The Marx Brothers in “Slap Happy!”

Andrew Fumento
28 min readOct 3, 2021

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Marx Brothers’ 1st Movie…

…the Now-Lost Silent Movie Humor Risk, Filmed in 1921…

…with an All-New Short Social Good Script…

Slap Happy!

The First Script Written for Them as a Team in Over 27,500 Days (75 Years)!

By

Andrew Fumento AKA Andrew Bailey

[Editor’s note: The script for Slap Happy appears below.]

Someone asked me if I could be an honorary Marx Brother, what name would I choose — I responded, “Dunno.”

My dad Rocco was a film and writing professor who taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (from where I would later graduate). I was his youngest “student” ever when I attended his Thursday night film classes and screenings at age 10 — the same age my son Georgie is now. I grew up on the Marx Brothers, and as uncomfortable as that might have been, they never complained — neither did I.

The Marx Brothers — one of the greatest comedy teams ever featured (listed in order of birth) Chico, Harpo, and Groucho (who’s birthday just happens to be today, October 2 when I posted this — what are the odds?!) — along with Zeppo at the time — made their first movie, Humor Risk, in 1921.

Rumor has it that Humor Risk AKA Humorisk, was a 20-minute silent comedy film they financed themselves. Unfortunately they — especially Groucho — hated it and decided to burn the negative and any prints. They may have hated it because the film didn’t reflect any of their comedy personas.

The script was written by Jo Swerling, who later co-wrote the Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Rumor also has it that I named my son George “Georgie” Bailey after the lead character in that same film.

The Marx Brothers resumed their vaudeville act (think: variety show that can include comedy, music, dance as well as magic, puppets, acrobatics and trained animals).

--

--

Andrew Fumento

AKA Andrew Bailey… Dad / Copywriter / Broadcast Director / Author of more pro bono PSA scripts/campaigns than any person in the multiverse! andrewfumento.com