They were old already when I was a kid, some of the zany plots WWII vintage, featuring Hitler and Mussolini. They were scratchy old 20-minute black-n-white shorts so when they came on on Saturday morning, you got three--that's it. If Shep was on one or two, it was an cloudy weekend because Curly was just too great a part of their shenanigans--which is not to say a kid couldn't laugh at Shep.
I don't remember ever hearing my mother yell at me for having them on, but I knew other kids weren't supposed to watch The Three Stooges. Bullying is a huge problem in elementary schools--horrible, awful. Probably worse back then, when kids were simply assumed to be something like retarded adults. Moe may well have been the worst role model a big kid could have back then, constantly banging on his hair-brained buddies, poking their eyes out, slapping them up like bad pets. But then, in every last story, Moe always got his too--you could count on it.
Funny, I don't remember teachers railing against them either, but all the boys I knew watched 'em. And did we laugh. I don't think, as a kid, I ever laughed at anything or anyone as hard as I did at the Three Stooges, even though there was likely as much dorky violence per square inch of film in those 20-minute skits than there is vintage Tarentino. Just no blood.
One of my childhood friends did Curly's "nuk, nuk, nuk" routine, his hand flapping from his forehead, did it so well we used beg him for recitals and stumble down the sidewalk laughing when he did.
They're coming back. That's the news this morning. MGM's got Jim Carrie, Sean Penn, and Benicio del Toro signed, sealed, and delivered to reprise the antics of the greatest knuckleheads of all time. What a thrill.
I used to have a couple of Three Stooges tapes down here I picked up for a buck somewhere, but I gave them away to my autistic friend because every Sunday, in church, he hauls out a check for the offering, nicely signed and addressed. Some people have Washington's Olympic range printed in a background on their checks--some have buttery fields of daffodils. Stuart's checks feature Larry, Moe, and Curly Joe. "You like the Stooges, Stuart?" I asked him long ago. "Why, do you?" he said, which is what he usually says. "I love 'em," I told him. "Me too," he said. So I gave those tapes away.
But when the Stooges come around this time, 75 years after MGM filmed them the first time, I'm calling Stuart and dragging him along to the theater. I don't think my wife will be all that interested, but count me in. Anybody know where I can I buy a couple of advanced tickets?
Nuk, nuk, nuk.