Changing the subject
- Groucho stories, even if youve heard them, are still
good. Like the well-known story of his daughter and
the restricted country club pool. Groucho: But my
daughters only half-Jewish. Can she go in up to her
I have a particular fondness for the one Im about to
tell you, partly because I got it directly from
Groucho. I may have told it in the 1982 documentary,
The Marx Brothers in a Nutshell.
The setting is vaudeville. The young Marx brothers had
barely heard of movies and were rollicking around the
country as big stage stars and enjoying the fruits of
fame, one being its proven effectiveness as an
aphrodisiac. You know my brothers name is often
mispronounced, Groucho would say. My uncle [Al
Shean] who named us all pronounced it Chicko because
of my brothers monumental success with chicks. He
was catnip to all women. And we were opposites in
other ways, too.
They were playing somewhere in Iowa. One night while
they were removing their makeup, there was a knock at
the dressing room door and a middle-aged Jewish couple
came in. After effusive compliments on the boys act,
the husband said, We know you boys are Jewish, and we
thought you might like to come to our house on Friday
night for a traditional Jewish dinner. The invitation
On Wednesday, Groucho and Chico were out strolling,
and Chico, with his genius for numbers (and lack of it
for gambling), noticed a house address. He said,
Isnt that the number of those nice peoples house?
It was, and it was the house. They decided to pay a
They rang the bell and an attractive girl appeared. As
luck (or something) would have it, there were the
couples two pretty daughters. The parents were out.
Groucho: Thanks to Chicos skills in this area, in
two shakes of a lambs tail we were out of our clothes
and in bed with the two daughters. Balancing Chicos
great luck in getting us there, his ill luck dealt the
next card. The bedroom door opened and there were the
Chico was more accustomed to this sort of predicament
than I was, so I followed his example which was
grabbing up our clothes and high-tailing it out the
window. Fortunately, we were on the ground floor. In
any case, the penultimate thing the parents saw were
our two buck-naked rear ends disappearing over the
window sill. The ultimate thing they saw was Chicos
head reappearing momentarily, saying, I hope this
doesnt affect Friday night.
Frank Thomas Smith
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