Vaudeville Humor: The Collected Jokes, Routines, and Skits of Ed Lowry

By Ed Lowry; Paul M. Levitt | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

If stealing jokes had been a crime, most vaudevillians would have ended up in jail. So great was the traffic in stolen jokes that the trade itself became a source of humor. At the conclusion of their acts, comedians would dash off to other vaude houses to hear competitors' routines. Shamelessly taking what they liked, sometimes altering the material, sometimes not, they rarely if ever acknowledged the source of their humor. When radio comedians became popular, the stage performers also stole from them—and vice versa. The traffic became so blatant that one wag quipped, "I was listening to the radio in order to steal some gags. Some of them came so fast, I almost dropped my pencil." But piracy had begun long before the advent of radio and was nothing new, as some doggerel from the early 1920s makes clear.

Good old King Tut, a waggish nut,
Made all his people happy;
He made up jokes to please the folks,
And some of them were snappy.
His ancient puns are famous ones,
We never can forget them,
Howe'er we try; they cannot die—
Ed Wynn will never let them!

Tut little dreamed, as people screamed
And doubled up in laughter,
That other wags would use his gags
Three thousand long years after.
He didn't know the radio
Would ever be perfected—
And that his wit would bolster it
He never once suspected.

But every night his nifties bright,
Revived by Pearl or Bernie,
Have got us awed when sent abroad
On their ethereal journey.
His merry quips, when on the lips
Of Jolson, are so funny
That sponsors rush and crowd and push
To pay Al heavy money.

We do not know the debt we owe
To this long mummied punster,
Nor how his stuff has smoothed the rough
For many a modern funster.

-1-

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Vaudeville Humor: The Collected Jokes, Routines, and Skits of Ed Lowry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Jokes 11
  • Part Two - Mc Material: Biz, Jokes, Routines, and Skits 293
  • Appendix Glossary of Names Index 413
  • Appendix: Ed Lowry Laffter 415
  • Glossary of Names 441
  • Index 457
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