Download Groucho and W.C. Fields: Huckster comedians by Wes D. Gehring PDF

By Wes D. Gehring

Sooner than Groucho Marx and W.C. Fields, comedy was once blameless. when they left their hilarious smudges at the style, it used to be something yet. Groucho Marx the leering, wise-cracking, pseudo-intellectual (c.1890-1977) with his brothers Chico, Harpo, Gummo, and Zeppo, first played on Broadway in 1924 and took it by means of typhoon within the Coconuts (1925) and extra memorably Animal Crackers (1928) which used to be filmed the next yr. relocating to Hollywood with the appearance of "talkies" for such classics as Monkey enterprise (1931), Duck Soup (1933) and an evening on the Opera (1935), Groucho constructed his personal hilarious model of farce poking enjoyable at conference and confronting audiences with a wealth of double-entendres. W.C. Fields "..never act with canines or children!" (1879-1946) begun his level lifestyles as a juggler at the vaudeville circuit. by way of his early 20s he was once already a top-billed megastar who played along the popular Ziegfield Follies on Broadway. His first movie used to be Pool Sharks (1915) however it used to be his visual appeal in D.W. Griffith's Sally of the Sawdust (1925) which verified him in Hollywood on the rather overdue age of forty six. this can be a tribute to the pair and the artwork of filmflam comedy with either Groucho and Fields printed as trail-blazers who dared go away from the trails laid down by means of the comedy of innocence.

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Additional info for Groucho and W.C. Fields: Huckster comedians

Example text

Interestingly, the physical violence visited upon Mrs. Porter is often reversed in the later antihero world, where milquetoast husband after husband cowers before the wife who dominates him and who is frequently made all the more comically threatening by wielding a tree-trunk-sized rolling pin. It should be added, moreover, that sometimes the seemingly vulnerable character of the crackerbarrel world, such as Twain's Huck Finn, still manages to get across basic axioms of wisdom. Humor historian Norris Yates has labeled such figures as examples of the "wise fool": the humorous writers frequently made the country-store philosopher expound unwelcome truths behind a protective mask of character deficiency or linguistic, logical or factual error.

Be that as it may, a close reading of his Autobiography still reveals the occasional huckster tendency, just sanitized by way of the good cause-such as young Franklin's way out of an abusive apprenticeship to his brother, or the politically wise elder Franklin raising money for a hospital. In the latter case he observed, like the proud Yankee he was, "I do not remember any of my political maneuvers. . . I more easily excused myself for having made use of cunning" (114). An important nineteenth-century slant on the period popularity of the huckster is also lost in today's more democratic times.

An additional case for the huckster uniqueness of this Thorpe essay is the setting that it shares with Melville's later, all-important The Confidence-Man. Both works open on a Mississippi riverboat bound for New Orleans, with the promise of a colorful passenger list. Though this is a connection one might make between many works of the period, Thorpe's piece (while decidedly more upbeat than Melville's) has a world-of-the-con-artist aura about it distinctly prescient of the later novel. And despite the modest length of Thorpe's essay, it includes additional bits and pieces that further prefigure Melville's book.

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