This month, Mike Hirsch, my contact at the radio station where my show airs, is going to put on his annual “Stoogefest” party. I missed out on the festivities last year because it was postponed because of the pandemic.
Every year, Mike gets five or six guys together at his place to eat sloppy joes, have some refreshments, and watch hours and hours of “The Three Stooges.” I’ve been a huge “Three Stooges” fan since I was a kid. In grade school, I’d get up before 6 a.m. every day just to make sure I was sitting in front of the TV when their reruns came on. From 6–7 a.m., our local Chicago station would play three “Three Stooges” episodes back-to-back. I never missed an episode! Every morning, I ate my cereal in front of the TV while I got my laughs on.
I’ve grown up a lot since the ’70s, but I never outgrew “The Three Stooges” and their slapstick humor. They made shows from 1922 until 1970, including 190 “short subject films” that are my absolute favorites. I’ve seen some of the shorts hundreds of times but Moe, Larry, and Curly still make me laugh. I can’t help but crack up when they start throwing pies in each other’s faces, poke each other in the eyes, or hit their heads with bottles, hammers, and an assortment of other tools and building materials.
Five of my favorite episodes include “Three Little Beers,” where the Stooges head out to the golf course; “Punch Drunks,” where Curly shows off his talents in the boxing ring; “A Plumbing We Will Go,” where the Stooges use “I’VE GROWN UP A LOT SINCE THE ’70S, BUT I NEVER OUTGREW ‘THE THREE STOOGES’ AND THEIR SLAPSTICK HUMOR.” their expert plumbing skills to flood a house; “We Want Our Mummy,” where the trio head to Egypt in search of King Rootentooten’s mummy so they can bring it back to the U.S. for a $5,000 reward; and “Micro-Phonies,” where Curly dresses up as an opera singer and lip-syncs the real singer’s recording to get invited to a swanky gathering to perform in front of several people. This particular episode was one of several filmed after Curly had a mild stroke, so he was not in prime form but still hilarious.
As a kid, I got a real charge out of that physical comedy. I still remember how much I laughed the first time I watched Moe hit Curly (who had a notoriously hard head) with a sledgehammer and the camera zoomed in on the hammer, squashed flat! Curly made the Stooges who they were. Shemp was okay when he took over for Curly, but I much prefer to watch and remember the Stooges with Curly.
Looking back, I think I loved “The Three Stooges” so much because it was a real break from reality. I got to forget all of the things going on in my real life for an hour every morning and lose myself in slapstick comedy instead. Laughing at their shenanigans always brightened up my day. Later on, I saw the same thing in my kids when they watched shows like “Sesame Street” (another favorite of mine from Saturday morning cartoons), “Curious George,” and “Caillou.”
The holidays are coming up this month, and for some people, that can mean a lot of stress and pressure. If you’re someone who gets worked up this time of year, I’d highly recommend kicking back with an episode of “The Three Stooges” or another comedy TV show, movie, or book you enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from reality, even during the holidays!