Ken Leighton 12:03 p.m., Jan. 24
Truth in advertising: Woody plugs Groucho
I saw Groucho Marx perform in person.
Allow me to take a moment to stick my tongue out at you unfortunates who can't claim the same.
It was a few months shy of my Bar Mitzvah when Groucho agreed to do a favor for his old pal, Northwestern University professor of English and television host, Bergen Evans. Groucho consented to appear on campus for a one-man show, of sorts, in the then under renovation Dyches Stadium.
Two hundred folding chairs were set up in a corner of the entrance way for Groucho to regale the throng. To say that he wasn't in the best of spirits is an understatement. At one point during the Q&A someone asked, "Will you say, 'Say the secret woid and the duck will come down?'" "No," Groucho shot back. "What is this, giveaway night? Next question!" He wore his trademarked golf hat (topped off with Styrofoam figurines) and told patented anecdotes, but it was still the one, the only, Groucho.
Last night, this 1974 Village Voice advertisement for a two-disc recording of an evening with Groucho at Carnegie Hall brought it all back to me.
Woody's right, you know. There is Groucho Marx and everybody else.
Many of the stories he told that night at Northwestern made it to the album, although the absence of Marvin Hamlish limited Groucho's musical offerings to just one, Lydia the Tattooed Lady. The entire concert is on YouTube (everything is on YouTube!). It's been a good 30 years since I last heard the one man show and was shocked by how many times my lips moved as I followed along verbatim.
You'll have to listen on the installment plan (it's in 7 parts), but if you're a fan of the man and have never heard this, I'll say "you're welcome" in advance. If you are not a fan of Groucho Marx, beat it!
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- Anatomy of an Ad Campaign: The Marx Bros. Duck Soup — July 14, 2011