Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Feasts of Saint Marcel and Saint Chico

This week we have two Comedist celebrations. It was the anniversary of the birth of Marcel Marceau. We will honor him with the usual moment of silence...

(extra credit if you name the film he spoke in)

It is also the birthday of Leonard Marx, better known as Chico. On the evening when the brothers were playing poker and the nicknames were created, the thing that most stood out about Chico was his unrelenting pursuit of the chicks and thus "Chico" would be name henceforth.

Always the gambler, Chico would play with the money he made from the act. Sometimes he won huge amounts and would be very generous with his winnings; but as happens, he was often broke. Groucho was the financially conservative one in the family and invested in stocks, always saving his money. Whenever Chico was busted, he always knew to go to Groucho who would bail him out after a lecture...until 1929. When the stock market crashed, Groucho lost everything -- years of savings, a fortune wiped out. Despondent, he looked up to see Chico walking in after a VERY good night at the table. With an ironic lecture about looking after one's money, Chico bailed out Groucho.

The con-man aspect went beyond the gambling table, though. Chico was a very talented talented piano player before they were film stars, he would work evenings in bars playing for the customers. He would often double book himself in order to bring in more money for the family and get Harpo to fill in at one of the gigs -- out of costume they could pass for each other. The only problem was that Harpo only knew a couple of songs that he would play over and over and get them both fired.

On screen, Chico was best in rapid fire pun-trading with Groucho. A few of my favorites:

From Animal Crackers,

Groucho: What do you get an hour?
Chico: For playing, we get-a ten dollars an hour.
Groucho: I see. What do you get for not playing?
Chico: Twelve dollars an hour. Now for rehearsing we make special rates. That's-a fifteen dollars an hour.
Groucho: And what do you get for not rehearsing?
Chico: You couldn't afford it. You see, if we don't rehearse, and if we don't-a play, that runs into money.

From Duck Soup,
Minister of Finance: We'll have to raise taxes.
Chico: Hey, I got an uncle who lives in taxes.
Minister: No I mean taxes, dollars.
Chico: That's where he lives, dollars, taxes.

My absolute favorite, from A Night At the Opera,
Chico: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here, this thing a-here?
Groucho: Oh, that? Oh, that's the usual clause, that's in every contract. That just says if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.
Chico: Well, I don't know...
Groucho: It's all right. That's in every contract. That's what they call a sanity clause.
Chico: Ha-ha-ha! You can't fool me. There ain't a-no Sanity Clause!

Live, love, and laugh

Irrevend Steve