|Hal Holbrook||Mark Twain|
Hal Holbrook totally inhabits the icon of 19th Century Americana in a way no one else could. From what I read in the liner notes he inhabits the character so completely after performing this one-man show so many years, he has learned how to improvise some sections. He does his impersonation so well you forget it's an actor in a performance rather than listening to the fanciful ramblings of the actual Dr. Clemens of Hannibal, MO in the flesh. He made me laugh without really saying something of consequence. He just had silly understated mannerisms. There would be no David Letterman or Jay Leno without Mark Twain laying the groundwork. Everyone wanted to know what Mark Twain's opinion was on almost any issue of his day. Even people who tended to disagree with his point of view still valued his opinion. America's court jester reminded Victorian Era Americans not to take themselves too seriously. He was a self-made man and found a profession quite well suited to him that did not exist until he created it for himself, mostly out of his lack of proficiency at anything else. I hope there are other copies of Hal Holbrook's ad libbed performances and I could purchase other routines not recorded on this live prime-time special on CBS. The act has evolved over the years and I doubt any other thespian could match his authenticity. Dry wit, subtle, thought-provoking, hilarious, & even though there is that classic Mark Twain disdain for convention, he does so without using any blue material. He pushed envelope other ways. A national treasure to behold!