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Born in Powell River, British Columbia, I briefly attended the University of British Columbia (as I recall it was on a bus tour). Since forming my first comedy troupe, Theatre of the Idiot, at seventeen, I have spent most of my time in the production of comedy in one form or another. I have worked as a stand-up comedian, sketch comedian, playwright, actor, director, producer, film and television writer, hosted a historical talk show and written a graphic novel series.
I am a longtime fan of Aristophanes and the Marx Brothers, and of all the cast in this book. (Well, most of them.) And of detective fiction for that matter. I couldn’t translate a passage of ancient Greek if you held a bow and arrow to my head. But I found if I read three of four translations of Aristophanes at once—the Father of Comedy and all that—I would write my own versions of jokes at which three or four academic translators were making brave stabs. Hence, the early stirrings of the Wagstaff Version.
The idea for Comedy Can Be Murder arrived in May/June of 2015, more than thirty years after I first began reading the plays. I got over a bit of my misgivings about not having a background in Classics each time I met the phrase, “Much of what we know about day to day life in ancient Greece comes from the plays of Aristophanes.”
“Well,” I thought, “I know four different versions of each of those. In for an obol, in for a drachma.”
Many introductions to the plays cite the similarity between the iconoclastic, irreverent, anti-authoritarian Aristophanes hero and the iconoclastic, irreverent, anti-authoritarian Groucho Marx. So it seemed fitting when—as Professor Wagstaff (Groucho’s character from the movie Horsefeathers)—he took on the translation/ interpretation of this found manuscript.
Soon, he was “playing the lead.” His brothers appeared soon after—trailing an international cast.
As the gods are my witnesses, I had no idea they were coming until they arrived!