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Online Course in ‘Comedy” by Trav SD.

Check out the Onlne Course in Comedy taught by Trav SD.

April is a crazy month for classic comedy anniversaries, including the birthdays of Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd and (this year) the centennial of the first comedy short directed by Buster Keaton (though not the first one he released). And numerous others, as well. Join me Monday, April 19 (7pm) for my zoom crash course on classic comedy, where we’ll be talking about these guys and many others, and what makes them unique, how they influenced each other, and everyone who came since! The talk will be available only to members of my Patreon family — go here to join so you can take part in all the Travalanche zoom talks, and other exclusive benefits, like my upcoming Podcast about Old Time Medicine Shows, coming up in early May. Come find out why the poet tell us “April is the Foolish Month”!

Check out Trav SD’s course in Comedy by signing up here!

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Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Chain of Fools”


Chain of Fools traces the art of slapstick comedy from its pre-cinema origins in the ancient pantomime through its silent movie heyday in the teens and twenties, then on to talkies, television, and the Internet. As in his first book, the critically acclaimed No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, author Trav S.D. mixes a wicked wit, a scholar’s curiosity, and a keen critical appreciation for laugh-makers through the ages, from classical clowns like Joseph Grimaldi to comedy kings like Mack Sennett, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton . . . to more recent figures, from Red Skelton, Sid Caesar and Ernie Kovacs to Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey and Steve Carell . . . all the way down to the teenagers on YouTube whose backyard antics bring us full circle to slapstick’s beginnings. This valentine to the great clowns contains enough insights and surprises to open the eyes of even life-long comedy fans.

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Silent Film Music Composer Ben Model has this to say about the book!

“I have read a lot of books on silent comedy in film. A lot of them. “Chain of Fools” is not like any of these books, and in a refreshing way. Trav S.D. manages to combine a personal journey through the work of the various luminaries of wordless comedy with the act of also laying them chronologically end-to-end, and manages to do so in an entertaining and humorous way. As he did in his book on Vaudeville, “No Applause, Just Throw Money: the Book that Made Vaudeville Famous”, Trav traces the arc of silent comedy back further than most film historians do in their books, and follows it further into the present as well. “Chain of Fools” is not just about silent comedy itself but its place in our culture and how it’s been a consistent part of it. It’s a fun read, and accessible to both novice and seasoned historian. I thoroughly enjoyed it. (And if you’re not aware of it already, do pick up Trav S.D.’s No Applause–Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous)”

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“When I first saw the cover of the book I smiled. This was not Chaplin and Eric Campbell from “Easy Street” or something, it was Author Trav S.D.’s little joke. The principles of the cover were Billy West and Oliver Hardy, THAT introduced me properly to this wonderful book of other film comedians, some famous, some obscure. This is not a reference book, it can be read for pure joy and the author adds his opinions to these characters making them come to life again. You may consider me a fan of Trav from his first book “No Applause Just Throw Money,” for this author brings the same amount of joy and authority to enrich reader’s knowledge of the legacies of the unknown or forgotten. This is pure prose from cover to cover and it could pass for a course study…only this tome is too entertaining for dry lecture. The author has contributed something special in “Chain of Fools,” (Bearmanor Media). This is a five-star rating.” – William Cassara

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The Illustrated History of Quick Change – A proposed book project

I began working on this book project in the early 1970’s..probably around 1973. I have a letter from famed magician/historian Jay Marshall dated 1978. I had inquired to see if he had any ‘quick change’ material I could use for my research.

Letter from Jay Marshall

I had basically given up on the project in late 1981 and put all my research in a box. Dishearted by the lack of awareness people had about this act. It seemed like I was one of maybe 50 people that knew what the ‘Quick Change‘ act was.

I just found this box of research in my storage unit! Almost 35 year later! It is massive! I worked on the book for quite a few years. Contacting libraries and archives all over the world to obtain photographs/letters/articles/reviews about these artists during their ‘heyday’ in the vaudeville times.

Palace Theater Program

Here is the program from The Palace Theater in May of 1913. The 6th act (F) on the program is quick change artist Owen McGiveney.

Notice the 4th act on the bill is W.C Fields. Quick change artist shared the bill with some outstanding performers in their time.

