Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Now, Dowager

She'd act matronly, playing a part 
But the haters won't say she was smart
Far from clueless old bag
Maggie knew from a gag
Playing "straight" for this lady was art.

Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont in At The Circus (Edward Buzzell; 1939). In a 1940 interview, Dumont said, "Scriptwriters build up to a laugh, but they don't allow any pause for it. That's where I come in. I ad lib—it doesn't matter what I say—just to kill a few seconds so you can enjoy the gag. I have to sense when the big laughs will come and fill in, or the audience will drown out the next gag with its own laughter. ... I'm not a stooge, I'm a straight lady. There's an art to playing straight. You must build up your man, but never top him, never steal the laughs from him." --Wikipedia

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