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An Evening With Groucho 1B

I use to live in a street called Ninety-third Street. And there was a girl there that I was stuck on. She was almost fifteen years old. And I used to go out every morning and buy bread for my mother. I used to get the stale bread, because it was four cents, and the regular bread was five cents. So in no time at all, about four months, I'd saved seventy cents. I was stuck on Annie Berger, she had a great pair of legs, and I used to watch her walk up the stairs - she lived on the floor above us. One day after I had the seventy cents, I said "Why don't I take you to the theater?". I had it all figured out. Ten cent car fare for two, ten cents for car fare coming back and fifty cents for two seats in the third gallery. But when we got to the theater - it was Hammerstein's Victoria Theater - there was a fella selling sauerkraut candy in front of the theater, and it was a nickle a bag. She said "Gee, I would love to have some of that sauerkraut candy." But I only had ten cents left by this time, so I bought her a bag of this candy. We were sitting in the gallery so high, we couldn't even see the actors, and she starts eating this sauerkraut candy, and I can hear her, but I can't hear the actors on the stage. And I could have killed her, I'd thought she'd offer me a piece, but she didn't. So when the show was over - by this time she had consumed all the candy - and we got outside and I said "Annie..." - it was cold, it was real cold; had been snowing all that day - I said "Look, you had sauerkraut candy, didn't you, in there. You never offered me a piece of the candy, did you? Now I only have five cents left, and we gotta go all the way to Ninety-third Street. Now, look, I care a great deal about you, but I don't wanna walk all the way to Ninety-third Street, so I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I'll toss the coin up" - this nickel that I had left - "and you holler heads or tails." She hollered "heads", it came down tails, and she walked home. I didn't see her again for ten years. Soon we were in vaudeville. And I was a German comedian with a spade beard. I was dressed like my uncle Al Shean - we were Gallagher and Shean in those days - that was my mother's brother. I don't know if you remember him, but he used to sing "Oh, Mr. Gallagher, oh Mr. Gallagher, what's on your mind this morning, Mr. Shean?". So I became a German comedian. We were playing in Shea's, Toronto. The Lusitania was sunk in the First World War. I was supposed to sing a song, a German song. I was afraid that if I did they were gonna kill me, that audience. I'm gonna sing this song for you now. I once knew a woman who couldn't spell cat. Her face was as homely as chintz. That wasn't necessary, that part you did. Hamlisch: Could I...could I try it again? Let's keep it on a high basis. Hamlisch: Could I try it again? Could I get another crack at it? OK. Hamlisch: Thank you. I once knew a woman who couldn't spell cat. Her face was as homely as chintz. In winter she always wore last summers hat, And her size eleven shoe was a pinch. When she played piano, strong men would faint, Und veek men would cry out in grief. Und as for her singing, well, it made you feel, That it wasn't so tough to be 'deef'. But with all these things that the people would say, Her voice and her looks couldn't drive them away, 'Cause, ach, how that woman could cook. Her bread was like angel food's cake. She could take soup meat, and give it one look, And right away it was porterhouse steak. Her pfannkuchen, what a beautiful dream, Her tripe was like peaches in cream, And with the table between us, She looked exactly like Venus, Oh, God, how that woman could cook. Obviously, with the Lucetania laying at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, I would have got killed if I had sang this song in Canada. So I put some make-up on again, and I made myself a Jew comedian, which I'd never been, I'd never been a Jew comedian, and I sang this song. Mr. and Mrs. Klein, they lived a life so fine, until the relatives came. Uncle und tante Wolf, brought over the little Wolfs, like wolves they lived up to their name. One week went by, Klein started to cry, It looks like the Wolfs mean to stay. So he tells his wife one night, that while they were sleeping tight, let's leave them, and we'll run away. Say, it's better to run to Toronto, than to live in a place you don't want to. With twenty wolves in front of me, my house looks like a menagerie. Imagine the cheek from the tante, to bring all the Wolfs from Toronto, and, oy, how they can eat, at least a pound of meat. Say, they take what they want, when they want to. Just think what the bills will amount to. Every day they are growing more and more. They eat one meal a day, that's right, they start in the morning and finish at night. It's going to be a cold cold winter, and I can't keep the Wolfs from the door. Thank you. When I was over in London, some years ago - I did a quiz show over there for a while. It wasn't too successful, but the...eh...the American ambassador, he liked me, because I used to be funny and crack jokes. Jackie Onassis' sister, Radziwill, you may have seen her, she's been on TV a few times. She's a very pretty girl, and she had a husband, who was Polish. He was well over four feet, and I told him a story. This is the story: It's about a hooker. You all know what that is, I guess. I'm sure that sometime in your life, somebody has seen one. It was a story about a girl who picks up a Pole, and takes him home, and feeds him, gets him dinner. They go to bed that night, have a great time. Next morning she helps him get dressed, puts on his uniform with his big