Synopses & Reviews
Dan Rice had many lives. He was a pig presenter, a strongman, a lecturer, and a comic singer, all before joining the dazzling world of the circus. In 1855, he created Dan Rice's Great Show. Labeling himself the "Great American Humorist," he toured the country and spoke out on issues of the day before large crowds. Swept up in a new cult of celebrity, he rose to become one of the most famousand infamousmen in America. He even ran for president. So why have so few people ever heard of Dan Rice? Propelled by an urge toward "refinement," American amusements began to stratify in the mid-19th century. The raucous antebellum jumble of performers, audiences, and forms split along a new performance hierarchy of high and low. Circus, though still vastly popular, became seen as lowbrow. In that changed world, Rice's aggressive humor and robust connection with a noisy, participatory audience became seen as crudeand worsea civic threat.
David Carlyon weaves a remarkably rich portrait of turbulent times that raised one ambitious, creative man to glorious heights and then, embarrassed by its enthusiasm, buried him in sentimentality and finally oblivion.
Now in paperback: Carlyon's "masterful work of cultural and theater criticism" Publishers Weekly, (starred review)
About the Author
After graduating from Clown College, David Carlyon toured three years with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. He has since worked as an actor, director, playwright and university professor. He was in the Army, has a Ph.D. in Theatre from Northwestern University and holds a Berkeley law degree. He lives in Larchmont, New York with his wife and two sons.