Book Report: Axin’ Her Father by O.E. Young (1901)

Book cover Given the recent Tom Hanks was near someone in blackface scandal, it seemed the very time to read this little one-act skit that I picked up somewhere.

It’s a short, 25 minute skit from 1901 for a minstrel show, wherein I guess a white guy would put on black face and make humor from the mannerisms of colored folk. This piece features five characters: An older father who is hard of hearing; an eldest daughter who has caught a man to marry, a wealthy man; a middle daughter who is a romantic and sees the match through that prism; the youngest daughter, who has a sharp tongue; and the “wealthy” man who has just come into an inheritance of $44.75 and some shoes and who is being henpecked into the marriage by the eldest daughter.

The piece is written heavily in Negro dialect, or at least that which the author would call Negro dialect. It’s harder to read even than some of Kipling’s argot, which might be why I found a bookmark halfway through its fifteen pages. It’s not very funny, either, but I’m a hundred years past the target audience. I can see some of the gags, though, the more clever ones that don’t rely on the basic comedy elements of the father mishearing the courtier or the continual repeating of the fortune that the young man has inherited.

Meh. It comes from a whole series, which proves that before radio, television, the movies, and the Internet, people would watch anything.

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