A story about Groucho and Chico Marx, passed along by N.Y. Times columnist Dick Cavett and called “Luck in the Afternoon.” If I described it as “hilarious,” a certain percentage would go “not funny enough.” (By the way, the anecdote about meeting anti-Semitism with claims of half-Jewishness is funnier with that Barry Goldwater joke about asking an anti-Semitic golf course manager if he could play nine holes, etc.)
Update: CHUD correspondent Devin Faraci just pointed out that it’s a “Times Select” piece, so I’m going to risk the wrath of Times Online staffers by pasting it here:
February 15, 2007, 7:44 pm
Luck in the Afternoon
Groucho stories, even if you’ve heard them, are still good. Like the well-known story of his daughter and the restricted country club pool. Groucho: “But my daughter’s only half-Jewish. Can she go in up to her waist?”
I have a particular fondness for the one I’m about to tell you, partly because I got it directly from Groucho. I may have told it in the 1982 documentary, “The Marx Brothers in a Nutshell.”
The setting is vaudeville. The young Marx brothers had barely heard of movies and were rollicking around the country as big stage stars and enjoying the fruits of fame, one being its proven effectiveness as an aphrodisiac. “You know my brother’s name is often mispronounced,” Groucho would say. “My uncle [Al Shean] who named us all pronounced it Chicko because of my brother’s monumental success with `chicks.’ He was catnip to all women. And we were opposites in other ways, too.”
They were playing somewhere in Iowa. One night while they were removing their makeup, there was a knock at the dressing room door and a middle-aged Jewish couple came in. After effusive compliments on the boys’ act, the husband said, “We know you boys are Jewish, and we thought you might like to come to our house on Friday night for a traditional Jewish dinner.” The invitation was accepted.
On Wednesday, Groucho and Chico were out strolling, and Chico, with his genius for numbers (and lack of it for gambling), noticed a house address. He said, “Isn’t that the number of those nice people’s house?” It was, and it was the house. They decided to pay a call.
They rang the bell and an attractive girl appeared. As luck (or something) would have it, there were the couple’s two pretty daughters. The parents were out.
Groucho: “Thanks to Chico’s skills in this area, in two shakes of a lamb’s tail we were out of our clothes and in bed with the two daughters. Balancing Chico’s great luck in getting us there, his ill luck dealt the next card. The bedroom door opened and there were the parents.
“Chico was more accustomed to this sort of predicament than I was, so I followed his example — which was grabbing up our clothes and high-tailing it out the window. Fortunately, we were on the ground floor. In any case, the penultimate thing the parents saw were our two buck-naked rear ends disappearing over the window sill. The ultimate thing they saw was Chico’s head reappearing momentarily, saying, ‘I hope this doesn’t affect Friday night.'”