Monday, March 7, 2011

Ultrasonic Remote/Observational Epidemiology cage match?

OK, maybe not, but I do have a quibble Brian's otherwise excellent observations:
One of the members of the ART [Algonquin Round Table] was Harpo Marx, one of the few members that not only didn't write, but left school early. When asked why he, a member of a comedy team that many of the members might have considered lowbrow, was a member, he replied, "Well, they needed someone to listen."
Rather than considering them lowbrow, the ART was pretty much packed with the brothers' friends and admirers. Herman Mankiewicz produced their best films, Alexander Wolcott's reviews made them stars, and as for Kaufman, here's a relevant anecdote from Dick Cavett:

In the years I was lucky enough to know Groucho, there was one trait of the elderly that I, at least, never experienced in him. The one where you have to pretend to be hearing an oft-told joke or story for the first — rather than the seventh or eighth — time.

With one exception. Kaufman had known and written for the Brothers Marx — the original Fab Four (then three) — and Groucho worshipped him.

It went: ‘Did I ever tell you the greatest compliment I ever got?”

I said no the first time and, also, the four or five times thereafter over the years. I can hear Groucho’s familiar soft voice in my mind’s ear: “The greatest compliment I ever got was from George S. Kaufman.” I expected a joke.

“George said to me once, ‘Groucho, you’re the only actor I’d ever allow to ad-lib in something I wrote.’ And that’s the greatest compliment I ever got.” (Each time, he teared slightly.)

I loved hearing this treasured story repeated. It was no trouble pretending to hear it for the first time.

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