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Daily Dose of Doozy #6: There Ain't No Sanity Clause: the Marx Brothers


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#1 Rejana Raj

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Posted 11 October 2016 - 06:36 AM

The definition as said by Alan Dale fits perfectly for this scene. The Marx Brothers are excellent comedians with amazing calibre in verbal comedy. I feel that Groucho Marx is well known among his brothers as the "Man with Wits" and he outshines very well in his acts. The characteristics gags in this scene is the contract which amplifies their verbal humor at the great extend. They even goes to a point where they says that they can't even see the contract. I feel that this scene is exaggerated with the presence of contract. It is ritualistic as they go on tearing the contract in pieces till the last piece in their hands. Finally, it is a make believe as they are talking about contract when they don't even know anything about it.

#2 MysterWright

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 07:19 PM

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?

Oh yeah, they verbally slap each other with a stick clear across the room.

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?

The play on words banter between the two before ripping the contract to shreds is a clear example because you can't fool Chico there ain't no sanity clause.

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?

Repetitive ripping up the contract and stating party of what part, where. That and the painful jokes. They'll split your side if you're not careful.
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#3 MagdaK83

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 04:49 PM

The Marx Brothers were the masters of fun and joke! In this gag we saw how smart they were even in verbal slapstick! I really found it hilarious and extremely smart what they did! Fun through language can be too hard and yet so joyful!



#4 rajmct01

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 12:02 AM

Seeing this clip again made me see how long it was--maybe too long. The funniest line is "there's no sanity clause."

#5 Katrina

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 05:54 AM

First of all I do enjoy the Marx brothers.  

 

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?  I think that Alan Dale's definition fits the Marx brothers perfectly.  As if he wrote the definition for verbal slapstick just for their brand of comedy.

 

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?  The witty banter used by Groucho and Chico is classic.  Its funny and direct with out being rude or crude like today's humor.  The way they tear up the contract as they read each clause, until ultimately Chico declares there is no sanity clause hits the nail on the head!

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?  It depends on the movie.  This question is to broad and would require further discussion according to each movie in question.  However, any or all of the five conditions can be present during verbal slapstick.

1) you might have a point with that. I don't know when the book was written but I think that a definition like that probably came from the study of the best of the genre so why wouldn't it be based, primarily, on them. 



#6 cpelfrey

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 08:29 AM

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?

They're masters of slapstick, and perhaps the best I've ever seen. They use the physical and verbal forms of slapstick that are incredibly famous and watchable today. Their work is timeless. 

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?

 

Chico always relies on the silly ( but crafty) Italian immigrant, which in itself is ironic because they"re Jewish. And Groucho tries to play straight, but is really the one driving the show. He  also thinks he's being crafty, but in the end Chico gets the last laugh. 

 

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?

 

Exaggerated: Not being able to see/hear/read the contract. Costumes. Ripping of contract.

 

Physical, lesser here, but exaggerated tearing up of contract and Groucho's sarcasm with Chico's feigned inability to read and laughter. 

 

Repeitive: Dual contract tearing

 

Make believe: The whole scene is silly 

 

Painful/violent: Not so much here.


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#7 pumatamer

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 06:49 PM

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies? The Marx brothers use exaggerated/physical/repetitive as the catalyst for comedy in the scene and it works brilliantly. The best use was through repetitive phrases meant to confuse and humor the viewer!

#8 fediukc1991

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 04:42 PM

Dale defined The Marx Brothers well done. The Marx Brothers were known for the one liners they said plus slang and all all of the above. There was a mispronunciation and one - liners in the clip. It is hilarious to watch Groucho and Chico doing the gag. It never gets old. I think make believe is one of the elements that is not in use of verbal slapstick in the movies.



#9 Charlie's Girl

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 04:13 PM

I'm thinking that A Hard Day's Night was very much in the Marx Brothers tradition.  The sight gags, the verbal banter -- the Beatles got it down pat.   :)


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#10 Jenneferf

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 03:44 PM

First of all I do enjoy the Marx brothers.  

 

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?  I think that Alan Dale's definition fits the Marx brothers perfectly.  As if he wrote the definition for verbal slapstick just for their brand of comedy.

 

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?  The witty banter used by Groucho and Chico is classic.  Its funny and direct with out being rude or crude like today's humor.  The way they tear up the contract as they read each clause, until ultimately Chico declares there is no sanity clause hits the nail on the head!