As you can see from this photograph my research didn’t only include quick change. Here is a photograph of the ‘future site of the Palace Theater‘.

img005“On This Site Will be Erected THE PALACE THEATRE”

One of the many quick-change artists that were performing in vaudeville was ‘The Great La Follette“.

The Great La Follette

I am posting a few items from my research. I am beginning work on a book.

Quick Change in American Vaudeville

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Here is an artist rendering of the great Proctor’s 23rd Street Theatre.

Proctor's 23rd Street Theatre

Proctor’s 23rd Street Theatre (previously located between 6th and 7th Avenue)

Here are a few of my previous Vaudevisual postings on Quick Change.

Michael McGiveney

Mr. Hymack – Quentin McPhearson

The Great Lafayette

Henri DeVries


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Here is a YouTube video made from film transfer of Owen McGiveney in 1928. 

Here is a YouTube video of his son Michael McGiveney doing his father’s act on the TV show “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1950.

(Michael used his father’s name with Jr. in the beginning of his ‘quick change’ career. More about that in my book!)

Here is a recent (Feb 2016) Ted talk in Pompeii by the wonderful Italian Quick Change artist Arturo Brachetti.

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The Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Gimme a Thrill” by Noah Diamond

I usually post ‘The Vaudevisuals Bookshelf’ once a week but this week is ‘Special’.

The publication of Noah Diamond’s new book “Gimme A Thrill“.

I will let you read the text on Amazon since I am a photographer mostly!

A BROADWAY LEGEND OF 1924 Includes more than eighty rare photographs, some published here for the first time. Before they made the films which are their principal legacy, the Marx Brothers were the stars of three Broadway musicals in the 1920s. Two of these, The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, are popular classics, familiar from the Brothers’ immortal film versions, and from numerous stage revivals. But the boys’ 1924 Broadway debut, I’ll Say She Is, was never filmed or revived, and it slipped through history’s fingers. Although it was the most successful thing the Marx Brothers ever did on stage, it was unseen for ninety years after the original production closed, and has been considered a lost work. In 2009, writer, performer, lyricist, and Groucho Marxist Noah Diamond began a seven-year odyssey which led to the restoration, adaptation, and finally the historic first revival of this legendary entry in the Marx and musical theatre canons. Gimme a Thrill tells the whole story for the first time—the complete history of I’ll Say She Is from 1923 to 2014. Noah Diamond adapted the book and lyrics for I’ll Say She Is and has a long history of playing Groucho, on and off the stage. He is among the organizers of Marxfest New York City’s Marx Brother’s festival and has written and lectured widely on the Marxes and their work. With his partner Amanda Sisk, he wrote and produced the Nero Fiddled musicals, a series of political satires. His previous books are 400 Years in Manhattan and Love Marches On.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.57.55 PM

I first met this very talented Mr. Diamond while shooting an episode of the wonderful series ‘Vaudephone‘ which I co-produced with Trav SD. Here is Noah performing for us “The United Nations Song” for that series.

So now you can see why you should buy this book! Noah is brilliant in whatever he puts his mind to. And by the way you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t see the show coming this year.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.41.54 PMClick here for more information on this show!

Here is Noah talking about the Marx Brothers and I’ll Say She Is during a Vaudevisuals interview.

OK! Go see the show when it opens and here is the information for you to buy his new book!

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100th Anniversary of The Palace Theatre -The Theatre Museum Excellence Awards @ The Players Club

100th Anniversary of The Palace Theatre in New York City. June 3rd, 2013

Palace Theatre 100th Anniversary

An evening of Awards of Excellence from The Theatre Museum and A Variety show like those presented at The Palace Theatre.

2013.06.03_PlayersClb_013An Award was given to Helen Marie Guditis for Distiguished Service to the Theatre. It was accepted by her brother Albert.

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Emerson College was given the Award for 'Theatre Arts Eduction".

Melia Bensusssen accepted the Theatre Arts Education Award for Emerson College.

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A Vaudeville Tribute to The Palace Theatre’s 100th Anniversary

Producer/Aufhor and Performer Trav SDTrav S.D. introduces the evening of festivities for the 100th Anniversary.

