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Now some people think ignorance has got to be funny. That's not true. Sometimes it's wolves and there's nobody in this creation who knows it any better than me. So with all of the music starts I want to say that the following story is perfectly true. Not very funny. And to do the modesty and seriousness of a man who everybody expects to be funny at all possible time. The one and only Mark Twain. I am Mark Twain and I feel the need of a cigar. Excuse me I have to find its own way. The Iowa School of the air presents Why is a right. Why is a writer is produced by Radio Station WSU why under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational
broadcasters. Today's program behind the humorous. To have the music die away. What I have to say well it's not easy for a jackass to say he's a jackass here and it's not easy to say. And of course only a fool would admit to being a jackass. I will not talk about myself very much except to tell a story which I promise to tell about myself. Which in this case happens to be about a jackass. It's not a funny story. I don't expect to laugh. I didn't because it cost me one hundred and ninety thousand dollars to tell a story in 1880. It was a lot of money.
$2000 then with the Clintons and it is on investment. I will send you my check. I'm investing too you know night good night. 2000 for what. Levy why didn't you come and help talk. Oh I thought not to meddle in business do you. That was her name for me. You nonce him the way I was born on my good name I took for writing. Just you. Because I was young. And when I was young and some ppl want to do thousand was scheme I gave it to him. You see my I had it my I was always interested in some fool invention. Well what do you think Mr. Clemens. It's more than I expected to find a
machine that does the work of foreman printer but it's not perfect perfect. What do you want. It's a purse time I've put my money in something that works. Mr. PAGE I congratulate you all know it works but that's not the way I want it to work. It will make us rich. I'll print my books and then you are interesting and you've got my track and I can't tell you how much. Well it didn't take so much. Not at heart. You're a genius Mr. Page. Any printer in the country will tell you the same thing. When does it go in the market. And mind you I was not green behind the years this was a machine paid you was a genius. I was lucky to become a millionaire. Every newspaper in the country would want one
at least one. At least one. So I put in three thousand more. Is this man honest believe me. He's us all spoken clear eyed gentleman. The machine's perfect now does sound unusual. Oh it's nothing more than we deserve I suppose. I figure I'm a you in this you know you don't try your eggs before they're laid Levy are you expressing doubt in my judgment you. I do like your writing but you never have been much for business. Mr. PAGE I would be a blow if you would come to dinner. I accept Mr. Klein. Was quite woozy and showed my books were selling America
like to me as well as I ever lived myself. And my one ambition which was not to be such a jackass so often was strangely enough coming through my mind was clear and what a man's mind is clear. If he has a slightest talent he ought to be able to be fully once every so often. And knowing this is my plan to be funny in the evenings when I was paid to look after him before I was whether or. Not you paid. I must admit to you that I never thought of that inventor. Well I understand Mrs. Clemens It surprises me sometimes but when I work with those parts they come alive. Do you realize how perfect a machine can be. I'm afraid Levy doesn't think about any machine but me. Now you really perfect peace for peace. You know what's possible and I'm sure it is. We will corner the market. Well there's time for that after we perfect it. But I thought it worked no
less works but is it perfected. There is a difference. I hadn't thought about it but I suppose. There was a difference. Money. Lots of money. Pretty soon I was invited to ship with Paige. His machine and my money on clothes. I thought that was all right. Money wasn't to his guys. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was selling pretty good. No it meant scrimping a little on some things maybe couldn't entertain the way she wanted to but Jones does soon as that machine was put on the market. We were going to be rich anyway. Very rich. What you said I just happened
here. What are you doing in Boston. No I was just passing through until I saw the billboard with your name. So I thought I'd treat myself to a good laugh. Laugh. Why. Every word of that was true. Well uncle then I'll have to admit it was the funniest evening of truth I ever did see. Only it wasn't long enough and couldn't have been any longer what the audience liked it. They rolled in the aisles. Come on back to the dressing room Sam. Oh and they write it all right in here. If there's one thing learned in this hall it's when to stop talking. They would have laughed all night and they would have laughed until exactly ten minutes of nine and I say exactly because at 9 o'clock the last train leaves with the suburbs no matter who is speaking. However the people would get up at ten minutes of nine to catch that train. I've seen it happen to some speak you
