A Night with Mark Twain
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Thurmond-McRae Auditorium, Brenau University, 500 Washington St. SE, Gainesville
How much: Free
More Info: 770-532-3311, ext. 134
The first time actor Dave Ehlert played Mark Twain, he channelled his grandfather — a “crotchety old man from Denmark” — and gave him a Southern accent.
In the five years since, he’s perfected the role. And now, when he opens his mouth on stage, he spins the famous Twain witticisms with a fitting Southern cadence.
On Thursday, he’ll take the stage in Gainesville for an event sponsored by the Friends of the Hall County Library and Brenau University’s Learning and Leisure Institute.
Lisa MacKinney, assistant director of the Hall County Library, said the event is a way to thank the community for their support of the Friends group, the library’s fundraising body.
“We have a lot of people who have been very vocal in their support of the library and active in the Friends group and they just wanted to do a little thank you for the community,” she said. “And they also wanted to remind people, the Friends group is there and they’re always busy trying to raise funds for the library and remind political figures how important library services are.”
The event will be free to the public and MacKinney said she’s expecting a large crowd, as similar Mark Twain impersonation events in the area have sold out in the past.
She said this event is especially timely, as Mark Twain’s autobiography, “Autobiography of Mark Twain” is currently sitting on national best-seller lists.
She said the library has been getting calls from residents who can’t even find a copy of it in local bookstores. Last week it was back-ordered on Amazon.
There will be about 25 copies available for sale at the event, she said.
Ehlert, who has impersonated Twain in about 30 states in the last year and a half, said the author was America’s first stand-up comedian.
In his performance, Ehlert tries to recreate one of Twain’s famous public lectures, where the author shared his candid thoughts on everyone from “lawyers to preachers to politicians and other despicable people,” he said.
“He always said, ‘I can’t make up my mind if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by idiots who really mean it,’” Ehlert said.
As an actor from Branson, Mo., Ehlert spends most of his time on stage impersonating nearly 25 musicians in one show.
“If I was walking down the street you’d probably think Elvis before Mark Twain,” he said. “But after a half an hour in makeup it’s a different story.”
As Twain, he steps on stage in the signature white suit.
“His humor was timeless and he never used humor for humor’s sake,” Ehlert said.
“He used humor as a tool to teach and believed when someone learned something while laughing that it would stay with him for a long time.”