"Come one and all, great and small"

  • Hear Peg Leg Sam invite you the the show in RealAudio or in .wav (1.7MB)

  • Who's Who in Med Show History: Take the Quiz

  • See Doc Scott's own television opening in RealVideo or in .avi

  • Hey, see Doc Scott's Show on the News in RealViedo!

  • The traveling Medicine Show, one of the leading ways rural 19th Century America sought good times and good health.

    The Med Show recipe was unique: Combine burlesque with melo-drama, provide plenty of foot-stompin music and dazzling theatrics, add a touch of hokum with a strong dose of serious-minded medicinal hokum. To keep the audience coming back night after night, no two shows were the same. The medicine show artist had to maintain a deep repertoire of material and be able to improvise at a moments notice.

    Most shows began with a banjo solo or two. A rapid exchange of jokes, often provided by a blackface comedian, would warm the crowd. Next came music or a specialty item, such as sword-swallowing or ventriloquism. Interwoven with the entertainment was the "pitch," in which the show "doctor" would promote his medicinal wares.

    To keep 'em coming back, the Med Show often promoted a contest. Audiences would line up their young-uns for the most-beautiful baby competition or feast until sick in a pie-eating contest. The prize? A bottle of snake oil, of course.

    The Medicine Show had mostly died out by the 1920s. Movies, radio and other modern entertainment had taken over. Lost was not only a unique form of family entertainment but a community-building event that brought generations of people together in Americas hinterlands.

    Who’s who:

    Graduates of Medicine Show Circuit

    Of the following, who did not get their start in show business on the Medicine Show circuit?

    Click here to check y'alls guess