What About Those Three Stooges?
By Janet Stoica
Are the Three Stooges relevant anymore? I say Yes! and we need their ridiculous slapstick antics now more than ever. They are silly and frivolous and it’s just what we all need to take our minds off the everyday grind. After doing a non-scientific poll of 20 and 30 year olds, I have found that even these age groups are aware of who these three prolific physical-comedy clowns are. Brothers Moe and Curly Howard as well as Larry Fine can still bring a smile to our faces. Moe and Larry’s superior roles to the third Stooge never waver. The third Stooge was played by four different comedians. The original third wheel was Shemp Howard (Moe’s brother) then brother Curly Howard (my personal favorite) followed by Joe Besser and finally “Curly Joe” DeRita. I was forced to grow up with the trio of Moe, Larry, and Curly. I say forced because it seemed that my older brother always controlled the TV selections on Saturday morning. Most of the time I enjoyed these comedy brethren as much as he did but as I grew older and into my 20’s my disdain for their silly humor became very real. I saw how much my boyfriends bonded with my brother if they happened to be surfing through TV channels together watching football, basketball, or baseball games. If the Three Stooges suddenly appeared, the channel switching would stop and their howls of laughter would begin as Moe poked Larry’s eyes while proclaiming “Why I Oughtta”……or twisted Curly’s nose or conked them over the heads with the loudest sound effects. It made me think how juvenile they all were and what a boy/man thing the Stooges were.
In my 30’s my eyes would roll back if I walked into the living room to see the guys hooting and laughing at Moe, Larry, and Curly. The slapstick antics were absurd, ridiculous, and so very stupid I thought to myself. How can these guys even watch this stuff? I wondered why or how the Three Stooges could enthrall adult men into behaving like children with their silly laughter but now I think I understand. Who doesn’t want to be transported back to the days of their childhood when life was simpler and you could watch these inane dopes pull punches on each other? The Stooges’ levels of intelligence were in descending order of Moe, Larry, and Curly. Moe was the brains of the group with Larry and Curly distant followers in the common sense department. What was so funny about being clanged over the head with a cast-iron frying pan, hit in the butt with a baseball bat, or poked and punched? Maybe it’s because these actions are what we’d really like to do to someone sometimes but know it’ll never happen so it’s enjoyable to watch these beloved numbskulls do such things to themselves.
I guess even as kids we knew these bursts of injury-producing acting were fake but they sure did make us laugh. I think we thanked our family genes that we were not as stupid as the Three Stooges were to each other. We could feel superior to their dumb jokes and jabs at each other. Their reasonings and solutions to problems they encountered were very basic and juvenile. As our eight- and nine-year-old brains saw what was happening in these old black-and-white shows, we instinctively knew it was all bogus and we knew we would never be in those situations or ever encounter the types of people the Stooges met and interacted with. At an early age I do recall thinking how ridiculous they all were as I didn’t know any grownups who ever acted the way they did. It sure was fun while it lasted and I can still watch my three favorite Stooges in small doses but if I’m watching Moe, Larry, and Curly with a guy, look out! There seems to be a special and amusing attraction for males to be greatly fascinated by the Boys of Slapstick. It’s the bond of childhood memories that should never be broken. Nitwit, imbecile, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. Soitenly!
Contact Janet: [email protected]