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The Marx Brothers
Marxology - Mr Gallagher and Mr Shean


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Mr Gallagher and Mr Shean


Ed Gallagher and uncle Al Shean

The imitations done by the Marxes in the Theatrical Agency-skit was changed over the years in various performances of On The Balcony and I'll Say She Is, alternating between the stuttering comedian Joe Frisco and their uncle Al Shean and his partner Ed Gallagher. According to Glenn Mitchell in The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia, this was intended to satirize a popular trend, for in 1921 Gallagher and Shean impressionists had proliferated to the point where Keith's Circuit issued an edict limiting such impersonations to one per night. As cousins of Al Shean, the young Hamburg sisters of The New York Wonder Kiddies reportedly had the only rights to sing the original verses of Mr Gallagher and Mr Shean as they were used in the Follies.

Al Shean, born Adolph Schönberg and younger brother of the Marx Brothers' mother Minnie, was together with Edward Gallagher one of most famous male teams in Vaudeville. Their popularity was based on the strength of the self named song Mr Gallagher and Mr Shean. It was introduced in 1921 and was the hit number of the Ziegfeld Follies of 1922. Gallagher and Shean's signature costumes came from the Follies number which was set in Egypt, reflecting the "Egyptian craze" of the early 1920s that was also evident in early I'll Say She Is-numbers like In The Sheik's Tent and The Wonderful Nile. Gallagher and Shean supposedly never sang the song the same way twice. In the 1960s, Groucho did an update of the song with Jackie Gleason, Mr. Gleason and Mr. Marx.


For some time, Gallagher and Shean was also a daily comic strip with the dialogue designed as a verse of the song.

Lyrics and Music by Al Shean and Ed Gallagher

intro
There are two funny men
The best I've ever seen
One is Mr. Gallagher, the other's Mr. Shean
When these two cronies meet
It surely is a treat
For the things they say and the things they do
And the funny way they greet

Shean Oh Mister Gallagher, Mister Gallagher
When you get home you'll get a great surprise
When your ship is drawing near
it will make you shed a tear
to see the lights of New York shining in the sky

Gallagher Oh Mr Shean, Mr Shean
I have made that trip so I know just what you mean
But there's one that shines so bright
it's the brightest one in sight
Shean Statue of Liberty, Mr Gallagher?
Gallagher Coney Island, Mr. Shean!

Shean Oh, Mr. Gallagher. Oh, Mister Gallagher!
It's a long time now yet since you went away
You and I have been such pals
especially with the gals
and we missed you, oh we missed you every day
Gallagher Oh Mr. Shean. Oh Mr. Shean!
I've been away to school, that's why I've not been seen
The school taught Memory
and I took the first degree
Shean Name the school please Mr. Gallagher
Gallagher I forget it Mr. Shean!

Shean Oh, Mr. Gallagher! Oh, Mister Gallagher!
Gallagher Hello, what's on your mind this morning, Mr. Shean?
Shean Everybody's making fun
of the way our country's run
All the papers say we'll soon live European
Gallagher Why, Mr. Shean. Why, Mr. Shean!
On the day they took away our old canteen
Cost of living went so high
That it's cheaper now to die
Shean Oh, that's silly Mr. Gallagher!
Gallagher Absolutely, Mr. Shean!

Shean Oh, Mr. Gallagher. Oh, Mr. Gallagher!
If you're a friend of mine you'll lend me a couple of bucks!
I'm so broke and badly bent
I haven't got a cent
I'm so clean you'd think that I was washed in Lux!
Gallagher Oh, Mr. Shean. Oh, Mr. Shean!
Do you mean to say you haven't got a bean?
Mark my word as I'm alive
I intended touching you for five!
Shean Oh I thank you Mr. Gallagher!
Gallagher You are welcome, Mr. Shean!

Shean Oh Mr. Gallagher! Oh, Mr. Gallagher!
Once I think I saw you save a lady's life!
In a rowboat out to sea
You were a hero then to me
And I thought perhaps you'd make this girl your wife
Gallagher Oh, Mr. Shean! Oh, Mr. Shean!
As she sunk I dove down like a submarine!
Dragged her up upon the shore
Now she's mine for evermore
Shean Who, the lady Mr. Gallagher?
Gallagher No! The rowboat, Mr. Shean!

Shean Oh, Mr. Gallagher! Oh, Mr. Gallagher!
What's the name of the game they play upon the links?
With a stick they knock the ball
Where you can't find it at all?
And the caddie walks around and thinks and thinks?
Gallagher Oh, Mr. Shean! Oh, Mr. Shean!
You don't even know a hazard from a green
It's become a popular game
And you don't even know it's name
Shean Sure 'tis croquet, Mr. Gallagher?
Gallagher No! Lawn tennis, Mr. Shean!

Shean Oh, Mr. Gallagher! Oh, Mr. Gallagher!
I was wondering why did you come here alone?
You must have something on your mind
to leave your wife so far behind
she can't even reach you on the telephone
Gallagher Mr. Shean! Why Mr. Shean
I came here because she treated me so mean
Was your married life all right?
Shean Mine was fight,fight,fight!
Look at that black eye Mr. Gallagher!
Gallagher Look at this one, Mr. Shean!

Shean Oh, Mr. Gallagher, Oh, Mr. Gallagher
In New York the girls wear such alluring styles
At 42nd and Broadway
You could find me every day
I used to follow them for miles and miles
Gallagher Oh, Mr. Shean, Oh Mr. Shean
Here in Egypt they have styles I've never seen
All up and down the Nile
the girls wear nothing but a smile
Shean That's why I'm here, Mr. Gallagher!
Gallagher That's why I'm here, Mr. Shean!