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?  It depends on the movie.  This question is to broad and would require further discussion according to each movie in question.  However, any or all of the five conditions can be present during verbal slapstick.


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#11 Jenneferf

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 03:44 PM

First of all I do enjoy the Marx brothers.  

 

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?  I think that Alan Dale's definition fits the Marx brothers perfectly.  As if he wrote the definition for verbal slapstick just for their brand of comedy.

 

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?  The witty banter used by Groucho and Chico is classic.  Its funny and direct with out being rude or crude like today's humor.  The way they tear up the contract as they read each clause, until ultimately Chico declares there is no sanity clause hits the nail on the head!

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?  It depends on the movie.  This question is to broad and would require further discussion according to each movie in question.  However, any or all of the five conditions can be present during verbal slapstick.



#12 felipe1912t

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Posted 18 September 2016 - 12:49 PM

Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fits perfectly on this clip of Marx Brothers. Of course not all the characteristics are there, but a great part of it. The whole scene is based on the verbal talking here presented: no violence, no physical. Slapstick is evolving in front of our eyes.

 

Some of the present characteristics are: sarcasm, the comeback that that turns the first speaker's words around, pun, a little bit of slang, mispronunciation and double entrendre. As a native portuguese speaker some of these characteristics can be more difficult to identify, but they are all there.

 

For me, exaggeration is the condition that remains operative in verbal slapstick. We can even make a brief analogy with the use of voice and the other four conditions, but what's pretty clear is the exaggeration one.


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#13 Desilu19x

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 08:07 PM

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?

Dale’s definition was made for the Marx Brothers, and from the moment they attempt to read the contract, the definition falls beautifully into place

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?

What is most notable and most hysterical, at least in my point of view, is their use of double entrendres, my favorite being the end bit where Chico asks Groucho about the clause in which Groucho reads and responds;

Groucho: “if any of the parties participating in this contract is shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified”

Chico: Well I don’t know

Groucho: It’s alright, that’s in every contract! That’s what they call a sanity clause!  

Chico: You can’t fool me there ain’t no sanity clause!

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?

All of these conditions can be pointed out in verbal comedy, mainly though, the two that can be most noted is exaggeration and repetitive/ritualistic.
 


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#14 Jeff Netto

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 12:45 PM

It's not too much of a stretch to accommodate all five of our characteristics of silent slapstick within Dale's description of the varieties of verbal slapstick.

 

Exaggeration -- Sure enough. Speed, volume, verbosity. The thickness of an accent. There are lots of humorous exaggerations possible in verbal delivery.

 

Physical comedy -- Sure enough. The mouth of the comedian might contort humorously over the pronunciation of a term, the body may sway or jerk over the course of a line's delivery as the rhythm or emphasis of a word or phrase is physically enacted during pronunciation. The physicality of uttering speech provides lots of opportunities for humor.

 

Repetitive or ritualistic gags -- Lots .of parts of parties. These get funnier and funnier as the contractual ritual unfolds. My favorite, moment of ritualistic verbal humor in this film comes when Groucho keeps asking for two, no three eggs in the stateroom scene.

 

 

Make Believe -- Sure enough. The verbal lunacy of sound-era slapstick often highlights the genre's departure from any sort of realism. The simple fact that straight-men and straight-women listen to these gags and try to make sense of them is hilarious. Mr. Driftwood's zany approach to sweet-talking Mrs. Claypool out of her fortune could never come close to succeeding in the real world. But in the world of this film. this kooky seduction is allowed to continue, and it's hilarious.

 

Violence -- Sure enough. There are all kinds of verbal violence, insults and lies being only the most straightforward violations of decorum and truth. And Otis Driftwood manages to get a lot of comic mileage out of this type of verbal violence. But this clip showcases another, less straightforward kind of verbal violence, a violence directed against language itself. In the reading of the contract, its terms are verbally chopped and chewed even as the written text is literally shredded. The climax of this violence against language is the punning malapropism at the end: Sanity Clause. You can't a-fool me. There ain't a-no Sanity Claus.

 

We wince from the sting of this verbal violence, even as we crack up.


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#15 TexasGoose

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 09:42 AM

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?

 

I believe the definition fits very well when used to describe The Marx Brothers. Panel member Bgeorgeteacher wrote "Dale's definition of verbal slapstick feels as though it were built around the Marx brothers.  The verbal comedy, the words, the scenes,..... they all hit the viewer at breakneck speed.  This isn't the type of movie that you can watch passively.  Your brain must be alert and completely focused on what is being seen, what is being said.... or you might just miss something." Could not say it better than that.

