Comedy Quiz (1947 - 56)
It's a good chance that everyone who knows about old time
radio knows about Groucho Marx and You Bet Your Life.
If I said what dropped down with the secret word, you'd
say "Duck." Of course, that wasn't on radio that
you saw the duck.
everything else from the TV show was first developed for
the old time radio show, and the saga of the show's development and
rise in popularity is rich indeed. John Dunning's great
the Air, The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio details
it in depth, but suffice it to say that Groucho Marx didn't want
to do it, the radio brass didn't think it would work, and
the only reason it got on the air was a man named John Guedel.
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"I figured he'd be great working with people out of
an audience," Guedel recounted. "When people were
being funny, Groucho could be the perfect straight man,
when the people played it straight, Groucho couldn't miss
with his own comedy." Sometimes, even the obvious has
to be proved. The studio brass were unsure. Groucho himself
had to be convinced it would work, and he had tried much
more hair-brained schemes to make a buck in his films. Just
ask Rufus T. Firefly. And everybody knew the man could deliver
a line when it was written, and he had a lightning wit.
Could it work live on radio with an audience hanging on
every word, with rank amateurs playing along?
George Fenneman was Groucho Marx Master of Ceremonies, with Mike Wallace doing the commercials for Elgin-American. The
contestants were absolutely real audience members, but the
show's staff would pair r them in a novel or interesting
way, such as by occupation, opposites in age, etc. And the
talk was absolutely spontaneous, although the show was edited
to keep the best lines. Was Groucho's great career in showbiz
dedicated to being brash and getting off great lines? You
Bet Your Life!
See also Groucho Marx Collection. See also: Better Half, Vox Pop, People are Funny, The Game Show Collection, Guess Who, Twenty Questions,It
Pays to Be Ignorant, Quiz Kids, and Information