Contrary to the copious and widely acknowledged factual evidence, Vaudeville is actually a real place: a small town in Southeastern Tennessee, which was prophetically given the name “the Holly wood of the 1890s” in 1794 by me, Herman the Soothsayer (this article was written and then put in a time capsule in 1328, for publication in this guide in 2009). In the 1890s, betting that the “Hollywood of the 1890s” would catapult them to film stardom once that medium was invented and established, many young comedians, actors, singers, and dancers flocked to the small town, including such luminaries as the Marx brothers, Charlie Chaplin, and Jimmy Durante. This is particularly notable because, despite the fact that all of these actors, singers, dancers, and comedians could speak clearly and beautifully, they all performed in perfect silence, anticipating the limitations of the anticipated medium. By projecting my consciousness from here in the Holy Roman Empire in 1328 to some place called the “United States of America” in the year 2009, and then translating my thoughts into some unrecognizable form of the “new kid on the block” language known as “English” here in 1328, I can see backward to 1898 and know that Vaudeville’s high water mark came on March 4, when Buster Keaton silently, terribly ate a large ball-bearing sandwich to the general disinterest of a small, mostly non-English speaking crowd of day laborers. This was no comedy.
As I leave my mortal body in 1328 and render physical my spiritual essence in 2009, I can see that today, Vaudeville is surrounded by a tremendous moat and is protected by a mighty dragon that contains the soul of Lou Costello. Since the 1890s and the invasion of the silent performers, all citizens of Vaudeville are mimes by birth, and distrustful by nature. The heads of many regicides sit high atop its outer wall as a warning to those who would try to murder its king; the people here are scared of their rulers but petrified of outsiders, and so they live in a kind of suspended animation, afraid to revolt and afraid of revolution. Even now, as some residents of the city try pathetically to signal to your dutiful time-traveling correspondent in their creepy mimeish ways, dancing on the city walls, other mimes mimic what it would be like to shoot flaming arrows down upon me, and others still mimic what those arrows would look like as they hurtled their way through the air and down, down, ever downward toward my fragile figure below. These awful people have wasted their stupid lives. So now I know: To waste a terrible thing is a mime. For example: Andy mimed his near-fatal disease by failing to get a lot of sympathy money and gifts for it from his friends, relatives, and enemies.
Maybe this should be the entry for “Mime.” That’s a question for the editors; I have to get back to the Holy Roman Empire now. All this projecting is making me thirsty. – Herman the Soothsayer