Every kid wants to make their parents happy, until they reach about the age of 14, then the roles reverse. However, when I was at the ripe age of about 8 years old, I have a vivid memory of my mother sitting me down in front of the television set. She told me to “watch this”. Of course, like any kid, you do what your parents tell you. Now this was back in the days when there was probably three or four channels. Kids programming consisted of shows like The Big Circus, Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo.
None of these shows were on that moment my mother gave me an order. It was The Marx Brothers in Duck Soup. Kind of an odd choice for an 8 year old. I am sure I was as clueless as Margaret Dumont when it came to Groucho’s sexual inuendo, but it didn’t matter. I was infatuated with the shennanigans of Harpo. He was a clown, only much funnier.
I cite this moment as the day I became a stand-up comedian, in my mind. It took me some 25 years later to actually try it, but this early memory was the foundation of my love for comedy. It was the first day of school. I became a student, studying for the rest of my life.
As I go through life, I always go back to Duck Soup, and the Marx Brothers. No matter how much comedy has evolved, there is always a hint of Groucho, Chico and Harpo in everything I see and hear that is considered funny.
Now at 8, Harpo was the draw, but it wasn’t until years later that I realized the genius of Groucho Marx. Not only because I finally understood what he was saying, but his timing, his improvisational skills and his character encompassed all things that are great about the craft of joke telling. He was a master.
Julius, the man, did not feel up to par with his musically talented brothers. Chico’s piano playing was legendary. Harpo’s physical comedy unsurpassed. I still don’t know how he did half the things he did. But it was Groucho that brought the art of stand-up comedy to the forefront. He was the insult comic, the one liner comedian, and the perfect straightman to his brothers when needed.
I have been a fan of The Marx Brothers since I was 8 years old, a lover of Groucho since my teens, and to this day, I laugh at everything I have seen hundreds of times.
This blog will be my tribute to my hero of comedy.
Hail Groucho !!!