Recent Work By Tom Williams

In the halcyon days of professional mimics, shortly after they’d outpaced their predecessors, the vernacular storytellers, who had, a decade earlier, wrested the comedic throne from the one-liner royalty, it would have been difficult to name a town of ten thousand souls that didn’t possess some venue where performed those artists who made their fame and fortune with stunning mimicry of the period’s political leaders and actors, athletes and musicians, scholars, and men of science. And at every performance inside those theaters, whether located in the Badger or Beaver State, all seats were filled, as were the aisles and exits, prompting accounts of fire marshals arriving with the intent of stopping the show, only to get so caught up in their own laughter and enjoyment that they would forget their professional function as disperser of those bunched so close together as to create a hazard. Even the streets and sidewalks outside the theaters: they would be massed by citizens who’d shown up too late to purchase tickets yet wouldn’t depart; those closest pressed their ears to the doors and relayed to the others the identity of whomever the mimic was, in the parlance of the trade, “doing.” And though many couldn’t hear a word from inside the theater, they could content themselves with memories of routines, reveling in their proximity to the men whose altered voices entertained them during radio and television broadcasts every night.