Most of my heroes are comedians, but none mean as much to me, or have had a more profound impact on my life and work, than Groucho, Harpo, and Chico Marx. I cannot express how much I love them.
Joe Adamson is the author of Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Sometimes Zeppo: A History of the Marx Brothers and a Satire of the Rest of the World, which is the best book ever written about the Brothers, and in my opinion one of the best books ever written, period. Adamson recognizes the Brothers as "a mythic embodiment of some vital aspect of our own being," and notes that their best works "tell you something about yourself that is still being told when all the punchlines have become familiar." I can't put it any better than that.
The influence of the Brothers is apparent in nearly everything I've done, and I've often paid overt tribute to them.
I spent over five years researching, reconstructing, and adapting I'll Say She Is, the lost musical of 1924 which was the Broadway debut of the Marx Brothers. My adaptation of I'll Say She Is was presented as a staged reading at Marxfest, and then in an historic, sold-out run at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. This was the first production of I'll Say She Is since the original closed, ninety years ago. I played the role of Groucho Marx in both the Marxfest and Fringe Festival, to much acclaim. I'll Say She Is will return in 2016.
I have a long history of playing Groucho, on and off the stage. In addition to I'll Say She Is, my Groucho performance credits include Groucho on the Air, Music of the Marx Brothers at 54 Below, and George Bettinger's Mom and Pop Shop radio show.
Susan Kathryn Hefti, of the 93rd Street Beautification Association, has named me as the group's Official Marx Brothers Historian. For years I've worked on behalf of the Association's cause, to have the Brothers' childhood home declared an official New York City landmark. My short film fantasia The Brothers was created for the 93rd Street group, and was originally screened at one of their events in 2010.
"Tillo Marx," my Marxist interpretation of The New Yorker mascot Eustace Tilly, was printed in the magazine's 85th anniversary issue. A print of "Tillo" resides in the personal collection of Miriam Marx, Groucho's daughter, and I'm as proud of that as anything else I've achieved.