I've finally gotten around to reading The Essential Groucho: Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx, Stefan Kanfer 1990 book of fine grouchovian material that contains at least five guaranteed laughs on every page.
The book opens with a series of classic sketches from the radio plays, plays and films, lightly introduced with context about each release, but focusing mainly on the transcendant moments of pure Groucho -- the Tootsie Frootsie Ice-a-Cream, the address to the college administrators, the war council of Freedonia.
Then into the best of Groucho's correspondence, including the notorious and outrageous letter to Warner Brothers about "A Night in Casablanca" (including the ensuing volleys with the increasingly puzzled studio lawyers) and the warm and collegial letters between Groucho and TS Eliot (who was willing to make an exception to his anti-Semitism in Groucho's case).
The next section, Freelancing, is filled with newspaper editorials and articles written by (and sometimes about) Groucho, and it's here that I found myself reading a lot of material that I'd never seen before, placed in context by Kanfer's snappy little intros.
The book closes with a selection of howlers from You Bet Your Life (To a meteorologist: "Any little squalls running around at home with their barometers dropping?") -- starting with one-liners, then short excerpts, then long, sustained comic bits where Groucho seemed to catch fire.
I'm a huge Groucho fan, and I've been collecting books, video and audio of his performances since I was a teenager. He was a true blade when it came to verbal swordfighting, and The Essential Groucho is a fantastic little anthology of some truly impressive material, whether you're a Groucho novice or an old hand.
The Essential Groucho: Writings by, for, and about Groucho Marx
My UK publisher, Head of Zeus, has published the official tour schedule for the British tour for Walkaway, with stops in Oxford (with Tim Harford), London (with Laurie Penny), Liverpool (with Chris Pak), Birmingham, and the Hay Literary Festival (with Dr Adam Rutherford). Hope to see you there!
My publicist just found an extra box of the cool promotional Walkaway multitools, and she’s generously offered to give them to the next 100 people to reserve tickets to the May 7th Walkaway event at Chicago’s Royal George Theater, where I’m presenting with CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY creator Max Temkin (current ticket-holders, don’t worry, you get […]
Carol from Cheapass Games writes, “In our continuing quest to bring back the very best classic Cheapass Games, we’re creating a new boxed set of Button Men, our strategy dice combat game. This time around, the characters will appear on cards, rather than pin-back buttons, but since they’re all 1950s era gangsters, the ‘button men’ […]
Bamboo has lots of uses beyond just being panda food. Things like bikes, roads, scaffolding, and musical instruments are made from the fast-growing grass. But unless you are participating in a tropical-themed LARP, you probably wouldn’t want a shirt made from bamboo stalks. So why do bamboo bed sheets make any sense? Because yarn extracted from […]
If you want to work in tech, but don’t have any desire to code web apps to help businesses sell things to other business, you might want to consider a career in cybersecurity. Judging from the apparent complete infiltration of Russian hackers in American cyberspace, it seems fair to speculate that there’s a major shortage of […]
All moms are different. But all moms like getting flowers on Mother’s Day, and that’s a fact (not, however a fact we can document in any fashion.) Instead of getting chewed out for forgetting to call her on the second Sunday of May, you can take care of it ahead of time with Teleflora’s flower […]