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The Three Stooges, Are They Just a Guy Thing?

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jdb1

Postby jdb1 » November 6th, 2007, 1:13 pm

I think we had a long discussion of The Stooges back at TCM a few years ago.

First off, like so many other older films cheaply acquired by TV stations in the 1950s, The Stooges' shorts were presented as children's fare, and I don't think they are. They were certainly never intended originally for kids.

Second, I watched them on afterschool TV, as did most of my friends, but I don't think I never really got them until I was much older. These days I enjoy the shorts: the character of the three, the burlesque/vaudeville turns, the little throwaway lines. I don't love the hitting very much, but it's part of their shtick and I look on it as entertainment history, like the interaction in old cartoons. Nobody gets hurt for long, and everyone eventually fights back; then they just go about their business.

The Stooges are, I think a very urban phenomenon - their humor is very oldtime urban - and more to the point, oldtime urban Jewish (a lot of Yiddishisms fly by in what they say). This is mother's milk to us Brooklynites of a certain age, no matter what our ethnic makeup. Since I grew up in proximity to the area where the Howard brothers came from, The Stooges were a living presence to us. We knew people who knew them, or knew other of their relatives, etc. So for my set, The Stooges had Favorite Son status, even Larry, who came from Philadelphia. (Maybe especially Larry, because he looked like so many Brooklyn men of my youth.)

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Dewey1960
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Postby Dewey1960 » November 6th, 2007, 3:46 pm

Judith, thanks for your wonderfully astute comments regarding the Stooges. My first exposure to them, too, was on television in the late 50s. Living in a Jewish household in an urban milieu (Detroit), the humor seemed a natural, if not normal, extension of my imagined real life. The fact that Yiddish was spoken freely and frequently in our home added to the comfortable familiarity of the antics on screen; there was no doubting the boys were Jewish, which filled my friends and me with enormous pride! (They're actually one of us!) My mom didn't care for their humor at all, but never discouraged my brother or me from watching them. And it never occurred to me to emulate their behavior on the playground (or anywhere else!)

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Postby mrsl » November 6th, 2007, 4:59 pm

So basically you're saying you have to be Jewish to understand the stooges humor? Is that paramount to be black to understand black humor? Or Italian, or French, etc?

Dewey, I'm glad you never emulated them, but at 7 my oldest son kicked his younger brother as he bent over and my younger son went blank for a couple of seconds after landing on the top of his head. As with likes and dislikes, it takes all kinds.

Anne
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Postby MikeBSG » November 6th, 2007, 5:48 pm

To me, the Three Stooges and the Little Rascals were what I watched on TV because everything on the other channels was soap operas. Once a second UHF TV station opened up, I watched other stuff (Bugs Bunny, Ultraman, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Yogi Bear) and never really felt interested in revisiting the Stooges and Rascals. (Whereas I became a nut about Warner Bros. cartoons later on in life.)

Also, in the schools I went to, there was a lot of ugliness connected to whether you liked Curly or whether you liked Shemp. Real men liked Curly, and guys who liked Shemp (you can guess the rest.) And people were really serious about that, and I think that really helped kill off my interest in the Stooges

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Dewey1960
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Postby Dewey1960 » November 6th, 2007, 5:57 pm

Anne asked: So basically you're saying you have to be Jewish to understand the stooges humor?

Absolutely not, although being Jewish at times allowed one to enjoy certain subtle references in their otherwise not so subtle humor. The same with Lenny Bruce; his humor was often laced with Yiddish expressions which were hilarious and immediately laugh-inducing to Jewish people but entirely foreign to everyone else. Likewise, while white audiences can appreciate the hysterically pungent humor of, say, Richard Pryor or Dave Chappelle, it's always apparent that blacks in the audience "get" the humor on a much deeper and more real level.
But the Stooges are for everyone, or at least anyone willing to appreciate their particular brand of anarchy.

John: I loved Larry, too! I'm sure you were aware that he was an excellent violinist.

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » November 7th, 2007, 10:22 am

Dewey1960 wrote:Anne asked: So basically you're saying you have to be Jewish to understand the stooges humor?

Absolutely not, although being Jewish at times allowed one to enjoy certain subtle references in their otherwise not so subtle humor. The same with Lenny Bruce; his humor was often laced with Yiddish expressions which were hilarious and immediately laugh-inducing to Jewish people but entirely foreign to everyone else. Likewise, while white audiences can appreciate the hysterically pungent humor of, say, Richard Pryor or Dave Chappelle, it's always apparent that blacks in the audience "get" the humor on a much deeper and more real level.
But the Stooges are for everyone, or at least anyone willing to appreciate their particular brand of anarchy.

