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Old 02-16-2013, 09:03 PM   #1
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The three stooges

It's Saturday morning again, a special day for my 10-year-old son. First, a leisurely breakfast with actual fried meat (bacon or sausage) and grilled carbohydrate (pancakes or waffles). Then -- best of all -- an hour or two (depending upon parental tolerance) of The Three Stooges on an obscure cable channel that broadcasts the episodes one after another all morning.

Like much of pop culture, the stooges now have a learned following that takes them far more seriously than they did themselves. (Here's an example.)

But there is something interesting there. The constant subverting of authority figures, the triumph of well-meaning buffoons, the punning wisdom of fools -- it's wonderful stuff for a 10-year-old who spends his week at school learning long division.

I'm old enough to recall when the stooges shorts were on the movie screen at the Saturday afternoon matinee before the main feature came on (and when you carried the quarter that the movie cost in your mitten, plus a dime for candy, so you wouldn't lose your money on the way there.) Maybe it's a boy thing, but I found them exhilarating. No superheroes, just ordinary schmucks doing their best to get by, and ultimately prevailing.
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:23 PM   #2
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Equally as good: many of the old Abbott and Costello flicks.

When I was younger, TBS would show these on Saturday mornings, followed by Tarzan movies at noon.
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:41 PM   #3
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Equally as good: many of the old Abbott and Costello flicks.
At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, they have the "Who's on first" routine on endless loop. I could not get the kid to leave.
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:52 PM   #4
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B-A-Bay,
B-E-Bee,
B-I-Bicky-Bi,
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B-U-Bu,
Bicky-Bi-Bo-Bu.

Curly's a dope!
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:58 PM   #5
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More seriously, I was recently contemplating the loss of the "straight man" in comedy: Bud Abbott, Dean Martin, and even Bob Newhart and John Cleese, who do excellent straight men but both are funny when the roles called for it.

But then I remembered the Stooges and Laurel and Hardy. Perhaps comedy hasn't always had straight men but you sure don't see many anymore.
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:11 PM   #6
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Equally as good: many of the old Abbott and Costello flicks.
Abbott and Costello were much better, IMO. And Laurel and Hardy were brilliant. But perhaps not as much as the Stooges to a ten year old.
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:15 PM   #7
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Equally as good: many of the old Abbott and Costello flicks.

When I was younger, TBS would show these on Saturday mornings, followed by Tarzan movies at noon.
Yes! I was a fan of those when I was 8 - 10 years old. I didn't discover the true joy of The Three Stooges until I was in my 20's. Nyuk nyuk nyuk!
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:33 PM   #8
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Abbott and Costello were much better, IMO. And Laurel and Hardy were brilliant. But perhaps not as much as the Stooges to a ten year old.
That's my point. Laurel and Hardy, and to some extent Abbot and Costello, are for adults. It's the liberating anarchy of the three stooges that appeals to the 10-year-old who spends most of his day being told what to do by others.

The Marx Brothers have that quality, too, especially the anarchic Duck Soup. (Groucho claimed Margaret Dumont never knew what they were doing was satire, which is pitch-perfect, really)
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Old 02-17-2013, 12:39 AM   #9
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Well, I think it's an interesting discussion.

But--to unfortunately belabor the point--I brought up A & C because in most of their movies, they're trying to make their way in an adult world and failing tragically, but in funny ways. As you said: "...just ordinary schmucks doing their best to get by, and ultimately prevailing."

I think in that respect they are quite similar to the Stooges. There was just a little more plot...and a little more of an attention requirement.

Also, both involved attractive, intelligent women who should have been out of their league...
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Old 02-17-2013, 12:54 AM   #10
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That's my point. Laurel and Hardy, and to some extent Abbot and Costello, are for adults. It's the liberating anarchy of the three stooges that appeals to the 10-year-old who spends most of his day being told what to do by others.

The Marx Brothers have that quality, too, especially the anarchic Duck Soup. (Groucho claimed Margaret Dumont never knew what they were doing was satire, which is pitch-perfect, really)
Yep. Totally agree, though the Marx Brothers may fall in between the Stooges and A & C in that regard. But all of those acts were brilliant in their own way.

