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figure STRICKLAND GILLILAN Leading Lyceum Humorist STRICKLAND GILLILAN, Humorist The Start of Him N O humorist ever had a more serious beginning than did Mr. Gillilan. He had every advantage of plain and fancy poverty, in the circumstances of his Southern Ohio birth and early environment. He had also the advantage of a father of sterling character and Irish extraction, and a mother of most remarkable natural ability and mental attainments. So the humdrum surroundings of the farm where, as he says, there were about four stones to one dirt, and the dismal prospect of a life sentence among the almost squalid and wholly obscure settings of his youth were ameliorated by a sense of humor which he cultivated in self-defense. Also the aloofness from the bigger and busier world was a stimulus to ambition. His was a family of school-teachers and college-hungry folk. As soon as he could save enough from teaching he put himself through the first three years at the Ohio University at Athens. There he led his class, but he declares it was headed the wrong way. He was chiefly distinguished for an insatiate desire to do things differently. Also he made himself conspicuous for the desperate lengths to which he would go to avoid literary society duties in the line of standing up on his feet and either reciting or debating. Shooting at sunrise would have been considered a privilege in comparison with delivering an extemporaneous or a prepared speech of any length or brevity. Since then he has been the chief secondary speaker with Presidents of the United States and other distinguished persons, and wears his honors easily because he neither over- nor under-rates them. Anybody, he says, speaking of his brilliant fellow-guests on these state occasions, is either a human or less. He can't be more. I'm one of those humans myself. So why part with my goat? His Literary Career W HILE a boy he began writing for the county-seat newspapers; when in college he wrote for the college-town weekly, and was editor for a time of the students' paper. Leaving college in 1892 to assume a $6-a-week job on the Richmond (Ind.) Telegram, his newspaper career began. We have his word for it that this career was not brilliant. At times he did creditable work, but mostly he barely scratched along and held his job. Now and then he did a brilliant bit of writing, and then for a week or so sat around and admired himself for it. He has held positions from office boy down to managing editor on two papers in Richmond, Ind., (it being on the Palladium's staff that he wrote the Off agin, on agin, gone agin—Finnigin that labeled him), one in Marion, Ind., one in Los Angeles, Cal., three in Baltimore, Md., one in Chicago, Ill., and one in Indianapolis, Ind., besides the other papers of the Shafer syndicate. He has done much syndicate work, and is now on the staffs of the following publications, regularly: Philadelphia Retail Public Ledger, Life Association News (New York), Success Magazine (New York), Motor Life (New York), Maryland Motorist (Baltimore), Farm Life, Detroit Athletic Club News, Journal of Education (Boston), Lyceum Magazine, Lyceum News, Fort Dearborn Magazine and other publications of general and special circulation, including Ladies' Home Journal, etc. In addition he writes much special matter for the Munsey publications and others. He produces and markets from 500 to 1,000 words every day of his life. His four books published by Forbes & Co., Chicago, have a wide sale, and are entitled: Including Finnigin, verse; Including You and Me, verse; Sunshine and Awkwardness, and A Sample Case of Humor, prose books containing much of his lecture material. The last-named is a sort of authoritative text-book on the general subject of humor, and is the only book on humor that has any humor in it. Ohio University has made him an honorary M. A. On the Platform H IS first serious attempt at a humorous entertainment was in cahoots with a local harpist, at Richmond, Ind., in 1898, shortly after Finnigin had made him famous. For three weeks before that shindy, he says, I wasn't warm. I shuddered day and night with horror at what I was about to attempt. I plumb exhausted my capacity for fright then, and haven't been scared once since. But the entertainment was not a failure—the harpist was good, the humorist says. And from then on his rise was sure and swift. No man not in political life has spoken to more people in the last-past twenty years than has Mr. Gillilan. He has had, every year, more dates than he had contracted for. His idea of his maximum has always turned out to be the booking agency's minimum. While many speakers have clamored for more dates, Mr. Gillilan, partly on account of his literary activities and partly through devotion to his family, has always yelled for fewer. The press everywhere has been wonderfully kind to him, partly as he modestly states through the well-known clannishness of newspaper men, but mainly as his friends believe because of the sincere human merit of his platform work, which has always been the very essence of informality. His success has been unmarred by dissipation and unreliability, for which he is profoundly grateful. Many better men have gone wrong for awhile, he says, but my environment was fortunately more favorable to monotonous respectability. Those familiar with his life know that his verses about home and home ties are an unexaggerated index to his real life. No one appreciates press notices more than I, he says, but there have been so many and such good press notices about everybody that they are no longer as convincing as the first ones were. So I do not present any. This is his sixteenth summer in chautauquas.
|Title||Strickland Gillilan: leading lyceum humorist|
|Topical Subject (LCSH)||
|Personal Name Subject||Gillilan, Strickland|
|Digital Collection||Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century|
|Contributing Institution||University of Iowa. Libraries. Special Collections Dept.|
|Archival Collection||Redpath Chautauqua Collection|
|Rights Management||Educational use only, no other permissions given. U.S. and international copyright laws may protect this digital image. Commercial use or distribution of the image is not permitted without prior permission of the copyright holder.|
|Contact Information||Contact the Special Collections Dept. at The University of Iowa Libraries: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/contact/index/|
|Number of Pages||4|
|Digitization Specifications||Scanned at 600 dpi, 32-bit color. Master image available in tiff format.|