Twain actually wrote instructions on how to elicit laughter from silence and the psychology that drives it.
Anyone interested in the subject might also find a useful reference in Piddington’s “The Psychology of Laughter” (Gamut Press 1963).
The first time I used the methods which Twain described and Holbrook has mastered was a leap of faith. But it works every time.
On Apr 13, 2015, at 12:16 PM, Hal Bush <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Folks, in the spirit of the many reviews of Twain performance gracing our
> list recently--
> A brief review of MT Tonight, @ UMSL in St. Louis on Saturday April 11:
> The show was spectacular. I've actually never seen any one-person show,
> and until Saturday had never seen Hal Holbrook's performance of MT
> To cut to the chase: it was spellbinding; and the talent to pull that off
> is really off the charts. Imagine doing that at 90!! I hope you will all
> recognize my gratitude and compliments to Hal. It was very cool hearing
> many famous passages delivered from a walking and talking near-version of
> In particular I was mesmerized by Hal's use of the moments of silence --
> including the Jim Blaine tale when the actor pretends to fall asleep. The
> way he takes on the character fully is really quite a spectacle. The
> audience seems uncertain what exactly is happening. There is much laughter
> as confused observers squirm in their seats. The dramatization of Huck
> Finn (the feud scenes with Grangerfords & Shepherdsons) was quite long but
> extremely powerful.
> All in all, I suspect I will remember the performance for a very long time,
> and I am grateful I made the time and arrangements to see it. Highly
> Prof. Harold K. Bush
> Professor of English
> 3800 Lindell
> Saint Louis University
> St. Louis, MO 63108
> 314-977-3616 (w); 314-771-6795 (h)
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