Visual comedy, because it lacked language, couldn’t be personally nasty or insulting. Astonishing and surprising stunts simply made people laugh. As a result, when stunts and rough-house weren’t funny, nobody felt insulted. The use of language brought puns and put-downs.
The comedians of the past began their careers before live audiences. Many were versatile and often could sing and dance as well as tell jokes and stories. Sometime they played musical instruments. They connected to people: their personal characters were on display and didn’t change. Audiences felt they knew these people, as if they were neighbors or relatives.
Who needs fancy pens when nobody writes letters? The old companies- Parker, Waterman, Cross- don’t exist any longer. Their brand names now belong to foreign firms that manufacture mostly in China. We communicate through smart phones and the internet.
The old dictatorships could manipulate radio, movie and print communication. If they didn’t like a newspaper, they sent thugs to destroy the printing presses. They could forcibly take over radio stations and stop the showing of movies they didn’t like. When everyone is a communicator, the dictator has a harder time monopolizing thought and communication.
During the Golden Age of Piracy (the early eighteenth century) royal governors treated pirates as criminals, even though no established law of the seas existed. Pirates operated outside the law, and brought prosperity, and even chocolate.
My latest book, Washington’s Shadow, is based on the personal correspondence of Leven Powell with his family and about his work for George Washington . It’s a story of Powell’s children and the first wave of western expansion. Washington’s presence permeates their decisions.
But adults don’t come to Jamestown simply to entertain the children. When they enter the museum they ask questions. They want to know where they fit into the mosaic that makes up American history.
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