The Duck Soup Manifesto

By:
jsind@sbcglobal.net
jonsindell.com

Join us on the set as Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Karl Marx rehearse their lines…

Groucho (in lovelorn fashion to corpulent, wealthy dowager): I can see you now, bending over a hot stove when I come home from work. But I can’t see the stove!

Dowager (batting eyelashes and smiling demurely): Do you really mean to suggest, Professor, that you wish to marry me?

Karl (enraged): Of course he would like to marry you, decadent capitalist pig! He has been indoctrinated by his overlords of the ruling class to believe in the decrepit bourgeois institution known as marriage as part of their cynical scheme to keep the masses from dedicating themselves to the collective good!

Harpo: (honks horn at Karl, goofily grinning)

Karl (to Harpo): And you, half-witted stooge of the ruling class, make light of the deprivations of the proletariat by affecting ragged attire to achieve a puerile comic effect!

Harpo: (flutters eyelids and leans lovingly into Karl)

Karl: Get off me, you stinking bum!

Harpo suddenly recalls that he has a smelly fish in his overcoat. He produces the fish by the tail, screws up his nose in disgust, tosses it aside, and places a clothespin on Karl’s nose.

Karl: Idiot! Are you too dense to comprehend that the proletariat can scarcely afford fish because the exploitation of the fisherman’s labor, which the capitalists call “profit,” renders the price of fish exorbitant? That’s an obscenely expensive sturgeon!

Chico: Atsa right. I hadda remove my whatchamacallit (points to abdomen), but the sturgeon was too expensive.

Karl (strikes his forehead with the flat of his hand): You ignoramus. Don’t you realize that the capitalists deliberately keep you uneducated so that you will remain unequipped to comprehend and overthrow the injustice of capitalism?

Chico: Well I dunno. The nun, she say I’m pretty good with my catechism.

Karl (red in the face): Capitalism, not catechism! Cap! Cap!

Harpo nods eagerly and sets a baseball cap on Karl’s head.

Karl (throwing the cap on the ground in disgust): I shall not wear a hat associated with a sport with which the American ruling class keep the proletariat diverted from their true purpose of uniting to overthrow the capitalist system.

Harpo allows the point to sink in, brightens, and sets a top hat on Karl’s head.

Karl (furiously removing top hat): Nor shall I don the ostentatious headwear of the plutocrats!

Groucho (musing): Well, I don’t know. At least it distracts from that baboon on your chin.

Karl: Baboon! I’ll have you know, dummkopf, that this beard was my constant companion as I toiled through the years in the British Museum Reading Room, formulating the labor theory of value. It sustained me through many a long, lonely, weary and, yes, hungry hour!

Harpo, using sleight of hand, extracts a hunk of cheese from Karl’s beard.

Karl: Keep your grubby paws to yourself, peasant! (turns to Groucho) This long beard, sir, is the sign of a superior intellect, of a man of great learning!

Groucho: You could’ve fooled me — I thought it was the sign of Rabbi Pinsk. Do you know Rabbi Pinsk, from Minsk?

Karl: Certainly not! Organized religion is the opiate of the masses!

Chico (shaking finger, smiling): Naw, you no fool me. Mass is for Catholics.

Harpo seizes Karl’s muffler and wraps it around his head like a nun’s headdress.

Karl: Thief! That’s my property!

Groucho (thoughtfully stroking chin): “Property is theft, property is theft.” Now where have I heard that line?

Karl (snatches muffler from Harpo): That does it! I’m through! Namesakes or not, you bourgeois boobs are nothing more than ignorant stooges of the ruling class, in mindless thrall to your capitalist masters! I leave you to chafe in your unseen chains! (Karl storms off the set)

Groucho (to his brothers): I thought he’d never leave. Where shall we eat, boys? The Brown Derby?

Harpo nods eagerly, and the three sons of poor immigrants race to the studio lot, where they enter their late-model American luxury cars and drive off to enjoy a gourmet meal of grilled sturgeon with a mushroom and thyme reduction.

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