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No Applause--Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous Hardcover – October 27, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st edition (October 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571211925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571211920
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Much has been written about the American institution of vaudeville, but readers would be hard-pressed to find an account as humorous and sharp as writer and performer Trav S.D.'s tasty chronicle. Although critics in the early 20th century lambasted vaudeville as crude, sometimes clever, but generally "trite and empty," the author points out that from 1881 to 1932, vaudeville "was the heart of American show business," so ubiquitous that "if you were beyond the reach of vaudeville, then you were really in the sticks." He comments on the artistic and commercial ties between vaudeville and Hollywood's glamour industry and Broadway; they often shared performers in hit plays and films (though Trav S.D. also reveals how essential managers were to the medium, since "performers, as Jesus said of the poor, are always with us"). There are candid moments about the resistance to hiring black players in a few fascinating segments about minstrelsy and blackface, as Trav S.D. writes of the trials African-American legend Bert Williams endured. Throughout, the author, a humorist, never forgets to get his laugh quota, whether he's talking about audiences (Midwestern crowds were tough: "Do they like me? Hate me? Are they alive? Hello?") or burlesque ("a sort of bush league for broad comedians"). The result is a well-researched, riotous book about a cultural mainstay, "the theatrical embodiment of freedom, tolerance, opportunity, diversity, democracy, and optimism." B&w illus. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Late in the nineteenth century, America's variety theatre—which was notorious for the brawling, drinking, thieving, gambling, stripping, whoring, and cursing that went with it—was supplanted by the comparatively clean-cut vaudeville. "Don't say 'slob' or 'son of a gun' or 'Holy Gee' on the stage unless you want to be canceled peremptorily," one manager's memo read. Trav S.D., himself a performer, describes with infectious relish such acts as a banjo-playing Shakespeare reciter, a one-legged tap dancer, a man who wrote backward, a comic lecturer on human anatomy, a drag trapeze artist, and "The Vagges—World Champion Bag Punchers." Vaudeville withstood critics from Hitler to Henry Ford, along with innumerable tough crowds (Yale students were reportedly among the worst), to become a big business with a lasting impact; Bob Hope, George Burns, Fred Astaire, Buster Keaton, and the Marx Brothers all got their start there.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

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After reading this book, one is inspired to look up some of the old acts on the internet.
Battleship
Now having read it from cover to cover I strongly urge anyone who is even remotely interested in this subject to get themselves a copy of this book.
Paul Tognetti
Like the History Channel on TV -- Trav S. D. certainly brings the history of vaudeville to life in this book!!
DixonSteele1on1

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Frank Cullen on December 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"No Applause-Just Throw Money, or the Book That Made Vaudeville Famous" is as sassy as its title. As bold a writer as he is performer, Trav S.D.'s book is all the better for it. Critics have commented that it is amusing-and it is-very, but it also affords, within its 300 plus pages, a solid survey of vaudeville history from its roots through several stages of growth to its blossoming and institutional decline.

One of the book's greater strengths is the cultural context Trav S.D. provides without losing his story in academic meanderings. The marrying of high and low purpose in this book reflects vaudeville's eclectic (some might say indiscriminate) embrace of art forms, a formula that made it the most popular mass entertainment of its day--fit for both toffs and toughs--ladies and children invited.

One can quibble about several particulars-this is true of every book written about vaudeville, but Trav S.D. has captured the shape, size and feel of vaudeville by examining it as a business as well as an entertainment form peopled by beloved performers.

Trav S.D. is producer/performer with American Vaudeville Theatre and a writer whose work has appeared in various periodicals including The Village Voice, American Theatre, Time Out New York, and Reason.

Frank Cullen, merican Vaudeville M useum, "fcullen'
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By T. Berner on June 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In the last five years, three unrelated books, the subject book, together with Seriously Funny by Gerard Nachman and Comedy at the Edge by Richard Zoglin, have been published which, together, comprise the history of American comedy since the American Civil War. All of them have their merits, but No Applause - Just Throw Money (NAJTM) is the best of them.

It is not just that vaudeville is broader than comedy alone and the vaudeville era was a lot more interesting in show business history than the periods that followed it. The other virtue to NAJTM is that, while the other books try to capture an age by induction - focusing on the lives of a handful of performers and drawing universal conclusions - NAJTM discusses the era and illustrates the author's points with references to individual performers. The result is that the uniqueness of each act, its independence and individuality is honored.

And unique and independent and individualistic they were! What a wonderful collection of oddballs, tyrants and crackpots and what a talented, original and creative bunch as well. As one surveys modern entertainment - the intellectual wasteland that comprises theater, television and, especially, American cinema today, one longs to slip into the Palace for just one day to see this bunch walk the boards one more time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Graceann Macleod on March 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The whole book is informative and very, very funny, with the first third concentrating on the ancient history of vaudeville and its beginnings, the middle third concentrating on its heyday, and the final chapters dedicated to its decline. However, the text does contain some glaring errors with regard to Buster Keaton's life and abilities (probably owing to the author's unfortunate use of Marion Meade's atrocious "Cut to the Chase" as a resource). For the record, Buster Keaton was neither functionally illiterate nor abused. The final chapters are bogged down a bit with the author's own philosophy as to what is needed in vaudeville, rather than a straight telling of what has happened to it in the last 40 or 50 years. This is a shame, because the first two thirds of the book are uproariously funny and page-turningly readable, and I would have like to have seen this continue through to the conclusion. Even the acknowledgements are entertaining - not always the case.
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Format: Hardcover
Several weeks ago I read a notice in our local newspaper that an author calling himself Trav S.D.would be appearing at a locally owned and operated bookstore to promote his brand new book about the history of vaudeville "No Applause--Just Throw Money". A little more than a year ago I had read Lawrence J. Epstein's superb book "Mixed Nuts: America's Love Affair With Comedy Teams from Burns and Allen to Belushi and Akroyd" and I enjoyed it tremendously. It left me wanting to learn all I that I could about the storied history of what we refer to as "vaudeville". I was all set to go to the book signing when I learned that the time had been changed. I was out of luck. Fortunately, I spotted the book the other day at my local library. I spent virtually the entire weekend reading it. This was a book I simply could not put down.

I found "No Applause--Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous" to be treasure trove of information. Trav S.D.(aka Travis Stewart) has been the head of the American Vaudeville Theater in New York City for nearly a decade now. He is also a very accomplished writer which is quite evident in this book. Trav S.D. introduces us to the legendary performers of the vaudeville circuit. We have all heard of the Marx Brothers, Burns and Allen, W.C. Fields and Buster Keaton, but I really appreciated learning about so many of the acts I had never even heard of before. It was also interesting to learn about the men who would emerge as the moguls of vaudeville. Tony Pastor is generally credited with having much to do with putting "vaudeville" on the map. His seemingly revolutionary insistance on variety shows that offered "fun without vulgarity" would prove to be a winning formula for five decades.
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