Hal Holbrook in “Mark Twain Tonight!”

Comedy week here at the blog: on Tuesday I pointed the way to a fine speech by Ben Tarnoff on Mark Twain, vulgarity, and the 21st century; yesterday I enjoyed a recent interview with veteran Monty Python comedian and satirist John Cleese.

Speaking of Twain, I leave you this week with news that Hal Holbrook, who has been performing his one-man show Mark Twain Tonight! since 1959, is retiring the show after touring with it for 58 of his own 92 years. I never saw the show live (there is a recording of a 1967 performance available at, and I’m sorry I didn’t. Holbrook is a highly-respected actor, of course, but also something of a Twain scholar-at-large, and he kept Twain’s writing in the public eye for more than half a century. Fellow Twain scholar Shelley Fisher Fishkin wrote this appreciation of Holbrook for the Center for Mark Twain Studies, and below is a short excerpt from that 1967 performance. See you next week.