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Marx Brothers - Qualified Perceptions
Marx Brothers
Half of our Lyric group saw Animal Crackers at the Lyric last night. (The other half was sick or out of town or destroyed by the Red Line Disaster that apparently trapped people on a train outside of Davis for about two and a half hours); perhaps they will go later.

Having seen very little Marx Brothers other than the amount that seeps into you as part of American culture, it was interesting. Even an imitation Groucho was darned compelling to watch and listen to (and, having watched some bits of the movie on Youtube later, the Lyric version was more turned-up-to-11 than the real Groucho), and I enjoy physical comedy when it's clever, which it generally was. (Why were there only three brothers on the program cover? Buffy the Vampire Slayer has taught me that Zeppo is the one to ignore, but still... I didn't even realize he was supposed to be a Marx Brother until later.)

But... I don't get why "The gate swung open and a fig newton entered" is funny. It's clearly supposed to be, but it sails right over my head. I hate to have jokes explained, but it's going to be bugging me for days.
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From: desireearmfeldt Date: May 13th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happily, those of us destroyed by the Red Line disaster were not stuck on a train, but rather, standing about at Davis until we realized that we'd be at least half an hour late and the train still hadn't come. (For which I am grateful that visage showed up on the platform to point out the possibility of punting; otherwise I'd probably have autopiloted to the theatre despite it being a bad idea. Or at least stood around on the platform for longer.)

I don't know whether "the gate swung open and a fig newton entered" is supposed to be a reference to something in particular, or whether it's just random goofiness not meaning more than "that was an anticlimactic entrance."
shaggy_man From: shaggy_man Date: May 13th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always assumed that somewhere, there was a cliche where a gate swung open and a figure entered. Unfortunately, a fair amount of their humor is parodying material that would have been well-known at the time, but is forgotten now.
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From: desireearmfeldt Date: May 13th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
And in many of the movies, in fact, the straight man/romantic lead is someone other than Zeppo.
shaggy_man From: shaggy_man Date: May 14th, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
How many could "many" possibly be? Zeppo was only in the first five movie.

Besides, do you actually remember any of the other romantic leads? Foil though he was, there was nobody in any of those movies whose name was not "Dumont" who could hold a candle to Zeppo in that capacity.
ringrose From: ringrose Date: May 13th, 2011 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Google-fu pointed me at this:

I hadn't heard about the fig newton/oreo thing he mentions, but apparently at that time an oreo was slang for a black man who acted white, and a fig newton was a white man who acted black.
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