Writing for Vaudeville eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 543 pages of information about Writing for Vaudeville.


The discussion of the monologue form has been exhaustive, for the pure monologue holds within itself all the elements of the other allied forms.  The only difference between a pure monologue and any other kind is in the addition of entertainment features that are not connected gags and points.  Therefore, to cover the field completely it is necessary only to name a few of the many different kinds of single talking acts and to describe them briefly.

The most common talking singles—­all of whom buy material from vaudeville writers—­are: 

(a) The Talking Magician—­who may have only a few little tricks to present, but who plays them up big because he sprinkles his work with laughter-provoking points.

(b) The “Nut Comedian"—­who does all manner of silly tricks to make his audience laugh, but who has a carefully prepared routine of “nut” material.

(c) The Parody Monologist—­who opens and closes with funny parodies on the latest song hits and does a monologue routine between songs.

(d) The “Original Talk" Impersonator—­who does impersonations of celebrities, but adds to his offering a few clever points and gags.


Before you seek a market [1] for your monologue, be sure that it fulfills all the requirements of a monologue and that it is the very best work you can do.  Above all, make sure that every gag or point you use is original with you, and that the angle of the subject you have selected for your theme is honestly your own.  For if you have copied even one gag or point that has been used before, you have laid your work open to suspicion and yourself to the epithet of “chooser.”

[1] See Chapter XXIV, Manuscripts and Markets.

The infringer—­who steals gags and points bodily—­can be pursued and punished under the copyright law, but the chooser is a kind of sneak thief who works gags and points around to escape taking criminal chances, making his material just enough different to evade the law.  A chooser damages the originator of the material without himself getting very far.  No one likes a chooser; no one knowingly will have dealings with a chooser.  Call a vaudeville man a liar and he may laugh at you—­call him a chooser and you’ll have to fight him.

There are, of course, deliberate choosers in the vaudeville business, just as there are “crooks” in every line of life, but they never make more than a momentary success.  Here is why they invariably fail: 

When you sit in the audience, and hear an old gag or point, you whisper, “Phew, that’s old,” or you give your companion a knowing look, don’t you?  Well, half the audience is doing the very same thing, and they, like you, receive the impression that all the gags are old, and merely suppose that they haven’t heard the other ones before.

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Writing for Vaudeville from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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