Clemens had a pleasant tenor voice and enjoyed singing his favorite hymns, spirituals, and popular songs, sometimes accompanying himself on the piano. He and his family, like their friends and neighbors, took part in play-acting and charades, which often required elaborate home-made costumes and props.
Clemens was a talented amateur actor, and made his public début in April 1876 in a production of an old melodrama, The Loan of a Lover. His improvisations confused his fellow players, but delighted the audience.
The theatrical world held another powerful attraction for Clemens: he was an aspiring playwright, who ultimately had two solid successes to his credit—one in 1874 and a second in 2007.