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Tell Me About It: Mark Twain identity brings joy


August 25. 2013 6:08AM
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1. How did you get started impersonating Mark Twain?



Itís kind of a long story. Several years ago, probably 1997, I met up with a friend in the grocery store and he told me about trying out for being a Civil War re-enactor in Gettysburg, [Pa]. He told me they rented out a hotel wing, and I could stay there for half-price. It was really cheap so we went. When we got there, I was asked which side I wanted to do, and I told them my cousin Sam. He deserted both sides of the Civil War. I did my schtick and they told me I was in the group, but I didnít care. Ö A little while later my wife asked me if I was working that weekend. I said no. She told me we were going to a re-enactment. So we went and I thought, ďI hate this!Ē I just wanted to go fishing or swimming or anything. I came up with an inspiration that came from my daughter. The Boy Scouts there were badgering me, saying I looked like Albert Einstein, so this was where I decided to make my move. If figured if everyone thought Sam Clemens was the most obnoxious guy, they wonít have me again. Unfortunately, it backfired and I was the hit of the show. It started as a joke, really. Iíd been a building contractor for over 30 years. Now, I was going to get paid to goof off. So, I retired from my other things I did, and now I get paid to go on vacation.



2. So, are you related to Mark Twain?



That was the family lore, but the proof is a little more difficult. If it really is the case, itís something like a third cousin twice removed. The proof is difficult because you canít really get documentation. Itís a dubious connection and in the end it really doesnít matter.



3. How many appearances do you do in a week or a month?



Pretty much, itís mainly on weekends. I kind of keep my performances together ó the ones that are reoccurring shows. In August through September, Iím probably gone every weekend. Iím mainly busy in the spring and fall. In the winter, I do service groups and school stuff ó things like that.



4. How far do you travel to do your shows?



This year the furthest is Hillsboro, N.H. Iím doing some things up in Vermont, too. I mainly seem to go east and north, Iíve not really been out West yet.



5. What kinds of places do you perform at?



Service groups, schools, universities ó I do stage shows. I did a life of Ulysses Grant, which was like a gaslight theater and I had to write the script. This really has nothing to do with work. This job is a grown man playing.



6. Whatís the biggest challenge?



Probably the biggest challenge is to overcome misguided concepts people have. There was this horrible thing in 1999 that came out that ďHuckleberry FinnĒ was racist. That put a bad spin on things. "Huck Finn" is the first novel ever written to humanize a black man in the history of literature and it was deemed by some people as being racist. How does that work? That book was 40 years before its time. The writings of Clemens get into what human nature is, not what we want it to be.



7. Why do you do this?



Mainly, I do it because of the gratification in research and everything that goes along with it. It expands my horizons and keeps my brain growing and active. When Iím there, people laugh. To a degree I love it because I bring people joy. I donít think thereís enough laughter in the world.





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