In the summer of 1960 at the age of five, I joined an honored folk tradition by telling my first Comstock lie. It was about a sex worker who had transformed into a legend of the Wild West.
In a daring act, facing frightful peril, Mark Twain exploited a legend to launch his onstage comic career. With his future as a lecturer on a knife’s edge, Twain decided to open with a worn-out narrative that had seen better days. A disgruntled audience nearly drove him from the stage … until they understood his brilliant manipulation of their own folklore.