The Wit and Humor of America
Light hearted, entertaining and amusing as it takes on contemporary American life would best describe The Wit and Humor of America by Marshall Pinckney Wilder whish is a compilation of humorous passages from various works of American literature.
Ranging from Harriet Beecher Stowe's Dinah's Kitchen to Dislikes by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Little Orphint Annie by James Whitcomb Riley, The Auto Rubaiyat by Reginald Wright Kauffman, Garden Ethics by Charles Dudley Warner and Morris and the Honorable Tim by Myra Kelley and many more delightful pieces, the book is indeed a treasure trove of humor.
Marshall P. Wilder was a talented actor and humorist who entertained late nineteenth century New York with his funny sketches and monologues. Today he would probably be called a “stand-up comedian.” On a trip to London in 1883, Wilder's show was watched by the then Prince of Wales who later went on to become King Edward VII. The monarch was enchanted by the act and Wilder became an instant favorite of the English royal family. This was also the start of his international career. For the next few years, he toured the world with his show, which included a vaudeville act too.
Wilder's brand of humor was laced with pathos and optimism. He was the first celebrity who attained fame in spite of his disability. Wilder was born with achondroplasia or dwarfism and also kyphosis or curvature of the spine. However, his wit and humor allowed him to rise above his physical limitations and carve out a wonderful career for himself. He was gifted with boundless energy, humanism and always signed his letters, “Merrily Yours!” He became extremely wealthy, fell in love and married a beautiful woman with whom he had two children. He eventually died following the sudden death of his beloved wife two years earlier. Wilder also acted in twelve silent films between 1897 and 1912. Many of his shows were recorded on Edison cylinders which were a new invention at the time and this has ensured that we are able to enjoy Wilder's humor today.
The Wit and Humor of America contains poems, letters, articles, chapters from books, limericks, short sketches and plays. It was published in 1911. Some of the themes and jokes seem dated, and politically incorrect but the essential fun is undeniable and this book makes a nice read for the times when you have a couple of hours to spare.
Download mp3 files for each chapter for this book in one zip file.