By R. DesRochers
By means of tracing the consequences of exceptional immigration, the arrival of the hot girl, and the little-known vaudeville careers of performers just like the Elinore Sisters, Buster Keaton, and the Marx Brothers, DesRochers examines the relation among comedic vaudeville acts and innovative reformers as they fought over the hot definition of "Americanness."
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Extra info for The New Humor in the Progressive Era: Americanization and the Vaudeville Comedian
According to Thompson, one of the keys to getting an audience to respond and embrace a performer and his act was laughter. ”64 Creating a public space for uninhibited laughter, as the new humorists understood, was an important way of forgetting about the hardships of daily life and a release from restrictive authority. By respecting the audience’s intelligence and appealing to their sense of humor, Thompson was convinced that they would respond in kind. The moralizing and social-improvement agendas that reformers and critics advocated were the wrong way to approach public amusements.
9 Cressy’s then seventeen years of experience 32 The New Humor in the Progressive Era in vaudeville put in perspective the essential element of any vaudeville comedian’s craft. ”10 Many vaudevillians talk about putting it over as the keyy to their success. Critics were also aware of this unique ability and its necessity. Caroline Caffin’s 1914 book, Vaudeville, provides an exceptional resource on the importance of vaudeville during the Progressive era. In it, she wrote: There is another quality, however, of which we become conscious only byy degrees.
The new humorists successfully reached audiences from all social strata, particularly the working and middle classes. In 1910 it was reported that one-third of vaudeville audiences were working-class women and girls, while working-class men made up the rest. ””4 These “new women” were to become a driving force both on- and offstage as suffragists and union advocates, demanding autonomy from the roles of wives and mothers. Vaudeville would come to dominate popular entertainments from the 1880s to the early 1920s.
The New Humor in the Progressive Era: Americanization and the Vaudeville Comedian by R. DesRochers