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Happy Birthday Groucho!

GrouchoToday, October 2, is the birthday of Julius Henry Marx, better known as Groucho. He is 116 years old, or at least he would be if he hadn’t died in 1977.

There’s just no point in trying to crack jokes when writing about Groucho, because the effort only reminds you how much funnier he was. You can read two hilarious interviews with him from his later years on Roger Ebert’s website, one from 1970 and the other from 1972. They were probably the  easiest things Ebert ever wrote, consisting almost entirely of transcriptions interrupted by the occasional note explaining who the person is that just walked in the room to be insulted.

Celebrate the day by watching Duck Soup, the funniest Marx Brothers movie, and therefore a prime candidate for the funniest movie ever made. (Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that A Night at the Opera is funnier.) Or, if you’re stuck at work and surfing the net, consider   this dip into ocean of memorable Groucho quotes and insults (my favorites from a much longer list at Wikiquote):

• I have nothing but respect for you, and not much of that.

• Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.

• Ever since they found out that Lassie was a boy, the public has believed the worst about Hollywood.

• Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

• Whatever it is, I’m against it!

• I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived.

• You’ve got the brain of a four-year-old boy, and I’ll bet he was glad to get rid of it.

• Why, I’d horse-whip you if I had a horse.

• I bet your father spent the first year of your life throwing rocks at the stork.

• Do infants have as much fun in infancy as adults do in adultery?

• I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions — the curtain was up.

• I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.

• I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.

• My mother loved children. She would have given anything if I had been one.

• Now, there’s a man with an open mind. You can feel the breeze from here.

• The secret of success is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake those, you’ve got it made.

• Whoever named it necking was a poor judge of anatomy.

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