Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Episode 38: Help-a Those Kids (featuring Hannah Mira)

School and schoolteachers are a recurring theme in the Marx Brothers' work, from their earliest vaudeville comedy (Fun in Hi Skule), to the zenith of their Hollywood years (Horse Feathers), to the professorial quizmaster of You Bet Your Life and the childhood memoirist of Harpo Speaks. On this episode, our special guest is a real live teacher, who has used the Brothers' films as a curriculum for students in extraordinary circumstances. We say this every month, I know, but this is a good one.

Hannah Mira
Hannah Mira

Official description: "And now for something completely different...

"After relating our first impressions of the Marxes from way back when, we are joined by educator Hannah Mira, who details her fascinating story of screening Marx Brothers (and other classic) films to incarcerated teenagers, and their surprisingly positive response to them.

"A lifelong Marx fan, Hannah uses the brothers’ antics not only as entertainment, but also as a springboard to introspection. We learn what the most popular gags and scenes are with her students, as well as whom their favorite brother is (spoiler: it ain’t Zeppo). Hannah also tells of a surprising encounter with a Harpo painting.

"Of course, we are on our best behavior with a teacher present, but still find time for a few spitball fights."

Hannah says: "If listeners want to help at-risk youth stay out of juvenile hall / jail, please have them visit Homeboy Industries. It is the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program on the planet and the work they do is incredible. Donations and volunteers are always needed. The headquarters is in Los Angeles but they have outreach around the world."

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Here's the Harpo painting discussed by Hannah in the episode:


  1. I was in the 7th and 8th grade in the 70s, and kids then knew who the Marx Brothers were, but I'd also talk about Edgar Kennedy, Leon Errol, Monogram Pictures, and Two-Color Technicolor. One or two kids knew who Kennedy and Errol were.

  2. I didn't realize there was another Marx Brothers Council episode (I'm so hit and miss about many things I like), but when I saw that it was called "Help-a Those Kids", I almost skipped over, thinking it was going to be about Go West. But I didn't skip over it, and I am glad. An excellent podcast with a superb guest star.

    As for when I started liking The Brothers, I was maybe ten or eleven, and it was my Dad who recommended I watch Go West (believe it or not) and there was just enough funny stuff in there to make me check them out again, and that next time was either Horse Feathers or The Coconuts, and I was hooked. My Dad also introduced me to W. C. Fields, but it took another year for me to warm up to Fields. But when I finally "got" him, again, I was hooked. My Dad was always showing me comedies, my Mom was showing creepy movies (she introduced me to Psycho) and one of my brothers got me hooked on Cagney, Bogart and all the gangster movies. Anyway, wonderful podcast!


Episode 50: The Gods Look Down and Laugh (Our Animal Crackers Deep Dive featuring Heidi Gassel)

Not every Marx Brothers fan would name  Animal Crackers  when asked which film is their favorite, but as it happens, all three of your hosts...