We long for a place where individuals can shine on the strength of their individuality. Where being far out is seen as a strength and not a handicap. For a world of magic and of elbow room, of freedom and nature and adventure: of horses, gypsy wagons, campfires, hoppable freight trains; long walks down dirt roads, of meeting a constant stream of strange, eccentric characters–“fellow travelers”–other ungovernable, perverse, and willful idealists for whom town life is simply too bleak. We need escape from our “shiny metal boxes,” from superhighways (where towns are passed through at eighty miles an hour and never savored, never cherished), from cages, cubicles, phones that ring no matter where we are, and jobs at “One Industrial Park Boulevard.”
This is why vaudeville will always triumph, for it is merely an expression of people’s longing for surprise, invention, joy, laughter, tears, transcendence. It is the theatrical embodiment of freedom, tolerance, opportunity, diversity, democracy, and optimism.
– Trav S.D., No Applause–Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous
This is a fantastic survey of the history of vaudeville. Exhaustive but not exhausting. A broad overview that dishes delectable details. Buy it and read it.