The teller is innocent and happy and pleased with himself, and has to stop every little while to hold himself in and keep from laughing outright; and does hold in, but his body quakes in a jelly-like way with interior chuckles; and at the end of the ten minutes the audience have laughed until they are exhausted, and the tears are running down their faces. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Some Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls, Mark Twain's (Burlesque) Autobiography and First Romance, A True Story and the Recent Carnival of Crime, Punch, Brothers, Punch! The essays contained include How to Tell a Story, The Wounded Soldier, The Golden Arm, Mental Telegraphy Again, and The Invalid's Story. THE INVALID’S STORY . Read the next short story; Hunting The Deceitful Turkey. All of which is very depressing, and makes one want to renounce joking and lead a better life. Let me set down an instance of the comic method, using an anecdote which has been popular all over the world for twelve or fifteen hundred years. In no long time he was hailed by an officer, who said: "His leg, forsooth?" I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. ), En he begin to shiver en shake, en say, "Oh, my! He tells it in the character of a dull-witted old farmer who has just heard it for the first time, thinks it is unspeakably funny, and is trying to repeat it to a neighbor. Another feature is the slurring of the point. The Humorous Story an American Development.--Its Difference from Comic and Witty Stories. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett, Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe. A Horse's Tale. ), Den de voice say, RIGHT AT HIS YEAR--"W-h-o--g-o-t--m-y g-o-l-d-e-n ARM?" If you've got the PAUSE right, she'll fetch a dear little yelp and spring right out of her shoes. He wuz pow'ful mean--pow'ful; en dat night he couldn't sleep, caze he want dat golden arm so bad. THE GOLDEN ARM. I decided to try writing a Mark Twain “inspired” story that could be delivered in the same style used by Twain. For instance, he would say eagerly, excitedly, "I once knew a man in New Zealand who hadn't a tooth in his head"--here his animation would die out; a silent, reflective pause would follow, then he would say dreamily, and as if to himself, "and yet that man could beat a drum better than any man I ever saw.". Then the listener must be alert, for in many cases the teller will divert attention from that nub by dropping it in a carefully casual and indifferent way, with the pretense that he does not know it is a nub. Den he hear de latch, en he KNOW it's in de room! OH, my lan'!" The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst. (Pause. Impersonators often add lines at the end of his stories to make them more appealing to the modern audience. In them, he describes his own writing style, attacks the idiocy of a fellow author, defends the virtue of a dead woman, and tries to protect ordinary citizens from insults by railroad conductors. I will talk mainly about that one. Put into the humorous-story form it takes ten minutes, and is about the funniest thing I have ever listened to--as James Whitcomb Riley tells it. THE WOUNDED SOLDIER. It is a dainty thing, and delicate, and also uncertain and treacherous; for it must be exactly the right length--no more and no less--or it fails of its purpose and makes trouble. Whereupon the soldier dispossessed himself of his burden, and stood looking down upon it in great perplexity. He would begin to tell with great animation something which he seemed to think was wonderful; then lose confidence, and after an apparently absent-minded pause add an incongruous remark in a soliloquizing way; and that was the remark intended to explode the mine--and it did. (Pause.) ", En he listen--en listen--en de win' say (set your teeth together and imitate the wailing and wheezing singsong of the wind), "Bzzz-z-zzz"--en den, way back yonder whah de grave is, he hear a VOICE!--he hear a voice all mix' up in de win'--can't hardly tell 'em 'part--"Bzzz--zzz--W-h-o--g-o-t--m-y--g-o-l-d-e-n ARM?" This story was called "The Golden Arm," and was told in this fashion. en de win' blow de lantern out, en de snow en sleet blow in his face en mos' choke him, en he start a-plowin' knee-deep toward home mos' dead, he so sk'yerd--en pooty soon he hear de voice agin, en (pause) it 'us comin AFTER him! The Humorous Story an American Development.--Its Difference from Comic and Witty Stories. Den --he know it's a-BENDIN' DOWN OVER HIM--en he cain't skasely git his breath! You can practice with it yourself--and mind you look out for the pause and get it right. In them, he describes his own writing style, attacks the idiocy of a fellow author, defends the virtue of a dead woman, and tries to protect ordinary citizens from insults by railroad conductors. Den all on a sudden he stop (make a considerable pause here, and look startled, and take a listening attitude) en say: "My LAN', what's dat? Very often, of course, the rambling and disjointed humorous story finishes with a nub, point, snapper, or whatever you like to call it. Create a library and add your favorite stories. But he can't remember it; so he gets all mixed up and wanders helplessly round and round, putting in tedious details that don't belong in the tale and only retard it; taking them out conscientiously and putting in others that are just as useless; making minor mistakes now and then and stopping to correct them and explain how he came to make them; remembering things which he forgot to put in in their proper place and going back to put them in there; stopping his narrative a good while in order to try to recall the name of the soldier that was hurt, and finally remembering that the soldier's name was not mentioned, and remarking placidly that the name is of no real importance, anyway --better, of course, if one knew it, but not essential, after all --and so on, and so on, and so on. The teller tells it in this way: In the course of a certain battle a soldier whose leg had been shot off appealed to another soldier who was hurrying by to carry him to the rear, informing him at the same time of the loss which he had sustained; whereupon the generous son of Mars, shouldering the unfortunate, proceeded to carry out his desire. The art of telling a humorous story--understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print --was created in America, and has remained at home. It takes only a minute and a half to tell that in its comic-story form; and isn't worth the telling, after all. Five pieces by Mark Twain on the art of telling a story, with some examples. En bimeby she died, en he tuck en toted her way out dah in de prairie en buried her. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told, for I have been almost daily in the company of the most expert story-tellers for many years. A Double Barrelled Detective Story. by Mark Twain. I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. Den--den--he seem to feel someth'n' C-O-L-D, right down 'most agin his head! Here the narrator bursts into explosion after explosion of thunderous horse-laughter, repeating that nub from time to time through his gasping and shriekings and suffocatings. At length he said: "It is true, sir, just as you have said."