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The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts > Vaudeville Nation

Stand-up comics

In the 1910s, some comedian/vocalists dropped characterizations for part or all of their acts and appeared as "themselves."   Some, like Eddie Cantor, began by adding monologues within songs, before developing full stand-up routines.  W. C. Fields and Will Rodgers, his contemporaries in vaudeville, the Ziegfeld Follies, and radio, maintained their original schtiks, respectively prestidigitation and rope spinning tricks during their monologues. Their routines combined political commentary with social satire.  Prohibition gave monologuists a wealth of material since the comics and most of the audience knew the verbal codes of acquiring drinks.



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