October 2 is the 130th birthday of Julius Henry Marx, affectionately known to all of us as “Groucho.” Without doubt, Groucho Marx is one of the greatest comedians of all time. His distinctive appearance — greased-painted mustache and exaggerated eyebrows, owl-rimmed glasses, the stooped-over walk, and the ever-present cigar — were part of his shtick. However, I fondly remember Groucho for being the master of quick witted one-liners — his classical “Grouchoisms.”
Groucho was born to a humble immigrant family. He went into vaudeville at a very young age. Groucho’s life in “show biz” hindered his efforts to receive a formal education. Yet, despite the absence of a proper education, Groucho was a voracious reader.
Groucho’s insatiable appetite for the printed word endeared him to some of the leading literary icons of the time; such as T.S. Elliot, Booth Tarkington, and Carl Sandburg. Groucho was a novelist in his own “write;” he had authored several books, to include his autobiography.
Today, comedians rely on the “3-o’s” for a laugh. They typically depend on being “obnoxious,” “obscene,” and “offensive.” Groucho never had to drop “F-bombs” to be funny. Instead, Groucho Marx used his keenly developed rapier wit to keep us laughing for some seven decades; and, today, we still find ourselves laughing at Groucho’s unique humor.
Irving Berlin once quipped, “The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.” Perhaps the world would be a much happier place if more people were like Groucho Marx.
John Di Genio