Groucho Marx and Redd Foxx

Groucho Marx and Redd Foxx

Groucho Marx and Redd Foxx

starring Groucho Marx and Redd Foxx

MPI Home Video

Don’t get too excited, Redd and Groucho don’t appear onstage together, just on the same disk. MPI has dredged up a series of short 60’s video pieces called “One Man Show.” These were studio videos of comedians telling jokes in front of what appears to be exactly the same audience for every episode. Mr. Foxx made his name telling “party” jokes, but this is his clean stuff and by 1968 standards was pretty provocative. Today it feels pleasantly dated with race relations and stereotypes that even Chris Rock would avoid. While he gently needles both black and white stereotypes you can feel the potential for a back alley beating is never far from the surface. These shows date to just prior to “Sanford and Son” and have Redd at the peak of his form. Too bad he couldn’t pull out his “A” material.

Less entertaining is the second program. Sad to say, Groucho wasn’t very funny. Obviously old and in ill health, his material feels dry and mechanical, and only rarely does he hit the timing we all love. Worse, one of the segments has a deservedly unremembered comedian (Allen Abel) performing a rather tedious routine about clothing animals for decency’s sake. Later Groucho takes audience questions, but has a great deal of trouble hearing them, not that they are very good to start with. There is a bonus track; it may be the highlight of the material. Groucho plays Hugo T Hackenbush in an old vaudeville routine with eight dancers in short skirts and a song that sounds suspiciously like “Hurray for Captain Spaulding.”

While this disk is entertaining, it’s Redd Foxx that makes it worth getting. Groucho was at his best before “The Big Store”, and unless you found “You Bet Your Life” hilarious, I’d watch Redd Foxx twice, and keep Groucho a fond memory.

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