Re: Marx

Click here to listen to Groucho's March 25, 1970, appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.

Here you'll find many other audio files featuring Groucho, including segments of Groucho and Chico's radio show Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel (originally broadcast in 1933, the year of their best movie, Duck Soup). There are also Groucho interviews conducted by Bill Cosby, Steve Allen, and David Steinberg.

Here you'll find some great magazine articles (with photos) about the Marx Brothers, including a couple by Groucho himself.

The following is Robert Benchley's review of the Marx Brothers' first Broadway show, I'll Say She Is. This review was originally published in the June 5, 1924, issue of Charles Dana Gibson's Life magazine.

We are happy to announce that the laughing apparatus of this department, long suspected of being out of date and useless, is in perfect running order and can be heard any evening at the Casino Theatre during those magnificent moments when the Marx Brothers are participating in "I'll Say She Is." Not since sin laid its heavy hand on our spirit have we laughed so loud and so offensively. And as we picked ourself out of the aisle following each convulsion, there rang through our soul the joyful paean: "Grandpa can laugh again! Grandpa can laugh again!"

"I'll Say She Is" is probably one of the worst revues ever staged, from the point of view of artistic merit and general deportment. And yet when the Marx Brothers appear, it becomes one of the best. Certainly we have never enjoyed one so thoroughly since the lamented Cohan Revues, and we will go before any court and swear that two of the four Marxes are two of the funniest men in the world.

We may be doing them a disservice by boiling over about them like this, but we can't help it if we feel it, can we? Certainly the nifties of Mr. Julius Marx will bear the most captious examination, and even if one in ten is found to be phony, the other nine are worth the slight wince involved at the bad one. It is certainly worth hearing him, as Napoleon, refer to the "Marseillaise" as the "Mayonnaise," if the next second he will tell Josephine that she is as true as a three-dollar cornet. The cornet line is one of the more rational of the assortment. Many of them are quite mad and consequently much funnier to hear but impossible to retail.

There is no wincing possible at the pantomime of Mr. Arthur Marx. It is 110-proof artistry. To watch him during the deluge of knives and forks from his coat sleeve, or in the poker game (where he wets one thumb and picks the card off with the other), or -- oh, well, at any moment during the show, is to feel a glow at being alive in the same generation. We hate to be like this, for it is inevitable that we are prejudicing readers against the Marx boys by our enthusiasm, but there must be thousands of you who have seen them in vaudeville (where almost everything that is funny on our legitimate stage seems to originate) and who know that we are right.

It is too bad that with such a wealth of good material of their own our heroes should have stooped to using Walt Kuhn's "Lillies of the Field" ballet without credit. The steal is palpable and inexcusable, and all the more mysterious in view of the gigantic inventive powers of the Marxes themselves. It is as if Edison were to steal an idea for a lamp. It may turn out that the Marxes have been doing this for years, like Will Morrissey and his delightfully funny Treasurer's Report, but Mr. Kuhn certainly did it better.

One word of commendation to offset the above. In Nat Martin's jazz orchestra which enlivens the finale to "I'll Say She Is" there is no saxophone comedian. The members of the orchestra simply play the notes as written, a grateful innovation in these days when each jazz band has at least one saxophonist whose friends have evidently told him that he ought to be on the stage.

Here's Alexander Woollcott's review of I'll Say She Is.