Walter Kerr? Groucho Marx? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Comedies rarely win prestigious awards. Critics are unaccountably hostile to works that make them guffaw. Groucho Marx once described a critic who laughed heartily and repeatedly during the performance of a play, yet crafted and published an excoriating newspaper review the next day using the barbed phrases “tasteless and tatterdemalion” and “very bad play”. Do you know the critic’s name?
Quote Investigator: Walter Kerr was an influential theater critic for the “New York Herald Tribune” in the 1950s and 1960s. After that newspaper closed he continued his efforts at “The New York Times”. In 1958 Kerr evaluated a comedy from Norman Barasch and Carroll Moore: 1
This is not so much a review as a confession. I spent a good part of an evening laughing at a very bad play—”Make A Million.”
. . . tawdry, tasteless, and tatterdemalion as the evening is, “Make A Million” is—as often as not—stubbornly funny.
. . . “Make A Million” isn’t respectable by any standards I can think of; but it does have an unexpected, and just about inexplicable funnybone.
Below are two additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1958 October 30, The Cincinnati Enquirer, This Is No Review; It’s a Confession by Walter Kerr, Quote Page 9B, Column 1 to 4, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Newspapers_com) ↩