American Philosophy – Groucho Marx
The Marx Brothers were early absurdists like Camus, comedians of the 20s and 30s whose work was formative for American comedy. Groucho Marx, the head of the group, was amazing with one liners that show a beautifully complex understanding of contradictions involving human pride and judgment, very much like Bierce.
The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.
There is one way to find out if a man is honest; ask him! If he says yes you know he’s crooked.
Why a four-year old child could understand this! Somebody find a four-year old child.
Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?
All people are born alike – except Republicans and Democrats.
I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.
Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?
Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.
Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.
After he was a successful movie star, Groucho was offered membership to a country club at a time when country clubs did not admit white Catholics and Jews. Groucho, who was Jewish, famously replied in a telegram, “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”
In one of his movies, in reply to an art critic who says, “Art is art”, Groucho says, “Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? …And east is east and west is west… and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know.”