Tahoe Pine Nuts: What might Mark Twain say?

The question I get asked the most, as an impressionist of Mark Twain, is, “How is Mark Twain relevant today?”

Of course my answer varies depending upon what’s happening today, so I’ve gone ahead and created a website to try to answer that intriguing question …

I only wish the Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope were with us today to comment on current events, as against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand. I also miss Samuel Johnson, Ben Franklin, Oscar Wilde, Will Rogers and Dorothy Parker.

The humorist is a vastly different animal than the comedian. The comedian’s job is to make us laugh, and laughter is good for us, it’s like massage on the inside, it cuts down on the doctor bills and keeps us from souring.

But laughter, without philosophy woven into it, is but a sneeze at humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom. And if a piece of humor is to last it must do two things, it must preach and it must teach. If it does those two things effectively, that piece of humor will last forever, which is thirty years.

The humorist is merely showing us the good-natured side of the truth. The humorist is not looking for a laugh, but is looking for the hint of a smile, or a nod of acknowledgment.

Observational wit is the humor of choice today, and that choice will trigger a Mark Twain renaissance or my name’s not Joe Montana. Twain was masterful in observing the follies of human nature, and he was a prodigious observer.

“It is easy to find fault if one has that disposition. I once knew a man who not being able to find any other fault with his coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it.”

I suspect a person would have to be at least forty years of age to find the humor in that observation. But when you get to my age, and start to looking like a prehistoric toad, you too might appreciate it.

The longer a person has lived, the more a person has traveled, the more cultured a person is, the more that person will appreciate observational wit.

Immensely more valuable than a sense of humor is a humorous outlook on life. If anything unites us across borders and cultures it is music and humor.

And I should mention just here that a discriminating irreverence is the protector of human liberty, “discriminating” being the operative word.

With Independence Day fast approaching, I might like to leave you with these patriotic words from Mark Twain…

“Well, as a matter of fact, I had an uncle, got himself killed up here once and it was just awful. Poor man, he never had any insurance, and he was always sorry about it afterwards. It was on the Fourth of July, and this uncle of mine, all full of patriotism, opened his mouth to hurrah, and a rocket went right down his throat. Before he could ask for a glass of water to quench the thing, it blew up, and for twenty-four hours it rained buttons recognizable as his. Now a man cannot have an experience like that, and be entirely cheerful for the rest of his life.”

Have a safe and memorable Memorial weekend…

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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