Friday, August 12, 2022

Episode 49: Four Empty Dunces (featuring Brad Sohlo)

Yes, yes, in this fascinating discussion of the affinity between the Marx Brothers and the intellectual elite -- with an emphasis on Alexander Woollcott, and with the splendacious Woollcott expert Brad Sohlo as our guest -- we do talk a little bit about Susan Fleming Marx's recently-published memoir Speaking of Harpo. But just a little. We'll discuss it in more detail -- later! Meanwhile, make yourself a plate of popovers and celery and give this a listen, even though it's not immoral, illegal, or fattening.

Official description: "A look at the Marx Brothers' relationship with intellectuals, focusing on Harpo's friendship with writer Alexander Woollcott. Council member and Woollcott authority Brad Sohlo joins us to decipher just why sophisticates were attracted to the team...and not always vice versa.

"Brad explains why it was the carefree Harpo and not the well-read Groucho who was embraced by the Algonquin Round Table. We discuss what Woollcott and Harpo saw in each other and why their curious friendship endured.

"And if you're worried that the conversation may be too high-brow, don’t worry, we’re treated to typical ‘Harpo gets naked’ stories…"

Note for early birds: When a new episode is released, it might not appear at all of the locations below right away. If you visit your favorite podcast provider and the previous episode is still the most recent one you see there, be patient! And above all, don't worry.

Download an MP3 directly to your computer.

Stream the episode via Cast.

Listen and subscribe via Google Podcasts.

Listen and subscribe via Apple Podcasts.


  1. I'm just catching up on recent episodes and this run of shows dedicated first to Harpo and then Woolcott (well, much of it anyway) is so enjoyable - what a treat! I can happily read and reread the account of their friendship in Harpo Speaks! simply to exist in that world for awhile.

    Excellent as always - thank you!

  2. Great episode. I knew of the correspondence between Groucho and T.S.Eliot, but did you know that Groucho spoke at Eliot's funeral?

  3. I too enjoyed this episode. Especially timely since I just finished reading HARPO SPEAKS! Had never heard of Woolcott before (due to my ignorance of the time I guess) but have a friend who is similarly insufferable at times so can totally understand his relationship with Harpo. Friendship happens on many levels and is what brings us closer to others with certain relatable qualities. Not sure I'd go as far as to read the recommended Woolcott works (I'm a bit along in years to start digging there) but the episode filled in a good deal of background for me (especially regarding Groucho and why he wouldn't be so taken with the Algonquin crowd). Thanks all and keep up the great 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...