Back in 1998 when I was just 10 years old, I saw a movie that changed my life forever. It was an old black and white film I thought would be of no interest to me, but my mother promised it would be great. It was one of her favorite comedies she said. That movie was Duck Soup. She pressed play on the VCR, and I never stopped laughing since.
Duck Soup is a work of insane genius, thanks entirely to its cast, the vaudeville team of The Marx Brothers, wise cracking Groucho, dimwitted Chico, silence and insane Harpo, and the straight man Zeppo. Today we’re here to talk about my favorite of the group and a personal hero of mine, Groucho.
Born Julius Henry Marx in 1980, Groucho was one of a kind. He and that black smear of paint on his upper lip always stole the show with his clever wit and putdowns of perfection. A raunchy and rude comedian, Groucho’s comedy is as fresh and funny as it was back then, inspiring many comedians like George Carlin who specialized in insulting their audiences in such a way, you couldn’t help but love them for it. The black paint smeared visage that was Groucho’s face has been described as follows. “Groucho’s face said ‘I may look like an idiot, but you ARE an idiot.'”
Groucho always went against the crowd, even for his time. His television show was canceled after an especially raunchy joke where a guest told him she’s had 22 children with her husband ‘because she loved him.’ Groucho’s immortal response was “Well lady, I love my cigar but I take it out every once in a while.” Later in life Groucho became a fan and good friend of singer/songwriter Alice Cooper, much to the surprise of his fans. Knowing Groucho, he probably sought the singer out figuring ‘if this guy upsets so many people, he’s my kind of guy.’
Groucho passed away in August of 1977 after a spectacular career of stage and screen. He was a ripe 86 years of age. There are many personal heroes I’d love to meet for a variety of reasons, Jesus Christ, Carl Sagan, J.R.R Tolkien, so I might be lucky enough to share a few words and memories with them. Groucho is such a hero. I’d love to shake his hand, if only to hear how he’d insult me. With a man like Groucho, you can bet you’ll die laughing.
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite Groucho Quotes, as well as this fond farewell. To the man who gave us Captain Spaulding, Rufus T. Firefly, Professor Wagstaff and so many others, I wish you a happy 111th birthday. You once said “I aim to live forever or die trying.” I think the laughter you’ve left behind is proof of your immortality.