The MARX Brothers
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, Chico, and Zeppo Marx. I cannot express how much I love them.
Joe Adamson, the author of Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Sometimes Zeppo: A History of the Marx Brothers and a Satire of the Rest of the World, 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."
The influence of the Brothers is apparent in nearly everything I've done, and I've often paid overt tribute to them.
I spent 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 last seen in an acclaimed Off Broadway production at the Connelly Theater in 2016. Previously, it was presented as a staged reading at Marxfest, and then in an historic, sold-out run at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. I've played the role of Groucho Marx in every post-1925 incarnation of I'll Say She Is.
My book Gimme a Thrill: The Story of I'll Say She Is, the Lost Marx Brothers Musical, and How it Was Found was published in 2016 by BearManor Media. (You can read the first chapter for free before purchasing several copies for everyone you know.)
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 Wish You Were Here at the Jewish Museum; Groucho on the Air; Music of the Marx Brothers at 54 Below; George Bettinger's Mom and Pop Shop radio show; and numerous other theatrical and cabaret appearances.
I am a founding member of the Marxfest Committee, organizers and producers of the month-long Marxfest in New York City in 2014, and the Marx Brothers Weekend on Governors Island in 2017. Also in 2017, I was the featured guest speaker at Freedonia Marxonia, an annual Marx Brothers festival held in the town on Fredonia, New York.
My essay "Anatomy of a Moustache" appears in Matthew Coniam's excellent book That's Me, Groucho!
"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" resided in the personal collection of Miriam Marx!
You can hear me discuss Marxian matters every month, along with my co-hosts Matthew Coniam and Bob Gassel, on The Marx Brothers Council Podcast.
Bonus feature for die-hards only: