THE HISTORY OF STAND-UP: Wayne Federman in conversation with Katie Mears

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May 12, 2021 • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Today’s top stand-up comedians sell out arenas, generate millions of dollars, tour the world, and help shape our social discourse. So, how did this all happen?

The History of Stand-Up: From Mark Twain to Dave Chappelle chronicles the evolution of this American art form – from its earliest pre-vaudeville practitioners like Artemus Ward and Mark Twain to present-day comedians of HBO and Netflix. Drawing on his acclaimed History of Stand-up podcast and popular university lectures, veteran comedian and adjunct USC professor Wayne Federman guides us on this fascinating journey. The story has a connective tissue – humans standing on stage, alone, trying to get laughs. That experience connects all stand-ups through time, whether it’s at the Palace, the Copacabana, the Apollo, Mister Kelly’s, the hungry i, Grossinger’s, the Comedy Cellar, the Improv, the Comedy Store, Madison Square Garden, UCB, or at an open mic in a backyard.

This virtual program is free to attend, though when you register, we hope you’ll consider contributing what you’d call a fair ticket price. We thank you for your attendance whether you’re able to donate or not. REGISTER HERE.

Signed copies of The History of Stand-Up will be available for purchase through the Mark Twain Store; proceeds benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. Books will be shipped after the event. We regret that we are NOT able to ship books outside the United States as it is cost-prohibitive to do so.

Wayne Federman is an Emmy-nominated stand-up, actor, author, professor, and podcaster. He co-hosts the acclaimed podcast The History of Stand-Up. Wayne has been a touring comedian for over 35 years and has appeared on The Tonight Show as well as his own special on Comedy Central. Wayne co-produced the Emmy-winning documentary The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling and is currently co-producing a George Carlin documentary for HBO. Wayne has acted in numerous films and TV shows including Legally Blonde, Knocked Up, Step Brothers, The 40‐Year‐Old Virgin, 50 First Dates, Funny People, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley, Shameless, The Larry Sanders Show, Community, and The X-Files. Wayne co-wrote the sports bestseller MARAVICH The Authorized biography of Pistol Pete. (“The definitive biography of Pete Maravich” ESPN). And in his spare time, Wayne is an adjunct professor of stand-up history and performance at USC. 
Katie Mears is a comedy journalist living in New York City. For nearly a decade, she has been fascinated by stand-up comedy and the comedians who perform it. She has worked in comedy clubs, hosted a stand-up comedy themed radio show, helped write a book about stand-up, written articles, produced video essays, and interviewed some really lovely comedians. She wrote her Master’s thesis about Mark Twain’s Lecture Tours and the origins of American stand-up comedy.
Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign and its Travelers Arts Impact Grant program, with major support from The Travelers Foundation. For more information call 860-247-0998 or visit


May 12, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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