I don't think the difference is as much in who wrote the material as in humor then and now. Now, it's the big set up followed by a snappy one-liner you didn't expect. Then, MT and many others would tell a story with multiple endings, each funnier than the last. To wit: Twain's advice to an older woman to give up smoking and drinking and swearing to cure her lumbago. "But how can I" she said, "I don't do any of those things." To which Twain replied, "Well, there you are. She'd neglected her habits. She was a sinking ship with no cargo to throw overboard."
Each line gets a bigger laugh than the last. Only George Carlin and Tim Conway have used this style effectively since Twain.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Alan Kitty" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 1:54:28 PM
Subject: Re: Jay Leno
Perhaps the larger difference is that Twain wrote his own material. =
Listen to Jimmy Fallon, who never explained his jokes until he took over =
for the long-chin host. An entire staff of writers - not a Twain in the =
On Jun 18, 2014, at 2:39 PM, Denis Donovan wrote:
> Johnny Carson, who was as unlike Twain as you can get, nonetheless had =
> something in common with him that was absolutely not shared by either =
> Leno or Lederman. Like Twain, Carson never explained a joke or a =3D
> routine. Carson let his performance carry the meaning and shape the =3D
> experience just as Twain let his written or spoken performance shape =
> experience. Carson may have laughed enough during the process to fill =
> several studio audience recordings with every laugh he needed -- but =3D=
> Twain's enjoyment of his verbal and written performances clearly is =3D
> palpable in everything Twain ever wrote ... and really comes across in =
> the autobiography. Twain's piece on German sentence-building is as =3D
> hilarious as anything Carson ever did and much of both of their =
> carries high-powered socio-political-cultural commentary. And, as read =
> by Grover Gardner, had me laughing as hard as I ever laughed at =
> a laugh tinged with infinitely more respect.
> Just a thought.
> On Jun 18, 2014, at 1:42 PM, Scott Holmes wrote:
>> I don't know about the rest of you, on Twain-L, but I never thought =3D=
>> was particularly humorous.
> Denis M. Donovan, M.D., M.Ed., F.A.P.S.
> Director, EOCT Institute
> Medical Director, 1983 - 2006
> The Children's Center for Developmental Psychiatry
> St. Petersburg, Florida
> P.O Box 47576
> St. Petersburg, FL 33743-7576
> Phone: 727-641-8905
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