My good friend and I were talking about things and the subject of “The Three Stooges” came up. (Note to self = Self, Girls seem to hate or not get the Stooges, Abbott and Costello and Firesign Theatre. Some get Monty Python but these are not regular women.) Mark Perry, a personal friend of mine is a huge Stooge fan and I grew up on Abbott and Costello. He asked me this question about the “Stooges, “How did all the shows start off with the Stooges well dressed living well in a nice apartment reading news papers and living a normal life?” I asked him what he meant. He then said, “If you look at them they are living the way people live. Then something happens to them. The chaos strikes and things go haywire. They are plastering themselves behind wall paper or building a house upside-down or some other crazy thing. I mean how do they start off so normal then let things get so out of hand?” I then added “Yeah, like Abbott and Costello. They always have money to gamble and always were dressed in hundred dollar suits. Then they have only a quarter for a ham sandwich and a cup of coffee? We had fun discussing this topic but when the fun ran its course I, being a student of comedy said “It was written that way” and ended it. (Footnote = my foot itches.) (Second note to self = Rob, you have been a student of comedy for over forty five years now, when are you going to get a job actually utilizing what you have learned?)
Something always bothered me about the Stooges. After Curly died, they tried Shemp again, I say again because he was really the original Stooge. When Shemp left the trio to make movies Moe’s younger brother stepped in, enter Curly (Jerome) Howard. Moe and Shemp were doing a duo before the Stooges and they saw Larry Feinstein sitting in the orchestra pit. His hair was usually slicked back and neat but in this instance he just washed it and it was frizzing up and Moe said “I have to have this guy in our act.” Now you have the original three stooges. As I said, Shemp left to do movies but things didn’t pan out well. Shemp only made ten or so and Curly with his full head of hair and his huge handle bar mustache tried out. The producers said he was a “no go.” Curly asked why and they told him he was normal looking for the Stooges. He then ran to the barber, had his hair shaved off along with his mustache and ran back to the producers. He was in like Flynn which is a story for another time. When Curly suffered from a stroke and passed away Shemp stepped back into the Stooge costume and made more short films with Moe and Larry. Ok, I get it, Shemp was the original Stooge but when he died, they got Joe Besser. Joe was the fifty year old man who acted like he was ten. That was his thing.
Back in the day of Vaudeville, all comics had a thing, a specialty. There were the Sneeze guy, the dumb blonde, the crier etc. Joe Besser was good at what he did. His catch fraise was “I’ll harm you.” He left the Stooges to move onto better things so in stepped Curly Joe Derita. He had nothing to offer other then be fat and bald like Curly was only he was just unfunny.
When I was younger I couldn’t understand but as I aged I knew what it was. When the drummer of the Who died things were not the same. When any act loses a member in any way things are not the same. We like originals and without the complete act it just won’t be the same.
I hope you liked this short bio of the Stooges. I am writing this from memory, so if I got my facts off by a smidgen, forgive me. I am sitting here typing this for you but my cigarette fell out of the ash tray. I bent down to pick it up but my head hit the print key. The printer started printing out copies of this article filling the room with paper. I made my way over to the kitchen to get the sink hose and tried to water down the paper making it a smaller pile. This only made the paper turn to a paste sticking me to my floor. I tried to run making two planks of the floor rip up and now I looked like I was wearing skis. I made my way to the front door opened it as far as I could and yelled for help. When I opened my mouth a passing bird laid an egg and it happened to fall into my mouth. Oh how did this happen. All l I wanted to do was write this silly article. Ladies and Gentlemen, My mother doesn’t thank you, my father doesn’t thank my sister doesn’t thank you but I thank you for taking the time out of your lives and reading this short piece of dribble. Hope I made you smile for at least a second and until next time, oops I dropped another cigarette.