hadn't been told about it and he thought they didn't like him. It's not funny it strikes terror in my heart I think of it. Well what happened to him after that. I think he starved to death. Well why don't we go out to supper. Well that songs by. Sure just as soon as I get this grease collar button through the places post here. Yeah and how's that living in their buttonholes invisible. She's all right. My kids are fine too. And Sam mellow still a second. Oh my I thought you'd be in Elmira. Oh it's too big for the buttonhole pose yet. Never mind who had it go Sam. I can hold it together with a tie. Yes I would have. Only I need money. Did the writing business give out my boy. I'm afraid you do not understand. You see I have the privilege of Anansi know what will undoubtedly
be the biggest machine success of this century. No no no I'm not joking. Well what kind of machine typesetting machine does the job for men. It works like a dream and as soon as it's perfected. Well just wait until it's perfected. Five years he was in the machine isn't done. Do you think it ever will be. Mr Page told me your partner Mr. Quinn and I represent the Morgan dollar typesetting machine which is not as good as ours. Thank you for coming but page already mentioned your off your stock or have cars. Now I don't think that's a very good bet. Yeah I remember that mag mainly I
suppose because Paige and I decided not to accept that offer. We had our own machine and it would be perfect. At which time we'd corner the market and just a little more time little money. Only money was a little scarce but my family understood Susie and because we'd agreed we'd stand a little to see that that machine finished and I'd been feeding it money for eight years. Went up to 6000 EMS an hour and not any mistakes. That's great Jane. So then it's ready. Well I suppose it works alright but but it really ought to be precision precision much how much precision Well that's hard to say for Leon how much money. Oh not. Mom why I thought if we could have Pratt and Whitney build a new model for us that those years over all those braids we've been oiling that machine with all of
everything I've written in the last three years has gone into paying for that Frankenstein we all agree that's right we could put it on the market now but what would that mean. Just another machine. Oh maybe better than American dollars but not better not perfect. Yet in 90 short doesn't sound so wrong. Or maybe we put off being millionaires as long to put together. I suppose it's been proved that there is no food. Like a fool who's trying to get rich. We had our ups and downs page in a kids in maybe but we always believe we'd win in the end. I guess we didn't know how smart that machine was. It's done Mark and The Herald has agreed to test it out if they like it we're in.
Why me when you get there and find out what they think about it. And there it is my hundred and ninety thousand dollars story. It did not in happening. The machine was so prolific that it refused to run for the slightest reason. And we discovered that it took a genius to fix it. The bourbon which was now perfect made our million. I don't know what the model is but I'm sure this isn't. Half funny story. Heard in today's program or Don McCaffrey Rose Stribling and Don call this sound is where our studio engineers. Why is a writer is written by Floyd Horowitz and directed by. This is Dick speaking. This has been another program in the series why is a
writer produced by school of the air under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the Radio Network.
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Why is a writer?
Behind the humorist
Producing Organization
University of Iowa
WSUI 910 AM (Radio station : Iowa City, Iowa)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-w08wfv9w).
Episode Description
Behind the Humorist, about the story of Mark Twain's double role in life: as writer and on a personal level.
Series Description
Produced by the Iowa School of the Air, this series focuses on various works of literature from Shakespeare to Twain.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Actor: Stribling, Don
Actor: Taylor, Rosemary
Actor: McCaffrey, Don
Announcer: Setterberg, Dick
Director: Walcoff, Larry
Producing Organization: University of Iowa
Producing Organization: WSUI 910 AM (Radio station : Iowa City, Iowa)
Sound: Siberry, Mary Kay
Writer: Horowitz, Floyd
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: S60-6-23 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:30?
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Chicago: “Why is a writer?; Behind the humorist,” 1961-03-17, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 27, 2024,
MLA: “Why is a writer?; Behind the humorist.” 1961-03-17. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 27, 2024. <>.
APA: Why is a writer?; Behind the humorist. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from