Famous Comedy Team Started in East Texas


On September 25, 1916, a performance took place by The Four Nightingales — made up of siblings that became known as The Marx Brothers — at an opera house in Nacogdoches (still standing) in which an unplanned interruption resulted in the group switching from a musical to a comedic act.

The story goes that after their performance began, a man ran into the theater and announced that a mule had gotten loose and was disrupting the streets outside. The audience exited to see the disturbance.

Once they returned, the brothers made some off-the-cuff sarcastic remarks that wound up to be more memorable than their stilted music and dramatic readings. In fact, one brother even ad-libbed “Nacogdoches is full of roaches” in one song, supposedly because he could not think of another word that rhymed with Nacogdoches.

Later, the famed Marx Brothers referred to the city again in perhaps their most famous movie, Duck Soup (1933),  by naming a fictionalized land Freedonia [sic] after the region Fredonia that predated the city of Nacogdoches.

Date and year of this performance are debated, but one movie historian suggests this specific month, date, and year.

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