How “The Music of the Marx Brothers” Revolutionized American Comedy


The next concert at the Bremen Museum is going in vaudeville with the original comedy brothers. This Sunday afternoon will present “The Music of the Marx Brothers”.

In addition to hearing the songs of Marx Brother, the program will also explore their comedic heritage. The musical will also showcase how the Marx Brothers’ Jewish heritage impacted their artistry and take on comedy. The Breman Museum presented this show as part of its “Molly Blank Concert” series.

The series highlights Jewish contributions to music, such as the Marx Brothers. City Lights host Lois Reitzes spoke to Flying Carpet Theater manager Adam Koplan and music director Greg Sudmeier to discuss the performance.

“I didn’t know much about the Marx Brothers before creating this piece,” Koplan continues.

The Marx Brothers were the first comedy act in a great American film to make sound and they ran for ten years as the first comedy act in the 1930s. The crucible that made Marx Brother a name familiar was American vaudeville. Most vaudeville comedies were ethnic humor, and the brothers often faced a lot of anti-Semitic comments while on tour.

“Groucho Marx was at a country club in California and he was about to step into the pool. As he went upstairs, a member of staff pulled the sleeve of his shirt and said, “Sir, you cannot come in, the pool has an anti-Jewish policy.” And so Groucho without missing a beat said, “Well, my daughter is only half Jewish, can she go up to her knees?” Koplan said.

The Marx Brothers have combated anti-Semitism with humor throughout their careers. In doing so, their classic films shattered the glass ceiling of future comedians.

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