More than Funny Business
This chapter describes how celebrity had already branded Mark Twain as the embodiment of “American Humour” when Samuel Clemens first visited England in 1872. Some fifteen years later, Clemens capitalized on his international fame in a global tour of live performances to convert his travel experiences into a new book, Following the Equator. His practice of trading on his Americanness for profit at home and abroad led Amy Kaplan to complain, “His famous ‘homespun’ qualities were...woven from the tangled threads of imperial travel.” Samuel Clemens reversed the imperial relations that gave American humor its distinctive postcolonial inflections by exporting American language and his comic sensibility through commerce.
Keywords: celebrity, Samuel Clemens, Americanness, Amy Kaplan, imperial travel, postcolonial inflections, commerce