Academic journal article Mark Twain Journal

Twain's Brand: Humor in Contemporary American Culture

Academic journal article Mark Twain Journal

Twain's Brand: Humor in Contemporary American Culture

Article excerpt

JUDITH YAROSS LEE, Twain's Brand: Humor in Contemporary American Culture. Illustrated. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012. 226 pp. Index. Cloth.

Twain's Brand sets out to prove that "Mark Twain's comic capital remains productive and profitable today," and the first chapter examines Twain's feats in grasping and exploiting the interrelationship of humor, laughter, and the exchange of money. His brilliant promotions of his name, image, and comic techniques mean that "his reputation remains as potent today as at his death in 1910" and that "audiences today, as in his own time, know his humor even without having opened any of his books." Lee analyzes Twain's impact on what we call stand-up comedians, displaying her knowledge of an incredible array of performers ranging from Garrison Keillor (another humorist who "plays a fictional version" of himself) to Jon Stewart (once called "the most trusted name in fake news") to Jerry Seinfeld ("the celebrity sit-com") to Margaret Cho ("tales of abjection and sexual transgresson"). …

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