The Show  

by Mark Osterman

 

The show was made up of many four minute routines, which could be plugged in at any time depending on the sense of the audience. In between the bits we would play popular music from the early thirties with the audience. In the beginning of the show we instructed four people to play instruments whenever we pointed at them. These instruments were a duck call, a car horn, a drum and a pair of cymbals. During the musical numbers (like "I Had Someone Else Before I Had You and I'll Have Someone After You've Gone") if they played well and in time, it was amazing; if they played poorly, it was very humorous. A win-win situation!

 

The ballyhoo with the galvanic battery established the first row, then we would start playing music. Or we would just use the music to bring the people. I would also start up the model T when I had a few people, and tell them that it was lubricated with our product, Lenape (pronounced len a pee) Liquid.

 

One by one I would remove the spark coils (there is one for each piston) with the engine running saying that the ability of the engine to run on three, then two, then one cylinder was due to the properties of the golden elixir. Then I would tell them to watch as I pulled out the last coil...and the engine would go dead. The punch line was that "No engine can run on no cylinders! And that anyone who tells you that a medicine can cure anything is a scoundrel, but if you suffer from etc., etc., etc., Lenape Liquid is what you need!

 

By the time I pulled the last coil...which I made a big deal about and milked for all that is was worth...there was a big enough audience to start a show; and they were in the right mood.

 

We would then hand out the instruments and test each player by pointing to them. Then we tested the whole group of four by pointing in a sequence which we changed, like Simon Says. Once tested, we got up on stage and started the show with music. After the music a typical show would go as follows:

 

Music with audience "band." We never did sing along, because while some people liked to participate, it never, ever sounds good. We wanted people to enjoy the music and we were good.

 

Introduction and salutations. How I came to develop Lenape Liquid and how I met the Indian Screaming Weasel (who never spoke, only screamed whenever his name was mentioned during the show). It was also implied that this character was never actually an Indian, but a not-so-bright white man doing a very poor job of playing an Indian.

 

Photograph

 

Step Right Up! Dr. B. Barabus Bumstead in period dress, showcasing his product for the medicine show pitch. Note the text in the tripes-and-kiester: "If We Don't Have It, You Don't Need It." Mark Osterman writes: "The pictures of a very young me with the tripes-and-kiester set up were some of the first ever taken...showing off my fancy banjos and the first product I ever sold at medicine shows. Once I bought the old Ford and converted it to hold the folding stage, I didn't do too many low pitch shows anymore. With the two, and then three, of us and the car, we did high pitch shows until we retired. We did do some indoor vaudeville shows."  

 

 Mark Osterman aka Dr.Bumstead's

 

 


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