You will need to know a little bit about the award itself, so read about the award and its past recipients first. Write a 2-paragraph summary of this information.
Research and analyze what makes things funny. Read about different elements of humor. (See list on the Resources page, too.) Make a list of five of the types of humor you believe are most common today, and give an example for each one. Be sure your examples are appropriate for school. (Skip "blue humor.")
You need to learn about Mark Twain's style of humor. To do that, complete the following tasks:
- Read the excerpt from Twain's autobiography, Life on the Mississippi, found in your textbook beginning on p. 453. Find at least 3 types of humor present and give at least one example for each one.
- Read the Twain one-liners on p. 465 and compare them to those of contemporary comedians. How are Twain's one-liners different from one-liners by, say, Dave Chappelle, Jeff Dunham, or Larry the Cable Guy? Use (clean) examples to explain the similarities and differences.
- Read at least 2 more short stories by Mark Twain. One of them MUST be "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." You may choose the second story yourself. For each story, write a one-paragraph summary of the plot and then list examples of humor at work in the story. (Remember: you are looking for Mark Twain's humor. Maybe you don't think it's funny today, but you should be able to tell when Twain's audience would have been laughing.)
- Watch the video Mark Twain Tonight starring Hal Holbrook. How is your understanding of his humor affected by seeing it performed instead of reading it? Write a response to the video, comparing and contrasting Twain's humor with the humor of today.
By the time you have completed all of the above, you have gathered a great deal of information about Mark Twain. You are ready to write and design your presentation. Click on "Resources" for help with design and other links.