Friday, April 4, 2008

Why a Duck?

[In the Marx Bros. movie Cocoanuts, Groucho is Mr. Hammer, a swindler conducting a Florida land auction. Chico is an idiot savant he hires to make false bids to drive up land prices.]

HAMMER: Do you know what a lot is?
CHICO: Yeah, itsa too much.
HAMMER: I don't mean a whole lot. Just a little lot with nothing on it.
CHICO: Any time you gotta too much, you gotta whole lot. . .
HAMMER: Come here, Rand McNally and I'll explain this thing to you. Now look, this is a map and diagram of the whole Cocoanut section. . .Here's Cocoanut Manor. Here's Cocoanut Heights. That's a swamp; right over there where the road forks, that's Cocoanut Junction.
CHICO: Where have you got Cocoanut Custard?
HAMMER: Why, that's on the forks. You probably eat with your knife, so you wouldn't have to worry about that. . .Now, here's a little peninsula, and here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.
CHICO: Why a duck?
HAMMER: . . .I say, here is a little peninsula, and here's a viaduct leading over to the mainland.
CHICO: All right. Why a duck?
HAMMER: I'm not playing Ask-Me-Another. I say, that's a viaduct.
CHICO: All right. Why a duck? Why a--why a duck? Why-a-no-chicken?
HAMMER: I don't know why-a-no-chicken. I'm a stranger here myself. All I know is that it's a viaduct. You try to cross over there a chicken, and you'll find out why a duck. It's deep water, that's viaduct.
CHICO: That's why a duck?
HAMMER: Look! Suppose you were out horseback riding and you came to that stream and wanted to ford over there. You couldn't make it. Too deep.
CHICO: But what do you want with a Ford when you gotta horse?
HAMMER: I'm sorry the matter ever came up. All I know is that it's a viaduct.
CHICO: Now look. . .all righta. . .I catcha on to why0a-horse, why-a-chicken, why-a-this, why-a-that. I no catch on to why-a-duck.
HAMMER: I was only fooling. They're going to build a tunnel in the morning. Now, is that clear to you?
CHICO: Yes, everything---except why-a-duck. . .
HAMMER: And then, there's a little clearing there, a little clearing around it. You see that wire fence there?
CHICO: All right. Why-a-fence?
HAMMER: Oh no. We're not going to go all through that again!

BTW: The URL of this blog---that's "why a duck"!!!


Granny J said...

What's the date on that movie? It sure is a close cousin (and probable predecessor) to the famous who's on first base routine...

C. Marie Byars said...

The film was from 1929, but came almost entirely from their earlier stage production of The Cocoanuts, which opened in December, 1925. I think the Marx Brothers humor developed parallel to Abbot & Costello, but I don't think it was based ont their work.

chambilkethakur said...

funny. i like it.

Granny J said...

No, it's the other way around. The Marx Bros. preceded Abbot & Costello by a few years, I believe.