Friday, June 29, 2012

Book review: The Essential Groucho


Very entertaining collection of scripts, letters, stories, quotes and anecdotes by, for and about Groucho Marx. There's a little biographical information sprinkled in among the gags and witticisms, but this is largely letting Groucho speak for himself. Scenes from "Duck Soup" and "At the Races" are lifted in one chapter. Another uses Groucho's personal and public correspondence. A third curates quotes and out-takes from "you bet your life." There's one for his time on radio as well. 

At no point is Marx ever truly serious. Even when consoling TS Elliott on his illness, he still manages an acerbic jab. His stories seem to like corkscrew humor and trying to get at bottled-up truth. Nevertheless, as a Groucho fan, it was fun for me to hear Groucho's voice in my head as I read through his scripts and correspondence. 

A quirky and charming read, with a bit of an acid bite. Much like the man himself.


  1. Oh, how I love Julius! I don't think I've read this book. I remember Love, Groucho, letters to his daughter, but this one seems new. I'll have to look for it. Thanks for the heads up.