The Marx Brothers began their comedy career with ad-lib remarks while on the vaudeville circuit in 1912. “Nacogdoches is full of roaches” declared Groucho Marx during the routine. Nacogdoches now has a plaque commemorating the event.
For other Texas-related Marx Brothers gags, see “The jackass is the finest flower of Texass” and “Dollars, Taxes” (Dallas, Texas).
Nacogdoches (pronounced [ˌnæːkə̆ˈdoʊtʃɪs]) is a city in Nacogdoches County, Texas, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 29,914. It is the county seat of Nacogdoches County and is situated in East Texas.
In 1912, the Marx Brothers came to town to perform their singing act at the old Opera House. Their performance was interrupted by a man who came inside shouting, “Runaway mule!” Most of the audience left the building, apparently thinking a runaway mule would provide better entertainment. When they filed back in, Julius (later known as Groucho) began insulting them, saying “Nacogdoches is full of roaches!” and “The jackass is the flower of Tex-ass!” Instead of becoming angry, audience members laughed. Soon afterward, Julius and his brothers decided to try their hand at comedy instead of singing, at which they had barely managed to scrape together a living. A historic plaque commemorating the event is posted in downtown Nacogdoches.
Wikipedia: Marx Brothers
All the brothers and their real names were as follows:
Stage name Actual name Born Died
Manfred January 1886 July 17, 1886 (died in infancy)
Chico Leonard March 22, 1887 October 11, 1961
Harpo Adolph (after 1911: Arthur) November 23, 1888 September 28, 1964
Groucho Julius Henry October 2, 1890 August 19, 1977
Gummo Milton October 23, 1892 April 21, 1977
Zeppo Herbert February 25, 1901 November 30, 1979
One evening in 1912, a performance at the Opera House in Nacogdoches, Texas was interrupted by shouts from outside about a runaway mule. The audience hurried outside to see what was happening (thinking a runaway mule was better entertainment). When they returned, Groucho, infuriated by the interruption, made snide comments about the people, such as “Nacogdoches is full of roaches” and “The jackass is the flower of Tex-ass”. But instead of becoming angry, the audience laughed. Afterward, the family began to consider the possibility that they had potential as a comic troupe.
9 July 1950, Long Beach (CA) Independent, “Marx Bros. Star in Crichton Work” by George Eres, pg. 37A, col. 3:
THEY WERE IN some turkeys in their days. It wasn’t until they began improvising and acting upon the stage that they found themselves. It started when the Marxes were doing a show in Texas and the audience walked out to see a mule which had died.
They were infuriated that a dead mule could draw more of an audience than they. The audience tired of viewing the mule and returned to their seats. The show resumed and Groucho added some lines of his own to the effect that
Is full of roaches.”
Harpo was running up and down in front of the audience wiggling his fingers at his nose...Groucho was singing mechanically and racking his brain for more insults. At the next break in the number he came forth with
is the finest
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, March 20, 2007 • Permalink