Saturday, August 28, 2010

No Applause Just Send Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous

No Applause Just Send Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous
By Trav S.D

Vaudeville is dead,....[but] like a phoenix, rising from the ashes, with scores, perhaps, of hundreds, of new variety venues popping up at alternative theaters and nightclubs throughout the nation....its ghost has continued to haunt us thereafter, and has even possessed the souls of the living in order to walk the earth again."

Sounds creepy.
This book is actually really great because it tells the story of vaudeville and what we know of vaudeville today, how vaudeville started and how modernism shaped it, how people have interpreted "vaudeville" into what they are doing, or the "it's because of vaudeville that this and this occurred" (such as the negative connotation of the word 'actor') and "this comes from vaudeville" (Circus Amok) and so-and-so got their start in vaudeville (Babe Ruth, Harry Houdini, Buster Keaton, Will Rogers, Oscar Hammerstein, etc) kind of stuff. This is a historical book on vaudeville, but doesn't read like a history book.

"This is why vaudeville will always triumph, for it is merely an expression of people's longing for surprise, invention, joy, laughter, tears, transcendence.  it is the theatrical embodiment of freedom, tolerance, opportunity, diversity, democracy, and optimism.  The Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin called this tendency to break out, to laugh, to enjoy living in one's body 'carnival'; but there is another name for it, a tremendous word: vaudeville. A syllogism lies before us. Vaudeville is the life spirit itself, it is our very humanity.  And this is why vaudeville can never be 'dead'. For the day vaudeville flatlines is the day you can also write the epitaph for the human race" (295).

So, all you people who think vaudeville is dead- TAKE THAT!

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