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Although Twain survived, thrived, and made a living out of humor, his humor was borne out of sorrow, a complicated view of life, an understanding of life’s contradictions, cruelties, and absurdities.As he once said, “ Mark Twain’s style of humor was wry, pointed, memorable, and delivered in a slow drawl.
Known for his sharp wit and pithy commentary on society, politics, and the human condition, his many essays and novels, including the American classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are a testament to his intelligence and insight.
Using humor and satire to soften the edges of his keen observations and critiques, he revealed in his writing some of the injustices and absurdities of society and human existence, his own included.
The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst.
The humorous story is strictly a work of art, — high and delicate art, — and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it.
He learned to create humor out of confusion and absurdity, bringing laughter into the lives of others as well.
He once said, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Twain was much admired during his lifetime and recognized as an American icon.Now the two satirists share a further connection.” One can only wonder what remarks Mark Twain would make today about our government, ourselves, and the absurdities of our world.But undoubtedly they would be insightful and humorous to help us “stand against the assault” and perhaps even give us pause.From there he received other jobs, sent to Hawaii, and then to Europe and the Holy Land as a travel writer.Out of these travels he wrote the book, The Innocents Abroad When he married Olivia Langdon in 1870, he married into a wealthy family from Elmira, New York and moved east to Buffalo, NY and then to Hartford, CT where he collaborated with the Hartford Courant Publisher to co-write a satirical novel about greed and corruption among the wealthy after the Civil War.Twain’s humor carried on the tradition of humor of the Southwest, consisting of tall tales, myths, and frontier sketches, informed by his experiences growing up in Hannibal, MO, as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, and as a gold miner and journalist in Nevada and California.In 1863 Mark Twain attended in Nevada the lecture of Artemus Ward (pseudonym of Charles Farrar Browne,1834-1867), one of America’s best-known humorists of the 19th century.A prize created in his honor, The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the nation’s top comedy honor, has been given annually since 1998 to “people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain.” Previous recipients of the prize have included some of the most notable humorists of our time.The 2017 prizewinner is David Letterman, who according to Dave Itzkoff, New York Times writer, “Like Mark Twain …distinguished himself as a cockeyed, deadpan observer of American behavior and, later in life, for his prodigious and distinctive facial hair.Clemens, a gentleman whose high character and unimpeachable integrity are only equalled by his comeliness of person and grace of manner. I was obliged to excuse the chairman from introducing me, because he never compliments anybody and I knew I could do it just as well.”“I am a border-ruffian from the State of Missouri. In me, you have Missouri morals, Connecticut culture; this, gentlemen, is the combination which makes the perfect man.” Growing up in Hannibal, Missouri had a lasting influence on Twain, and working as a steamboat captain for several years before the Civil War was one of his greatest pleasures.While riding the steamboat he would observe the many passengers, learning much about their character and affect.