epaulets hanging on, and he starts to leave. Then she says "Just a moment, what about money?", and he says "A Polish officer doesn't accept money." I don't know if you remember the 2nd World War, because there's so many now, it's hard to keep track of them. Well, during the 2nd World War, Hess had been sent by Hitler to try to negotiate peace with Churchill. Churchill at that time was in the projection room at 10 Downing Street running "Monkey Business". He sent an orderly to the door, and said "Tell him to come back after I've seen Monkey Business, and we'll discuss business." One night at the embassy Winston Churchill's daughter Mary was my dinner partner. When the butler passed around the cigars, she said "Take one for me." I said "What? What do you want a cigar for? You don't smoke cigars, do you?". She said "No, but my father does, Winston, and we play a little game.". I said "What kind of a game?". "I take a cigar, and he takes a cigar, and then he bets me a pound" - I think it was around two and a half dollars - "and we bet who can hold the ash on the cigar the longest." At this time he was running the British government. Now, you never think of a man like that trying to win two bucks from his daughter. Speaking of vaudeville, there used to be a critic in Chicago, when we played there, by the name of Percy Hammond. This is about thirty years ago, I guess. He was on the Chicago Tribune, and he reviewed our act. We did a big act, and we had about twenty-five people on there, and he reviewed the act, and the next morning this was the review. He said "The Marx Brothers and their various relatives ran around the stage for almost an hour, yesterday afternoon. Why I'll never understand." During the 2nd World War, years later, the Chicago Tribune correspondent had died, and they had to get a new guy to...eh...to go over and cover the war. They had a big meeting one day there, and Ring Lardner were there and they had the whole staff of the Chicago Tribune. And somebody suggested sending Percy Hammond over, this critic who had reviewed our act. And Ring Lardner said "No, no, you can't do that. Suppose he doesn't like the war." How many of you have read the George Kaufman book? Nobody, eh? He was a close friend of mine. He was a hell of a playwright, and he was also a show doctor, and I remember one of the Bloomingdales department store family was producing a show and opening it in Philadelphia, and they invited George Kaufman to come down there and see the show, because it needed a little help. And Kaufman went down and sat in the second or third row, and when the show was over, the fellow from Bloomingdales, he came down in the audience, and he said to George, he said "How about the show, how did you like it?" And Kaufman said "Tell you what you do: close the show and keep the store open at nights." I was playing the Palace Theater once, and Sarah Bernhardt was on the bill. She was one of the first great stars to play the Palace. She insisted on getting a thousand dollars in cash before she appeared. She was old at that time, but they wanted her at the Palace just the same. She used to do some scene, where she used to lie in a coffin and play a dramatic scene. Oh, she was alive. She only had one leg. Did you know that? She was getting a thousand dollars before each performance. I had two legs and I was getting fifty dollars a week. Once we were on the bill with Fanny Brice. I'm sure a lot of you remember Fanny Brice. She was quite a performer, and on the bill, too, was an act called Swayne's Rats and Cats, and you wouldn't believe that, but that was the name of the act. And they had a miniature race track on the stage, and the rats were dressed as jockeys and the cats were horses. It was an incredible act, imagine teaching these...these rats and cats to learn all this, and they wore the uniforms, too. And one day while they were doing the act, there was a scream came from Fanny's dressing room, and Swayne ran in there. And he had a Turkish towel with him, I don't know what he gonna... Fanny Brice was standing on a chair, frightened a bit, got her clothes a-way up. Swayne grabs this rat - it wasn't one of the rats from his act. This was a sewer rat that had gotten into the theater. Swayne captures this sewer rat, and the next year we played on the bill with Swayne again, and this rat was now the star of the show. When we did "Animal Crackers" we needed two minutes for a change - a scenery change - so I wrote a ridiculous poem. And I always think of whether the audiences really listens to the actor on the stage. I wrote the most ridiculous poem, you could possibly write, and tried it on the audience. And the first three weks we did the show, we used to get a sophisticated New York audience, and they used to laugh and they used to applaud at the end. Then we started to get the out-of-towners, people from the middle west, and they though I were serious. Here's the way it goes: Did you ever sit and ponder, as you walk along the strand, that life's a bitter battle at the best. And if you only knew it you would lend a helping hand, then every man could meet the final test. The world is but a stage, my friend, and life's but a game, and how you play is all that matters in the end. But whether a man is right or wrong, a woman gets the blame, and your mother is your dog's best friend. Then up came mighty Casey, and strode up to the bat, and Sheridan was fifty miles away. For it takes a heap of loving to make a home like that, on the road to where the flying fishes play. Then I used to take a chair, which the vaudeville actors used to do in those days, and I would start walking off the stage, and the last line would be: So be a real life Pagliac' and laugh, Clown, laugh.