I like the idea of "liberating anarchy," because it's not simply physical humor that's the difference. Harold Lloyd's humor was mostly physical but, I believe, way more appealing to an adult than that of the Stooges.


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Well, I think it's an interesting discussion.

But--to unfortunately belabor the point--I brought up A & C because in most of their movies, they're trying to make their way in an adult world and failing tragically, but in funny ways. As you said: "...just ordinary schmucks doing their best to get by, and ultimately prevailing."

I think in that respect they are quite similar to the Stooges. There was just a little more plot...and a little more of an attention requirement.

Also, both involved attractive, intelligent women who should have been out of their league...
Except that A & C were clever. With clever bits and clever lines. The Stooges were, well, stooges. It's not that I don't appreciate it. I do, and I'm pretty much a little boy too when I'm not being very, very old, but it seemed funnier when I was younger. You know, back when they were first making those films.
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:02 AM   #11
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Except that A & C were clever. With clever bits and clever lines. The Stooges were, well, stooges. It's not that I don't appreciate it. I do, and I'm pretty much a little boy too when I'm not being very, very old, but it seemed funnier when I was younger. You know, back when they were first making those films.
I assumed you had only heard them on the radio...or as you might say, the "wireless."
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:03 AM   #12
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Except that A & C were clever. With clever bits and clever lines. The Stooges were, well, stooges.
Hence the additional attention requirement.
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:17 AM   #13
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I assumed you had only heard them on the radio...or as you might say, the "wireless."
Well, vaudeville first, of course....

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Hence the additional attention requirement.
For sure. But I get Chris' point too. The Stooges have no attention requirement. Which is one of the reasons they were so successful.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:09 AM   #14
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The best philosophical take I've seen on the Stooges is from the Church of the Sub-Genius, believe it or not. I saved it in my quote file:

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There are three kinds of people -- I call them Larrys, Curlys, and Moes. The Larrys don't even know that there are three types; if they're told, it's an abstraction, because they cannot imagine anything beyond Larry-ness. The Curlys know about it, and recognize the pecking order, but find ways of living with it cheerfully...for they are the imaginative, creative ones. The Moes not only know about it, but exploit and perpetuate it.

The naive, pleasant believers of all kinds are Larrys -- ineffectual, well-meaning do-gooders destined always to be victims, often without once guessing their status. Like sheep, they don't want to hear the unpleasant legends about "the slaughterhouse"; they /trust/ the strange two-legged beings who feed them. The artists, unsung scientific geniuses, political writers, and earnest disciples of the stranger cults are Curlys -- engaging, original, accident-prone but full of life, intuitively aware of the Moe forces plotting against them and trying to fight back. They can never defeat the Moes, however, without BECOMING Moes, which is impossible for a true Curly.

The Moes, then, are the fanatics, the ranters, the cult gurus, the Uri Gellers AND the Debunkers; they are the Resistance Leaders and the Ruling Class Bankers. They hate each other, but only because they want to control ALL the Larrys and Curlys themselves....Larrys and Curlys die in wars started by rival Moes -- the Larrys willingly, the Curlys with great regret.
Not sure what context that was written in -- or even if context makes sense when referencing the Church of the Sub-Genius -- but I always thought it was a great insight.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:19 AM   #15
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I thought the Stooges were hysterical when I was 14.

But then I turned 15.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:19 PM   #16
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Like much of pop culture, the stooges now have a learned following that takes them far more seriously than they did themselves. (Here's an example.)
Back in the 1990s I was browsing the shelves at a local college bookstore and saw a book that featured a scholarly analysis of the Three Stooges films. I can't remember if the book was a complete monograph or if the Stooges piece was just an academic article in an edited collection, but I really got a kick out of seeing it.

