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"Lee, Judith" <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 6 Nov 2012 10:11:26 -0500
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Friends, I'm sorry to be late chiming in here.  I have thought for quite awhile about the question of how Mark Twain's humor relates to the recipients of the Kennedy Center's award and have concluded that the award aims mainly to promote the institution as not so elite as its orchestral and other programming might suggest, and thus its winners are primarily known for humor that reaches a wide public.  The particularities of Mark Twain's humor are quite tangential to the winners' comic styles; the point is mainly that Mark Twain is an embodiment of humor, a symbol of the American comic spirit, and these folks are American comic performers.  (Remember that the institution's full name is the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.) So no offense to any of the winners, many of whom I admire, but their relation to Mark Twain in any specific way is beside the point, I think.


On Oct 31, 2012, at 11:09 PM, Ben Wise wrote:

Thanks, Terry, for saying all that, and for seconding Garrison Keillor, who has always seemed to me to be the only obvious candidate, for so many substantial reasons. But the last time I mentioned it in this list, I got some severe rebukes (like that listening to him is like watching paint dry!) I really can't understand why he is so underappreciated, especially among Twainiacs, of all people! So I restrained myself from entering the fray this time. Thanks for running interference (I kind of thought you might when I saw your post!).


----- Original Message -----
From: "Terry Ballard" <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 9:53:57 PM
Subject: Re: The 15th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is . . . . .

Put all of the winners in a single room and you wouldn't have a down
payment on Twain's wit and sheer satircal power. To paraphrase the master,
"It's the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." I'm solidly
with Harold on this one. It's a crime that it never went to Vonnegut. It
could still go to Garrison Keillor, but it won't. And so it goes.

On Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 8:12 PM, Harold Bush <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:

Ellen DeGeneres. really? ? ? ?

Wow. All due respect, but I'm wondering what some older folks like Carol
Burnett must be feeling right about now. Surprising choice, given folks
like Letterman and Leno, or even Jon Stewart, have not gotten it yet....

Political correctness aside, I'm a bit confused about all this.... who, if
anyone in the "Twain scholarly community," are they consulting?? I DVR-ed
the event, and it is funny; but Wow!

I recognize they are going for the ratings. But I thought -- originally,
with the awarding of the likes of Jonathan Winters and Carl Reiner, Bob
Newhart and Lily Tomlin -- that it was meant to be some sort of lifetime
achievement award. And the picture of the white-suit Twain on the website
seems to confirm this, along with the description of the award.

But I feel bad for the likes of Carol Burnett, or even David Letterman, who
reinvented the talk-show format.

Every year we hash this out a bit -- and maybe I'll get slammed for this
jeremiad -- but I just thought I would bring it up again and see if others
had any response.


Harold K. Bush, Ph.D
Professor of English
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO 63108
314-977-3616 (w); 314-771-6795 (h)


Terry Ballard
Author and Leisure Studies Manager
Author of the book "Google this"

"My memory has a mind of its own."

Judith Yaross Lee, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of Honors Tutorial Studies
Chair, Faculty Senate Finance & Facilities Committee
School of Communication Studies
Lasher Hall 113
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701

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