The Great Brother Theodore, 1985
Brother Theodore (1906 -2001) was a German monologuist and comedian known for rambling, stream of consciousness dialogues which he called “stand up tragedy.”
He was born Theodore Gottlieb into a wealthy family in Düsseldorf, Germany, where his father was a magazine publisher. Theodore attended the University of Cologne. Under Nazi rule, he was imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp until he signed over his family’s fortune for one Reichsmark.
After being deported for chess hustling from Switzerland he went to Austria where Albert Einstein, a family friend, helped him escape to the United States. He worked as a janitor at Stanford University, a dockworker in San Francisco and played a bit part in Orson Welles’ The Stranger before moving to New York City.
Some things he said…
“I’ve gazed into the abyss and the abyss gazed into me, and neither of us liked what we saw.”
“The only thing that keeps me alive is the hope of dying young.”
“I should have known better than to sell roses in a fish market!”
“You can train a rat. Yes, if you work for hours and days and months and years, you can train a rat. But when you’re done, all you’ll have is a trained rat!”
“One day, David Letterman, one day my picture will be on every postage stamp…!”
“I’m looking for a rich widow of 13, the perfect portable mistress.”
“Her hair was of a dank yellow, and fell over her temples like sauerkraut, her face was sweaty like a chunk of rancid pork…”
“What this country needs, and I’m not joking, is a dictator. I feel the time is right, and the place congenial, and I am ready. I will be strict but just. Heads will roll, and corpses will swing from every lamppost.”
“Only what we have lost forever do we possess forever. Only when we have drunk from the river of darkness can we truly see. Only when our legs have rotted off can we truly dance. As long as there is death, there is hope”