The wit and humor of Groucho Marx

The wit and humor of Groucho Marx

Julius Henry Marx (1890 – 1977), known professionally as Groucho Marx, was an American writer, comedian, stage, film, radio, and television star.

Regarded as one of the best comedians of the modern era, Groucho made 13 feature films with his brothers, Harpo Marx and Chico Marx. He was the host of the radio and television comedy show You Bet Your Life (1947 - 1961.) Groucho glasses, the mask with horn-rimmed glasses, large plastic nose, bushy eyebrows, and mustache, was inspired by his distinctive, exaggerated appearance.

Born and raised in Manhattan, New York, Groucho performed on the stage as a boy singer with the Gene Leroy Trio, making his debut at the Ramona Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1905. In 1909, Groucho and his brothers formed a troupe and traveled across the U.S. to perform. After a cheerless performance in Texas, he and his brothers began cracking jokes ad-lib onstage for their own amusement. The audience liked them better as comedians than as singers - and from that point on, the brothers began to put more emphasis on comedy. The Marx Brothers were on their way to stardom. 

They took some of their Broadway hits, such as The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, and made successful comedy movies. They stardom was not just limited to the U.S. The British rock band Queen named two of their albums after Marx Brothers films - A Night at the Opera (1975) and A Day at the Races (1976.)

Here are some of his timeless words.

Insults and comebacks

  • I never forget a face, but in your case, I'll be glad to make an exception.
  • I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.
  • He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot, but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot.
  • You're just wasting your breath, and that's no great loss either.
  • From the moment I picked your book up until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
  • Now there's a man with an open mind - you can feel the breeze from here.
  • I could dance with you till the cows come home, on second thought I'll dance with the cows till you come home.
  • If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.
  • Here's to our wives and girlfriends...may they never meet!
  • Be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out.
  • He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot.
  • A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.
  • I have nothing but respect for you -- and not much of that.
  • She got her looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon.


  • Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.  Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
  • I would never belong to a club that would have me as a member.
  • When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun.'
  • Patience is the art of finding something else to do.
  • There's one way to find out if a man is honest - ask him. If he says, 'Yes,' you know he is a crook.
  • I find television very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
  • If we had some eggs we could have eggs and ham, if we had some ham.
  • You'll be hearing from my lawyer as soon as he graduates from law school!
  • Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
  • What have future generations ever done for us?
  • I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat animals who are.
  • Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others.
  • I'm going to Iowa for an award. Then I'm appearing at Carnegie Hall, it's sold out. Then I'm sailing to France to be honored by the French government - I'd give it all up for one erection.
  • Sir, are you trying to offer me a bribe? How much?
  • While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.
  • Budget: a way of going broke methodically
  • You've got a goal in life. I've got a goal. Now, all we need is a football team.
  • I'd like to meet the person who invented sex and see what they're working on now.
  • Some people claim that marriage interferes with romance. There's no doubt about it. 
  • The Arab and the camel are inseparable. It's been said that an Arab would give up his wife rather than give up his camel. Personally, I haven't got a camel, but I think it's a great idea.
  • If women dressed for men, the stores wouldn't sell much - just an occasional sun visor.
  • You are going Uruguay, and I'm going my way
  • I'm not crazy about reality, but it's still the only place to get a decent meal.
  • Remember, there's nothing like Liberty, except Colliers and The Saturday Evening Post.
  • I've got the brain of a four-year-old. I'll bet he was glad to be rid of it.
  • I remember the first time I had sex - I kept the receipt.
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of bandages and adhesive tape.
  • Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.
  • Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

Thoughts on romance and marriage

  • Women should be obscene and not heard.
  • The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his checkbook open.
  • How do you feel about women's rights?  I like either side of them. 
  • Politics doesn't make strange bedfellows, marriage does.
  • Paying alimony is like feeding hay to a dead horse.
  • Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.
  • Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?
  • I wish you'd keep my hands to yourself.
  • Anytime you have a romance, your wife is bound to interfere.
  • I've met a lot of pin-up girls, but I've never been able to pin one down
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