“STORYTELLING” ARE YOU A MAD LIBBER?
Submitted by Elaine “Daisy D. Dots” Vercellone
WCA Junior Joey Director
ARE YOU A MAD LIBBER?
Hi, Happy Fall to all our Junior Joeys! I have a question. While taking a trip somewhere, have you ever kept yourself busy by doing a “Madlib” book? When I was growing up (not done yet), these were books with a theme or could sometimes be given as homework to strengthen skills in English of the use of nouns and adjectives. Making up funny words for the sentence was fun and could be challenging. There are Mad Libbooks to write in and today there are even apps for your Ipad, Iphone or laptop to use. These books usually have a “theme” you will be writing about with you providing the filled in lines with a word. These words change the story in many ways. Sometimes it’s obvious it is just to make up a fun story with equally funny words. Which way the story goes is up to you.
I’d like to teach you a way to use these “Madlib” principles
to become a “Storyteller”. So much of our clowning and entertaining requires us to create and memorize “patter”. Patter is
used to knit the way you are using your skit, magic trick or prop into a story that makes it believable and special. Where can you use storytelling? Everywhere you go! The more ways you learn to
use it, the more you will be remembered as a good entertainer.
No matter how many computer devices we have, they will never replace that “personal touch”. Once you begin creating
Stories, you will begin to feel more confident and it will come easier with each one you create.
I began writing my first stories when I was in third grade. I always loved puppets. I had so many animal puppets, mostly puppies. I gave them their own voices and had them talking together when I was 5 or 6. Then we added Punch and Judy. Seeing my interest, my parents began purchasing some wonderful marionettes for each special day (birthday, holidays) that came. To this day I still have most of my incredible Hazelle Marionettes. There was Robin Hood, Maid Marion, Dagwood, Pinocchio, a witch, a dragon, a woodcutter, Rapunzel, an old man, Little Red Riding Hood and so many more.
I learned quickly. One reason for this is that I had a lot of opportunity. We did not have computers of any kind or even ways we could watch a show over again if we missed it the first time. We had to create ways to have fun. The second reason was my love of creating a story. Sometimes I would start a story and it would change as things happened. I’d keep getting ideas to add. It was so much fun! Sometimes I never even knew how my story would end until I got to that part and everything just seemed to come together and write the end for me.
Then my brother Tom had hand made me a beautiful wooden puppet stage. It could sit on something that could be the right height for me to stand while performing with marionettes or on a higher landing so I could use puppets. I loved it. By third grade I was performing with my puppetry in our school library for each of the grades in my elementary school. Back then in the Summertime, kids would get together to run a “Fair” in their background to help charities like Muscular Dystrophy, March of Dimes, or American Heart Association, just to name a few. We would hand write a flyer
and go door to door to give them out and invite all the kids and their parents. There was just a small fee to get in the backyard ( .25cents) and a small fee for lemonade during Intermission. It was a great time and we felt good because we were doing it to help others.
Having told you all of this, do not misunderstand me that storytelling is just for puppets. That is just another venue to use. Storytelling can be done quietly at someone’s bedside or to just one person at home, at a hospital or at a nursing home. It can be done for a few people while waiting in a long line together, or to a classroom full of kids. It can be done around a campfire at night with friends and family. It can be a generic story that would have the potential to appeal to everyone or it could be a personalized story designed to treat someone very special. One of the best things to come of my learning storytelling was when I had children. Having children gave me so many times to use it. When we had to wait for something, a doctor, a line, waiting for dad to arrive home or a good night story at the end of the day to help a little one go to sleep. There were so many times I was grateful to have storytelling in my back pocket. And so many stories to be told ! It is very much
like going to the library and taking out a book about a subject you want to share with someone or learn yourself.
There were also many T.V. shows on during the daytime when I was growing up thatincluded a little bit of storytelling in every show. There was “Romper Room”, “Mr. Rodgers”, later on of course, Sesame Street. Today there are a lot of kids shows on T.V. to watch andlearn from. Actually, when you think about it, every
Show or movie you watch have a story to tell.
First think about the age group you would like to target. With the Christmas holiday upon us, there are many stories you can choose to tell. Many are well known and everyone knows…that is until they hear you tell it. One of my very favorite story tellers, Marcela “Mama Clown”, tells the funniest stories by changing the stories everyone knows. Changing parts of the story that are important gives the kids you are telling the story to, a chance to correct you and take part with you. When Mama Clown tells the story of Santa, she gets all mixed up and the kids have to keep telling her the way it is supposed to go. As she tells the story, she is telling it with a smile and such happiness! She is excitedly telling you a story she thinks you have never heard before. Meanwhile, everyone is laughing and having so much fun! They also feel pretty good about themselves because they know how the story really goes and they are helping the storyteller learn the real way.
Mama Clown has always shown that it is not us who are the star
of the show. Make the person who you are entertaining the star of the show. Help them feel like the star and your star will always shine. Sometimes people may not remember exactly what you did.
But, they will always remember how you made them feel.
So, now we’ve looked at some of the different ways you can use to be a storyteller! Let’s put together some important points:
ALL stories have:
a Beginning, a Middle, and an End.
They consist of- The Set Up – Explanation of who the characters or subjects in the story are.
The Body of the story – This is usually a conflict of some kind.
Something happens to a character or characters
The solution -What happens to ease the conflict of the story and a way to bring the story to an end.
Will the end be a happy or a sad one? Usually as clowns we should always try to have a happy ending that makes everyone feel good.
Think of the end as the “Blow Off” of a skit. It brings together everything that happened before it. Sometimes the end is not what you thought it would be at all. Think childlike when creating your stories. That is one of the enviable traits of a clown. They always have a way of seeing things as if through a child’s eyes.
