Thursday, January 19, 2012

Only Groucho Could Make Italian Cruise Ship Tragedy Seem Plausible

A captain, I was always told, is supposed to go down with his ship.

Or at least be the last man off.

But not Schettino.

Captain Francesco Schettino, of the now capsized Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, will likely go to prison for manslaughter for sharply deviating his course from the one chartered and running his ship aground. As you likely already know, the Captain was one of the first off the ship and into a lifeboat heading for shore.

So far eleven people are confirmed dead. A number at least double that are still missing.

This is no laughing matter. This is a tragedy.

But still, I can’t help but think, If only Groucho Marx were still alive to see this. There’d be a movie satire in the works for sure. But could it be as insane as what really happened?

We all heard the audio clip of a high ranking Italian Coast Guard officer and Captain Schettino.

But the audio recording sounds more like a scene from a Marx Brothers movie and Chico Marx – who always played the Italian peasant complete with an insulting accent - is playing now the Italian Captain. Groucho would be there in the background – unheard on the audio but he is giving the Captain his advice – his advice causing more harm than good.

It’s the only way any of Schettino’s story could possibly be plausible.

The scene opens as Captain Chico holding on to a walkie-talkie like handset – sitting in the row boat.

Harpo sits at the back of the boat rowing – but rowing them in circles – his arms rowing the oars in opposite directions.

Groucho clad in a rumpled tuxedo sits at the front of the boat, his feet up as he slouches back with a bottle of champagne in one hand, smoking his cigar in the other.

Just as Groucho would have written it …

Coast Guard Captain: (heard through the radio handset) “SCHETTINO! GET BACK ON THAT BOAT”,.

Groucho: (shakes his head and advises Captain Chico Schettino) – “Oh you don’t want to do that, the girls are waiting for us at the club”. He pauses thinking – eyes in the air - “Tell him it’s too dark”, takes another drag from the cigar and says “Tell him the boat already sank”.

I know, there are likely twenty eight people – perhaps more – who died in this tragedy. It is anything but funny.

But the gall of this Captain is incomprehensible.

He simply left.

When asked how he came to be in a lifeboat, he said he tripped and fell into it.

Groucho couldn’t make up a scene more insane than this.

It’s not funny. It is incredible. It is incredible in this day and age, with all the modern technologies to monitor the waters for depths and rocks and such, where the media is instantaneous – and cynical – that this imbecile thought every move he was making was the right one.

How would Groucho write the scene as the accident occurs? I think it would go something like this …

The scene opens as this flamboyant arrogant ass of a captain, Chico Schettino standing at the wheel, looking in a mirror to see that his curly hair properly flows out from under his captain’s hat, white gloves primping while depth monitor alarms ring and Harpo running around the deck honking the horn he keeps in the huge pockets of his first mate’s coat.

Groucho: (yelling) “Watch out!!”

Chico Schettino: “Relax-a, I do this all the time …”.

The whole crew on the bridge fall to the floor from the force of the impact.

Groucho: “Did you feel a bump”

Schettino: “It’s-a nothing, just a big wave-a”

Harpo: “Honk honk … Honk”

Schettino: “Let’s see what-a happened” and he leaves the bridge stepping out on the deck “Oops – I tripped-a and I fell into this life-a boat – quick help-a me out”

Groucho: “Okay – here take my hand – hey wait” and Groucho falls head over heels also into the boat “…. Ooof … oh great” and he gestures for Harpo to help them both out.

Harpo: “Honk Honk Honk” as he jumps right in the boat with them, and he pulls out a large pair of scissors that cuts the ropes holding up the life boat – the boat falls and splashed down into the waters below.

Schettino: “Oh-a great-a. “How am I gonna expain-a this?”

Groucho: “Just tell them the truth, oh wait, let’s not”.


Meanwhile, twenty people or more are fighting losing battles for their lives.


The inevitable trial to follow this fiasco will likely be just as incredible – as only Groucho could write it …

Groucho: “Your honor, my client is not responsible for his own actions, as he is suffering from the effects of imbecilicitis”.

Judge: “I beg your pardon?”

Groucho: (leaning into the judge) “Okay, you’re pardoned … now how about the same for my client ... you didn’t have to beg you know … but I like that you did … I like you too you know … those big blue just melt my heart …” as he shakes the ashes off his cigar raising his eyebrows – his eyes rolling far to the side – his painted on mustache hiding his glib smile.

Judge: (frustrated) “Excuse me?”

Groucho: (Yelling) “I said I like you too” (Normal voice as he turns to walk away from the bench) “Well if you’re gonna play hard to get … my heart already belongs to Lady Concordia – owner of this great ship and my heart” – pointing to the lady of high society.

Lady Concordia: (seated in the audience – blushing) “Oh my”

Two constables then drag Groucho out of the court room as he still puffs on the cigar and gestures his love to the Lady Concordia.

Captain Schettino: (On the Stand testifying in his own defense) “Schettino doesn’t deserve to go to a prison – it was an accident – oops”.


There is nothing funny about this tragedy. This guy needs to go to prison for a very long time.

Twenty or more people are dead. And twenty or more families now mourn the lives lost by one arrogant imbecile who somehow was deemed responsible enough to actually captain a cruise ship.

But the best punishment for this flamboyantly arrogant imbecile of an ass is to forever use his name to describe all the other flamboyantly arrogant imbecile asses.

They will forever now be known as Schettinos.

If only Groucho were still alive to see this.

I wonder how he’d write the prison scene?

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