At the Circus

You'll have to solve these clues to get full Marx.

When Alex Boisvert coordinated a puzzle series about Stevie Wonder, we were so pleased to get to be a part of it, first because we love Stevie, and second because we were thrilled to get to collaborate with Alex, a great guy and a clever puzzle mind. As deeply as we value collaborations, we can only fit so many into the schedule, but that prompt, plus that partner, plus Alex's then-new online solver for the Snake Charmer puzzle form all added up to the perfect storm.

As you might be suspecting, lightning struck twice. Alex's latest series at Crossword Nexus is about the Marx Brothers — viewing parties of whom jmsr hosted in high school and dadgum attended — and we worked with Alex to do something fun and a little different with the Crossword Nexus acrostic solver.

This is the appetizer before Word▶️'s biggest installment, out on Tuesday — an 80-clue folly that has to be solved to be believed — and then Word▶️ closes with one more crazy puzzle before we launch the much more normal* Out of Shape in September. We'll keep the free puzzles coming, too — thanks for showing up for this one, and we've got another free collaboration on the horizon we think you'll love.

Thanks again to Alex for the collab — he's actually on a brief hiatus, so we're publishing today's puzzle here. Thanks also to Andy Stilp and John Sams for the test solves.

* Note: Actually not more normal.

The illustration is the topic of this acrostic conversation, taken from the 1939 film At the Circus. Line (1), spoken by Whitcomb, and line (2), spoken by Dukesbury, appear in the grids above; line (3), spoken by Groucho’s J. Cheever Loophole, can be read in the first letters of the answers, enumerated (3,4,3,3? 7,1,4?). This is puzzle #10 in Crossword Nexus’ series on the films of the Marx Brothers.

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