A Recitative Written By Groucho Marx


Groucho Marx wrote a recitative recited by himself during an intermission in Animal Crackers, a 1928 Broadway musical starring the Marx Brothers. This was his way to entertain the audience during an entr’acte. The verse was not officially included in the program and therefore, was uncredited.

It required a few minutes for a scene change so, during the waiting time, Captain Spaulding (played by Groucho) would perform the recitative in a deadpan manner with one foot on the stage and the other planted on a chair:

Did you ever sit and ponder as you walk along the strand,
That life’s a bitter battle at the best;
And if you only knew it and would lend a helping hand,
Then every man can meet the final test.
The world is but a stage, my friend,
And life is but a game;
And how you play is all that matters in the end.
For whether a man is right or wrong,
A woman gets the blame;
And your mother is your dog’s best friend.
Then up came mighty Casey and strode up to the bat,
And Sheridan was fifty miles away.
For it takes a heap of loving to make a home like that,
On the road where the flying fishes play.

Afterward, he would put down his foot and slowly remove the chair from the stage while saying, “So be a real-life Pagliacc’ and laugh, clown, laugh.” Groucho remarked that many in the audience would roar in laughter at this point, though others would instead applaud respectfully. “To them,” he said, “my recitation was a great piece of philosophy.”

Anyway, here’s one of the songs officially featured in Animal Crackers titled “Why am I so Romantic?”:



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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

5 thoughts on “A Recitative Written By Groucho Marx

  1. Wow, I had not read that in years. The Marx Brothers would use each night’s show audience as the template for a captivating movie. They did more research than any of the others and it always paid off. Groucho was the Brains and knew when to insert the laughs. He was a genius for the making humanity easy for humans. Great post Edmark.


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