his face with his hat. The story line was that Albert (the cat puppet on the show) had hair-growing solution and Homer accidentally splashed some on his face. Eventually, when he was revealed to have a beard, the kids were "transitioned" to expect something different.

Personally, I think kids would be fine having just been told that Homer grew a beard, but I think it was interesting to see how a television station handled the situation of a major character undergoing a change in appearance.
charliecheckers
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Starrpower, that's a perfect comparison. We have developed a following and to some of our fans the change in Checkers may appear stark. We will let everyone here know how it goes.
Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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I have transitioned my performing character gradually over the years. I was a clown (with a fairly heavy, semi-traditional tramp/auguste make-up) and a funny accent. I even called myself by a different name. While making the most obvious changes (losing the make-up, accent, toning the costume way down, and changing the name) during this transitional period I was doing a twice weekly table hopping gig. I was kind of surprised by a couple of main things. One was that I did in fact feel much more connected to my audience, and funnier too, the closer I got to my authentic personality and appearance. The second was that it was very well received, although not really noticed in a conscious way by the audience. At least nothing was ever said by the regular patrons or management of the restaurant like 'where's your clown nose' or 'what happened to your accent' etc. Even the kids, who, as you know, tend to speak right up about things they notice, didn't seem a bit confused by the change. It was as if there was enough of me coming through to begin with, that the trappings of make-up, costume and accent were never really that important to them. It goes to show that sometimes the things that we get hung up on as performers are not the things that are important to our audience. I think you'll find that if your audience actually notice the changes, they'll accept them pretty readily.
David Pitts
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Comedy Magician and Ventriloquist
http://www.mrpitts.com
magicgeorge
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I always thought the big jump would be the other way!

I'm always wondering if I could do a show without speaking but I don't think I'd be able to do it.

Can I ask? Has being a silent performer not made you quite unique and different from everyone else out there?

I love a good silent act. Are they on the way out?

Image
Mary Mowder
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I think it is a great move.

I've always been put off by clowns despite being a roady for Ronald McDonald for many years. I came to really like Ronald as a character but I did see the drawbacks.

Lots of kids are afraid of clowns.

It is hard to keep clown make-up looking professional in the heat and as one ages.

You could also try for a less made up Auguste look.

-Mary Mowder
MrG
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I agree - great move. I made the transition years ago and my show and bookings grew exponentially. I predict Checkers is a hit.
charliecheckers
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Quote:
On 2014-02-04 15:48, magicgeorge wrote:
I always thought the big jump would be the other way!

I'm always wondering if I could do a show without speaking but I don't think I'd be able to do it.

Can I ask? Has being a silent performer not made you quite unique and different from everyone else out there?

I love a good silent act. Are they on the way out?

Image


George - we have a two person act. Charlie always spoke, but Checkers was a silent character in a supportive role. Speaking allows Checkers a great deal more flexibility during the show and makes our after show interactions a lot more productive.
The Great Zucchini
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If anyone follows Charlie on Facebook, the crowds at his shows are huge. His following has grown so fast in such a shor time.
magicgeorge
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Sorry Charlie & Checkers. Never realised you are 2 people!
charliecheckers
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Quote:
On 2014-02-04 16:06, Mary Mowder wrote:
I think it is a great move.

I've always been put off by clowns despite being a roady for Ronald McDonald for many years. I came to really like Ronald as a character but I did see the drawbacks.

Lots of kids are afraid of clowns.

It is hard to keep clown make-up looking professional in the heat and as one ages.

You could also try for a less made up Auguste look.

-Mary Mowder


Mary - you summed up the drawbacks precisely. We never really considered all of the pros and cons of our characters originally, they just grew organically from our youth. Now, having our own experience as well as the wisdom gained from Zucchini (and others here), it became more clear that despite apparent success, there is an opportunity to improve our offering.

Thanks for the kind words Zucchini - means a lot to me.
Thanks for the insights Mr.Pitts and Mr. G.
Sam Sandler
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While I like clowns and was one for 8 years. full white faced clown. Gizmo the magic clown was i.

however it was after touring with an illusion show that I came home and realized that the clown was never going to let me be who I really was.
He was holding me back. people would never take me seriously enough.

when I lost the clown outfit it was the best thing I ever did. (i am not by any means knocking clowns, merely pointing out that for me it was time to move on)

it sounds like it is time for you as well. I have enjoyed my career moving forward in bigger ways since losing the clown years ago.

I am sure that you will develop a new personality and will find more freedoms to be the real you as you perform this way.

good luck and always be true to yourself.

sam
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
http://www.samsandler.com
http://www.deafinitelymagic.com
NYCTwister
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NO offense to any clowns, but I think the end is near for all but circus clowns.

I performed as a clown for a few years. I found that when I took off the make up I was much better received, especially by the children.
I did basically the same shtick, and magic, I just got better reactions.

Many a birthday child spent the entire time I was there hiding behind their parents. Many of them refused to be in the same room.

In addition adults tended to be more receptive to me after the show. Talking to them while in clown persona, with children watching, was very problematic.

I've found that most children are afraid of clowns. They are just too outside the norm for them to relate to.

In the circus they are far away so they are less threatening; but up close it's a much different situation.
If you need fear to enforce your beliefs, then your beliefs are worthless.
curtgunz
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Quote:
On 2014-02-04 16:06, Mary Mowder wrote:

I've always been put off by clowns...



Me too. Lol.



Like anything, it is all about the professionalism and skills.

My market LOVES clowns and I pride myself on being fun and approachable.


If you think about it, a clown, or any costume character is at least twice as big as the kid.

If someone between 10-12 feet tall, wearing bright clothes, and make-up came at me yelling and moving wildly I'd be scared too.

But those dynamics are there for any performer.

When the performer empowers the children and is sensitive to the kids' fears, needs, and sense of humor & wonder everyone leaves with smiles and memories.

I agree that BAD clowns are on the way out, just like hack magicians, untalented face-painters and other shoddy performers.

Folks are demanding (and rightfully so) better entertainment for their entertainment dollars.

But, clowning as an art form and even birthday clowning is alive and well. It's not going anywhere.

Folks have been saying ventriloquism, magic, juggling, etc. etc. are on the way out for years. Thankfully they are wrong.

There's lots of room for all kinds of performers. I think Charlie and company are going to knock it out of the park because he is always thinking from the customers' perspective.

Good luck with the new approach. Keep us posted on your success.
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The Great Zucchini
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I had the same feeling when I shed colorful vest years ago. I didn't need it and it humanized me after show, etc
Mary Mowder
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Part of the problem is the sick portrayal of Clowns in various T.V. and Movie projects, both in the past and today.

After a while it gets hard to wade through all those negative impressions.

I do respect good Clowning and grew to REALLY respect my friend Ronald. (Some of my best friends are Clowns. LOL)

My whole family just loved a silver clown that we often saw on Don Ameche's International Showtime.

-Mary Mowder
charliecheckers
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There definitely is still room for clowns that bring it big. Here is a clown Dynamike introduced me to via TMC. Warning though, his music is addicting. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ICCCNFVtfkE&feature=m-ch-fea
And... I think even Zucchini would be jealous of his branding (LOL).
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