"Doors Open at 7:30"                

"The Trouble Begins at 8:00"

MT began his career as a platform entertainer out West, after he'd achieved notoriety as a newspaper writer. When he began speaking in the East, he worried about how to meet the expectations of audiences who loved to listen to oratory, but whose tastes had been formed by lyceum lectures. His early performances, usually given as part of a lecture series, combined humor, information and eloquence in measures that delighted most people -- though at first there were some objections to him as merely a humorist. By the 1880s, the rise of MT's star and the setting of the lyceum network enabled him to define his platform performances more freely. For the 1884-1885 tour with Cable he "read from" (really, spoke from memory) his writing, an entertainment Dickens had introduced into America. Later MT became something like a stand-up philosopher whose carefully rehearsed and timed monologues felt like intimate conversation. Almost from the start, he loved and hated touring, with its frustrations and rewards. He started talking about retiring from the stage in the early 1870s. He never did.

Illustration from
Following the Equator

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