Ideas or ways to tell a story:
1.Mad Libs (more about this later)Choose a theme and a purpose. Is there something you feel strongly about?
At the end there could be a “moral of the story”. Maybe there is: bullying in school, cutting in line, feeling sad,
Your stories can teach something, share an idea, show ways to bring people together, and more. It really is
only limited by your own imagination.
- Using well known stories and changing them up.
How about “Mostly the Snowman”, Rudolf the Purple Nose Reindeer”, and The Four Little Pigs”? Or the correct names together with the wrong story ideas?
Personalizing: Remember I wrote about this idea at the beginning of the article? I’d like to share a birthday party story I created and how I put it together. This is like MadLibs.
When a customer called me a while back, she asked me if I could create something special for her. In order to do so I asked her for some special information:
Name and age of birthday child? Ans: Theodora, 4 years old Where do they live? Ans.: Woodcliff Lake
Who else lives in their house with them?
Ans:A big sister named Maddie
Do they have some special Grandmas and Grandpas they
see often? What is the name they call them by?
ANS: Pop Pop and Mimi
Will their sibling be present? If so, how old are they?
Ans: Yes, Older sister ( 6years old) Maddie
What does the birthday child like to do the most?
Ans: Theo (nickname they use) loves to play Princess
What T.V. Shows do they enjoy?
Ans: Cinderella & Snow White
Favorite color? Ans: Pink ( of course)
Anything else favorite to the birthday child?
Ans: Favorite stuffed lamb named “Lambie”
(Because this is a younger child, I knew they would probably have a favorite stuffed animal, real dog or even a blanket they
Do they have any animals?
Ans: 2 cats named “Rover”, and “Ralphie”.
Other ideas on things you could find out are:
Does she have any best friends she plays with?
Has she recently traveled anywhere special?
Think of some questions you may want to ask about. Have ideas? WRITE them down right this moment. Have a pen
and pad or something similar that you could write
continuous notes on. When you get an idea you think
may really have a chance to make a great story, always write
it down. You may never use it. But, then again, you might!
Another important thing to remember; If you are going to be telling this story in the presence of the other birthday party
Kids, you want to make it fun! How? By adding in some
Repetition that they can take part in and say out loud when you get to a special part in the story. Interaction is key in
entertaining successfully at a child’s birthday party.
Here then is the story I created for a little girl named “Theo”:
“ A gift for Princess Theodora”
Once upon a time there were two beautiful Princesses. One was named Princess Theodora and the other was Princess Maddie. They lived in a beautiful castle on Woodcliff Lake. Woodcliff Lake was a quiet little town where everyone knew
each other and greeted each other with a happy “Good Morning” every day.
In the castle, the Princesses lived with their; Kind Dad, Queen Mom, Bubby, Pop Pop and Mimi. They also had a lot of animals to play with.
Around their castle they had a very big yard. In this yard
They had: 2 dogs( can help us say “woof-woof”?, 3 donkeys ( Hee Haw- Hee Haw), 4 horses ( neigh, neigh), 5 ducks ( quack-quack), 6 owls ( who-who), 7 chickens (peep-peep), 8 roosters ( cock a doddle doo), 9 cows ( moo-moo), 10 pigs ( oink-oink) and 2 little kittens named “Rover” and Ralphie”.
OOPS…and I almost forgot…a sweet little lamb named “Lambie”.
Woodcliff Lake was a beautiful town! Everyone was friendly and everyone knew how to -Tap-Dance!! Every morning the Princesses would arise to greet the new day, she would say “Good Morning King Dad, Good Morning Queen Mom, Good Morning to Bubby, Good Morning to Pop Pop, Good Morning to Mimi, Good morning to each and every
Dog, each and every donkey, each and every horse, each and every duck, each and every owl, each and every chicken, each and every rooster, each and every cow, each and every pig,
To Rover and Ralphie, and they always, always remembered to say Hello to “Lambie”.
The little lamb was Princess Theo’s favorite. It was so small, very soft, very pretty and very sweet. AND it loved to cuddle with Princess Theodora. Princess Theodora loved her so much, she is the one who named her “Lambie”.
Lambie was like a best friend to Princess Theo. For Princess Theo knew that she could tell Lamby anything her heart desired and “Lamby” would always look back at her
in such a way, she just knew that “Lamby” understood.
Well, one day as the Princesses were playing in the garden with their friends, Gracie and Andrew, something
happened. It wasn’t a little something that happened. This was a very big something to happen. It made the Princesses and their friends so frightened, they didn’t know what to do!
To Be Continued…..
In the next Clowning Around you will find out the rest of the story. What do you think happened? Can you write an ending for this story or a continuation of it on your own? What do you think happened? Tune in next CA to find out what really happened and whathappens to everyone living in the castle in Woodcliff Lake! Did they tap-dance?
If you have ideas to share or questions, please feel free to e-mail me anytime.
Enjoy your Holiday! See you next time!
From My Clown Heart to yours,
Elaine “Daisy D. Dots” Vercellone
WCA Junior Joey Director
NJ EMT President TBVAC
Hey- don’t forget about our special WCA Junior Joey Pins!
They are still for sale and can be obtained by sending a check
Or money order of 10.00 to Daisy D. Dots. Please put “Pin”
In the Memo line of your check. The one for purchase has
“I support the WCA Junior Joeys Program”. If you would like to see a picture of these go to our Facebook Page, WCA Junior Joey Program. Join us and share to get the word out to other Junior Joeys.
Junior Joey Supporters: Don’t forget, we can’t have a program without your support and encouragement of Juniors in your area. Reach out in your Community and share your clowning
with others. Do you know some teachers or your church group where you can share all about the opportunity for kids to become clowns with us ? Let’s keep our wonderful art of clowning going strong!
END OF ARTICLE 8/31/2016