 

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?

 

Both Groucho and Chico start pointing out things in the contract they don't like, each in turn rip a clause out until the only piece left is the end of the gag clearly showing the repetitive and physical part of the gag. Chico's accent, the mutual combacks at each other and Groucho's sarcasm are all verbal slapstick. I laughed outloud watching the clip.

 

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?

 

There is nothing painful/violent. Only 4 of 5 used.


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#16 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 08:10 AM

The Marx brothers, for me, have always been a stroke of pure genius.  Every time I watch a film, I find that I am slapping myself in the head, simply in awe of the cleverness, the verbal barrage of words, the silent humor.  For me, these are the quintessential perfect films!

 

1)  Dale's definition of verbal slapstick feels as though it were built around the Marx brothers.  The verbal comedy, the words, the scenes,..... they all hit the viewer at breakneck speed.  This isn't the type of movie that you can watch passively.  Your brain must be alert and completely focused on what is being seen, what is being said.... or you might just miss something.

 

2)  There are the mispronouncing of names/words, one-liners, sarcasm, comebacks, everything!  Yes, the comedic slapstick verbal gags are all there.

 

3)  I think in verbal slapstick, we continue to see elements of slapstick, particularly the exaggeration and repetitive areas.  "The party of the first part..."  How many times does the viewer hear this, but yet it continues to be funny.  And exaggeration?  Most certainly!  Ripping up a contract until it reaches the very end is truly an element of exaggeration.  


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#17 D'Arcy

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 12:01 AM

The Marx Brothers are the omnipotent verbal slapstick comedians of all time. Wow, Dales definition has helped link for me the silent era slapstick to the booming new talkie films. I have always wondered why they had to talk so dang much. Because now they can. I see now the slapstick transition perfectly clear. Now their words do a lot of the work, LOL!!! I have always just watched these films never really analyzed them before. They make me feel better with whatever ails me my whole life. Guess this time the gags on me!!!
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#18 T-Newton

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Posted 16 September 2016 - 03:20 PM

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?

 

My response: Perfectly, especially in the cases of both Groucho, who is the undisputed king of snark, sarcasm, and snappy comebacks, and Chico, who pretty much rolls along with both him and their silent partner Harpo. 

 

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?

 

My response: As they go through the contract in the scene, both Groucho and Chico start pointing out things in the contract they don't like, and they rip it out and throw it away, and they continue to do so until there's only a strip of it left, which is, as they state, something that's in every contract, which is bare bones. Each time they come to a clause neither can agree on, the words they speak are turned around. I can also identify some of the sarcasm, obviously from Groucho, and various one-liners here and there.

 

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?

 

My response: All of 'em.



#19 sunny2155

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 10:30 PM

1.  I think Dale’s definition fits the verbal slapstick of the Marx Brothers perfectly. In this particular clip, it seems to me that Groucho and Chico use almost, if not all, of the characteristics of verbal slapstick listed by Dale. The Marx Brothers were masters at verbal and physical slapstick. In this clip, their back and forth is so quick and so well done that you have to pay close attention to catch all of the elements of verbal slapstick that Dale describes.

 

2. The characteristics I could make out the clearest were the way they turn each other’s words around, use one-liners, puns, slang, mispronunciations, foreign accents.

 

3  I think all five of the visual slapstick comedy elements are present.



#20 Thief12

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 08:32 PM

Well, this is another instance where I don't think I've seen a film from the comedians involved; in this case, the Marx Brothers.

 

In this case, I think Alan Dale's definition fits perfectly with the clip. Like Dr. Edwards says in the DDoD, "nearly every variant of verbal slapstick" is present. Both Groucho and Chico go at each other with their verbal arsenal, each trying to top the other. Aside of the ripping of the contract, there's little physicality involved, because the key is the dialogue.

 

In terms of specific "characteristic gags", I kinda liked the one where Groucho says "if my arms were a little longer, I could read it. You haven't got a baboon in your pocket, have you?". Chico's comeback with the "first party of the second part", and whatnot, was also pretty funny.

 

As for the five conditions of slapstick, the ripping of the contract is obviously exaggerated, physical, and make-believe. Its repetitiveness might fit the ritualistic trait, but again, the violence is pretty much non-existent. Although Groucho does seem to get exasperated by Chico a few times. Also, I don't have the context clear but it seems to me that Groucho is trying to pull something tricky with the contract, which might be seen as "violent".


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