John: I loved Larry, too! I'm sure you were aware that he was an excellent violinist.


Anne, my comments about the nature of the Stooges' humor were meant in the same vein as Dewey's. I don't think anyone has to belong to any particular group to find something funny, but there will always be little "in" jokes here and there that are missed by some. That's the nature of comedy. There are many comics who talk about topics I know little about, and whatever they are saying goes right over my head - when I watch Britcoms, I don't get all the local references, but I enjoy them just the same.

In one Stooge film the boys are having drinks with people they don't like - I forget the exact circumstances -- crooks, snobs, something. One of that group pours drinks and proposes a toast like "Cheers," and Larry very cheerfully responds with "Well, ver derharget!" The scene is funny by itself, but if you know Yiddish, you know that he was saying "drop dead!" to them. Just a little extra zing.

A popular ad campaign of the 1960s in NYC showed photos of people one would not necessarily identify as Jewish New Yorkers eating great big sandwiches, and proclaimed: "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's Real Jewish Rye."

The same with comedy. There was a panel discussion show a few years ago with Canadian comedians, and the topic was "Why Are Canadians So Funny?" The conclusion was: the funny ones are funny, but not all of the rest are. I agree with that; I think funny is funny; it has no need of any other identity.

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Dewey1960
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Postby Dewey1960 » November 7th, 2007, 2:27 pm

Hey, folks, here's some clips from the new Ken Burns documentary about The Three Stooges. Looks pretty promising.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEQpIFUuCug[/youtube]

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Postby cinemalover » November 21st, 2007, 10:44 am

I finally got the new DVD set I had ordered (it took longer than it should have to get here). Now I'm looking forward to finding the time to watch them. It contains the Stooge's first 19 shorts in chronological order! Curley, here I come!
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.

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Dewey1960
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Postby Dewey1960 » November 21st, 2007, 11:05 am

Congrats on getting your Stooges set, Chris! And now, in honor of Thanksgiving, Curly and the boys give us a lesson in how to prepare a turkey!! Happy Holidays to one and all!!
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwP685FYnbI[/youtube]

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Postby mrsl » November 21st, 2007, 11:33 am

Hey Judith:

Actually your example proves my statement perfectly. The basic verbal punch of that scene comes from a familiarity with Yiddish, which I do not have. As I asked, the same goes for some Italian, Black, or any other type of humor which uses a particular ethnic quality, like the Italian arm sign. I recall asking a past member of TCM what she meant when she used a certain term and she explained it was a Jewish colloquialism. A few of the folks from Canada here on SSO use French sayings without realizing most of us Americans have no idea what they mean, but they're so used to using those sayings, that doesn't occur to them.

It's all moot now since the original Stooges are long gone and I haven't seen any plans for a Part II of the remake of The Three Stooges, I guess people are more selective now, and those fans from childhood are probably just reliving treasured memories.

Sorry I didn't answer earlier, but I'm leary of going into something if I can't avoid Dewey's utube things, they throw my computer into some kind of cyber padded room. :cry:

Anne
Anne


***********************************************************************
* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

]***********************************************************************

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » November 21st, 2007, 12:04 pm

Hi, Anne.

While I don't necessarily agree with you that you have to have any specialized knowledge to enjoy the Stooges, I do see your point about such things in general. There are lots of humorists out there who say nothing at all to me, because I don't share their experiences (that Cable Guy and his self-styled redneck associates come to mind. I find the humor on Hee-Haw funnier). I think much of a comedian's impact has to do with his/her personality, delivery and ability to be as "universal" as possible. Sometimes that universe is very small, but he/she can still make you laugh.

As for childhood memories, I find myself often disappointed when seeing now something I loved as a child. I wonder "what exactly did I find so hilarious about this?" and that's not just for things that were intended for children. I used to love Red Skelton's TV show, and now I find it lame as can be (I do still enjoy most of his films, though).

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Postby movieman1957 » November 21st, 2007, 3:15 pm

Dewey:

Thanks for the clip. I always loved the shaved ice bit.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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Postby cinemalover » November 26th, 2007, 1:02 pm

I finally got a chance to start watching the Stooges shorts off of the new DVD release. I posted my thoughts on their first short, Woman Haters, on my thread under General Chat.
Chris



The only bad movie is no movie at all.

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Re: The Three Stooges, Are They Just a Guy Thing?

Postby movieman1957 » September 30th, 2013, 10:28 am

This may be the wrong place to post this but a short by the boys believed to be lost has turned up in Australia, The film called "Hi Pop" is being screened in NY.

Here is a story from the NY Post via Fox News. Ignore the caption because it is wrong.

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/20 ... -screened/
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."


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