Groucho Marx: The Comedy of Existence

Written by:
Lee Siegel
Narrated by:
Joe Barrett

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
January 2016
4 hours 40 minutes
Born Julius Marx in 1890, the brilliant comic actor who would later be known as Groucho was the most verbal of the famed comedy team, the Marx Brothers, his broad slapstick portrayals elevated by ingenious wordplay and double entendre. In his spirited biography of this beloved American iconoclast, Lee Siegel views the life of Groucho through the lens of his work on stage, screen, and television. The author uncovers the roots of the performer's outrageous intellectual acuity and hilarious insolence toward convention and authority in Groucho's early upbringing and Marx family dynamics.

The first critical biography of Groucho Marx to approach his work analytically, this fascinating study draws unique connections between Groucho's comedy and his life, concentrating primarily on the brothers' classic films as a means of understanding and appreciating Julius the man. Unlike previous uncritical and mostly reverential biographies, Siegel's 'bio-commentary' makes a distinctive contribution to the field of Groucho studies by attempting to tell the story of his life in terms of his work and vice versa.
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Jeff S.

This work of Lee Siegel is an excellent break down of the comic evolution of the 3 main Marx brothers (Groucho, Harpo and Chico). The rugged upbringing of the 3 (Zeppo and Gummo had their trail blazed) gives an understandable context to the characters that emerge on the screen in the 1930s. Their antics are not that far removed from their personalities based on their experiences. Especially illuminating is the Groucho dominated theme of "Jewish self-deprecation" - which is sad and funny at the same time. While journeying through this book, I surfed YouTube and ran across an interview of Groucho with Dick Cavett. During the interview, Cavett informs Groucho that his former New York neighborhood has been torn down - at which Groucho immediately responds "That's not by coincidence." This is a worthy listen.

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