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Master of Ceremonies Todd Robbins tries to hypnotize the audience.Master of Ceremonies Todd Robbins tries to hypnotize the audience.

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Rope handler and whip cracker Chris McDaniel opened the show.Rope handler and whip cracker Chris McDaniel opened the show.

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Ariela Pizza performed a delightful song with some dancing.Ariela Pizza performed a delightful song with some dancing.

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Poor Baby Bree took us back in time with her  songs.Poor Baby Bree took us back in time with her  songs.

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Rod Kimball and Andy Sapora performed a wacky act together.Rod Kimball and Andy Sapora performed  together.

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Rebecca Joy Fletcher dancing with Theatre Museum Chairman Stuart F. Lane during her act.Rebecca Joy Fletcher dancing with Theatre Museum Chairman Stewart F. Lane during her act.

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2013.06.03_PlayersClb_259Ron Hutchinson introduced some video clips of the Vitaphone Project of vaudeville stars projected at the end of the evening.

The Theatre Museum Awards were produced by Alyssa Renzi

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Also at the evening’s festivities was Joe Franklin and Will Jordan. Both spoke about their days in show business.

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For more information on The Theatre Museum go here.

For more information on Trav S.D go here. (Producer of the Vaudeville show this night)

For more information on The Vitaphone Project go here.

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“Chain of Fools” – The new book by Trav S.D. – Book Launch at Dixon Place – Wed. April 10th at 7:30 – FREE!!!!

Trav S. D. new book 'Chain of Fools'

Please Join Trav S.D. for the FREE Chain of Fools Launch Event
Wednesday, April 10, 7:30-9:30 pm
in the Dixon Place Lounge
161A Chrystie Street
Film screening to be followed by a book signing and celebration!

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Lady Aye – A Little Bit of Sideshow – A Vaudephone Presentation

Vaudephone is a co-production of and the American Vaudeville Theatre/Travalanche

Recorded at Cornelia Street Cafe on Feb. 26th, 2013
For more information on Lady Aye visit her website here:

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Travesties of 2012 – A Vaudeville Extravaganza

For 16 performances Trav S.D. hosted the “TRAVESTIES OF 2012” .

Part of the NY Musical Theatre Festival which was being held at numerous venues across Manhattan.

The evening was great with wonderful acts. comedy, ensemble skits and general fun times for all.

Here are a few photographs from the last show on Sat.

(Some Acts were not photographed due to unforseen circumstances)

Trav S.D. hosts the show with a great big ‘vaudeville’ opening song and smile.

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AJ Silver performing rope ‘magic’ opens the show.

AJ Silver finishes his act with a roar of applause.

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Trav S.D. and  company offer lots of funny songs and dance.

Okies trying to sing and make music.

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Jenny Lee Mitchell sings up a storm and gets the audience into a hysterical laughter.

Jenny Lee Mitchell gets a little drowsy after a champagne.

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Dandy Darkly tells some amazingly horrifying tales!

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Meghan “Big Red” Murphy sings a “Passing Show” song.

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“The Crime of the Rhyme” performed by the ensemble.

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Audrey Crabtree and Billy Schultz perform their “No Reservations Needed” piece.

Things get out of hand on this ‘first date’ as Billy and Audrey get entangled.

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Sarah Malinda Engelke: Piano (banjo)

Dennis Buck: Piano for Jenny Lee Mitchell and Dandy Darkly

Isaiah Tanenbaum: Piano on “New York Town”.

Trav S.D: Guitar on “New York Town”

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For more information on TRAVESTIES OF 2012 click HERE!

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Vaudephone – with Shane Bertram Baker

One more Vaudephone with Shane Bertram Baker

Vaudephone is a co-production of and the American Vaudeville Theatre/Travalanche

Recorded at Dixon Place on December 13th, 2011.

To see more of the Vaudephone series:

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Carla Rhodes and Cecil Sinclair – A Vaudephone Presentation

Cecil Sinclair (l) and Carla Rhodes (r)

Vaudephone is a co-production of and the American Vaudeville Theatre/Travalanche

Recorded at Dixon Place on October 25th, 2011.

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