And of course it's widely known that legendary French cultural theorist Michel Foucault always shaved his head in honor of Curly.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:25 PM   #17
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Yes! I was a fan of those when I was 8 - 10 years old. I didn't discover the true joy of The Three Stooges until I was in my 20's. Nyuk nyuk nyuk!
I watched the Three Stooges a lot when I was in elementary school. The local UHF channel had a four-star weekday afternoon lineup: The Three Stooges, the Little Rascals, and the cartoon shows "Kimba the White Lion" and "Speed Racer". I couldn't wait to get home from school, so I could turn on the TV and get the party started!
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:18 AM   #18
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I once wrote an article about how influencial The 3 Stooges, Looney Tunes and the Tex Avery cartoons may have been on how the baby boomer generation rebelled to society.

The stooges are basically outsiders, drifters. Society puts them down, yet they bring down the establishment from within, showing them how ridiculous the whole thing is.

It's interesting to notice how fundamental money is in The 3 Stooges.
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:34 AM   #19
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When I was a freshman in college, I had a tall Latvian living across from me. He and I were talking one day, and I mentioned something about The 3 Stooges in passing. He looked at me puzzled and said with his thick accent, "Stoojes? What is stoojes?" I said, "You've never heard of The 3 Stooges?" He shook his head no, almost ashamed that he was so innocent of American culture. I told him to sit down, and I put on a DVD. The entire time, he sat inches away from the TV set and didn't make a sound. I thought maybe he didn't like them, and when it finished, he looked up at me like a little kid and asked all excited, "Please, Ryan, can we watch again, please?" I said sure and he glued himself to it. After this round, he asked me to please wait there with the stoojes, and after about fifteen minutes he came back. This time he had what had to be the majority of foreign students on campus. There were students from Romania, Muldova, Vietnam, and more, all his friends, every one of them huddling around my TV watching The 3 "Stoojes" and loving every second of it.

To The Stooges! Masters of cultural exchange!

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Old 08-31-2013, 06:11 PM   #20
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It's Saturday morning again, my 10-year-old is up, the Stooges are on, and bacon is frying. Life is good.
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:54 AM   #21
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I thought the Three Stooges were awful even when I was a kid.

Nothing has happened to change that opinion. I'd watch Laurel and Hardy, and W.C. Fields, and the Marx Brothers any day before being subjected to the Howard Family.

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Old 09-02-2013, 07:33 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColoradoGuy View Post
It's Saturday morning again, my 10-year-old is up, the Stooges are on, and bacon is frying. Life is good.
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
I thought the Three Stooges were awful even when I was a kid.

Nothing has happened to change that opinion. I'd watch Laurel and Hardy, and W.C. Fields, and the Marx Brothers any day before being subjected to the Howard Family.

caw
Yeah. I don't disagree, blacbird. But sometimes stupid silly can make a ten year old laugh. There's value in that.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:06 AM   #23
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I thought the Three Stooges were awful even when I was a kid.
I never liked the stooges much when I was a kid. When I was a little older I liked them even less.

But I caught them on TV on a marathon a few weeks ago and I was transfixed. I thought they were hysterical. They embodied a type of surrealism was so odd that it went beyond simple comedy into an inspired lunacy. The Marx brothers did the same thing of course, but their lunacy was always grounded in some sort of reality.

It wasn't so much that I found them funny as that I found them fascinating. I couldn't stop watching. It was the oddest thing I've ever seen. Maybe kids like them because they inhabit a world that doesn't exist in adult reality.

Maybe the Stooges know exactly what they were doing. Maybe they didn't, maybe they just thought they were funny. Either way they created something to my mind totally unique.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:26 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
I thought the Three Stooges were awful even when I was a kid.

Nothing has happened to change that opinion. I'd watch Laurel and Hardy, and W.C. Fields, and the Marx Brothers any day before being subjected to the Howard Family.
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When I was a kid I enjoyed the Marx Brothers' clever wordplay every bit as much as i enjoyed the Three Stooges' slapstick antics. The Marx family and the Howard/Fine/Howard axis appealed to different sides of my personality, I guess.
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:45 AM   #25
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It wasn't so much that I found them funny as that I found them fascinating. I couldn't stop watching. It was the oddest thing I've ever seen. Maybe kids like them because they inhabit a world that doesn't exist in adult reality.
As I said upthread, I think it's the liberating anarchy. The closest the Marx brothers came to that would be Duck Soup, which is total chaos.
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