Miller and Lyles: Seminal African American Comedy Team

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Today is the birthday of Flournoy Miller, who, with partner Aubrey Lyles, formed the seminal African American comedy team Miller and Lyles. By seminal, I mean they were in on the ground floor — only Walker and Williams predate them. After early beginnings at the Pekin Theater Stock Company in Chicago (circa 1906-1909), they spent several years doing a crosstalk comedy act in vaudeville. Their act was one of a mere handful of African American acts to make it to the big time. While they followed the convention at the time of working in burnt cork, the characters were a couple of amusing hustlers as opposed to cheerful, childlike “darkies”. The act is said to have been a major influence on the Caucasian blackface team of Moran and Mack, as well as (more significantly) Amos ‘n’ Andy (both the radio and television version of which Miller later wrote for and helped produce). Apart from that, the team’s most lasting and important legacy was having written the book to the landmark Broadway smash Shuffle Along, with music by Sissle and Blake. Remember their names. They deserve to be remembered.

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsultNo Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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3 Responses to “Miller and Lyles: Seminal African American Comedy Team”

  1. are there any pictures of irvin c miller, Flournoy millers brother? I love and appreciate this photo. thanks.

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    • Hi! I’m not a collector myself (found the photo online) but hopefully one of our readers will chime in! Good luck!

      Like

  2. […] revues like Blackbirds of 1928 and The Chocolate Scandals of 1931. He was briefly teamed up with Flournoy Miller in several shows and films following the success of their interplay in a revival of Shuffle Along. […]

    Like

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