Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Do Guys Like the Three Stooges?




Okay, I picked a particularly savage scene to illustrate this trio of comics, but I have never understood the charm of these three. None of their humor is witty. They are not especially skilled at physical humor. Almost all of it is based on inflicting pain. Explain it to me.

37 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - I really couldn't tell you why people love the Three Stooges. I've never liked them, myself. I honestly don't get the appeal...

Anonymous said...

Ask Cap'n Bob - the real fan.

Jeff M.

Dana King said...

Not skilled at physical humor? Really?

I've been watching the Three Stooges for fifty years, and I still get tears in my eyes at some favorite scenes. I even come down on both sides in the ongoing Curly-Shemp war. (I prefer Curly, but like Shemp.) I'm appalled that spell check doesn't recognize Shemp as a real word. (Changing my dictionary settings now.)

Why are they funny? Beats me. Why is anything funny? Funny is like pornography. Hard to describe, easy to recognize.

Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well, they don't have the grace of a Buster Keaton or a Charlie Chaplin. They seem mostly skilled in hurting each other mostly. Scramblers.
I grew up with a brother that liked them. Never got it then and still don't.

Anonymous said...

My brother was also a bigger fan than I was, but I certainly watched them when I was a kid. Of course boys like watching people poke fingers in each others' eyes.

And everybody loves Curly.

Jeff M.

Al Tucher said...

Let's get real here. It's a guy thing. I can count the female Stooges fans I have known on one hand, whereas a guy who doesn't like them bears watching. He might be okay, but he'll have to prove himself.

As to why this is, I yield the floor.

Chris said...

I've never liked them either. In fact, they are one of those things that seeing them will actually make me angry. I avoid at all costs.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My husband doesn't get them either but is always hesitant to admit it/ Like admitting you don't like sports or cowboys for men.

Walker Martin said...

I have to agree it's a guy thing. I know this is a general statement and there are exceptions, but women usually are more sensitive and less violent than men. Guys find the Stooges violence and insensitive behavior funny while women usually do not see the humor at all.

For instance, this 3 minute clip made me laugh several times but many women probably would feel sorry for Curly and not find the slapstick gags funny.

Humor is very subjective; what I find hilarious, someone else may find not funny at all.

James Reasoner said...

I love the Stooges and have for as far back as I can remember. Every time I see them it puts a smile on my face.

Al Tucher said...

I think your right about the subjectivity of humor, Walker. I have Chris's reaction to the Marx Brothers.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I find W.C. Fields funny and he is often the instigator or recipient of violence. But in between that, there are other bits that are not violent.
(blind man with the light bulbs for instance. )
I am not particularly fond of the Marx Brothers either. I like Laurel and Hardy the best. But what I find the most funny is verbal humor rather than slapstick.

Dave Zeltserman said...

a bigger and more interesting question is why are women so blind to the brilliant comedy of the Three Stooges? Not skilled at physical comedy?? You need to take another look at Curly in his prime. At the top tier is Chaplin and WC Fields, but Curly before he started getting sick had impeccable timing and genius in his own rights.

Charles Gramlich said...

I have no idea. I never found the Stooges funny at all. It just gets a shrug from me.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I liked the Stooges but only after L&H, Buster Keaton, Marx Brothers, and Charles Chaplin. But you've a point: they aren't as funny as I thought them to be the first time I saw their act. Maybe they just wanted to be different from the Top 4.

MP said...

Just out of curiosity, Patti, do you like Roadrunner cartoons? They're very violent, and I guess I find them funny for the same reason I've always loved the Stooges.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Nope. I guess anything where the key ingredient is violence without much plot to sustain it, is not for me.

Thomas Pluck said...

I like Curly, that's about it

pattinase (abbott) said...

Larry always seemed the least memorable.

Anonymous said...

I never saw the connection between the Stooges and Roadrunner cartoons before. A physical, violent humor that doesn't actually cause damage.

Why do I like the Stooges? They did the things I wanted to do (beat on my friends) without anyone actually being hurt or getting into trouble. It's a guy thing.

I have noticed that the older AND more mature I've gotten, the less I have watched. (Goes for Looney Tunes cartoons too.)

1 L Loyd

pattinase (abbott) said...

I guess as you get older you feel the pain more.

Cullen Gallagher said...

This clip had me laughing out loud! I haven't seen as much Stooges as I should have, but I have to admit that I find them funny. The flame thrower was a great bit (I make a lot of flame thrower jokes, myself, so that seems like a clip meant for me).

Part of what makes that funny is that they don't break for laughs. They're not begging the audience, and they don't seem to be in on the humor. They play the violence straight--but, at the same time, they're sloppy about it. And, I guess that disjunction accounts for part of the humor.

If they were smiling and giggling, this wouldn't be nearly as funny.

Dan_Luft said...

A bigger mystery is why the occasional guy prefers the ones with Shemp

Todd Mason said...

I've never liked slapstick that much (the notion that humor is about pain rather than dealing with pain has always been bullshit), and I do like the verbal humor of the Marxes (and the pantomime of Harpo), though some of their films (DUCK SOUP) are vastly better than others (THE BIG STORE). As a child, I watched the Stooges for a while, and the only film of theirs I recall actually liking was one in which Curly was a ghost and tormented the hell our of Larry and particularly Moe in revenge. And that one wasn't That good.

Dave Zeltserman said...

There was also a class satire at the heart of the best Stooge comedies, just as there was in the best Marx Brothers movies. To dismiss the Stooges as simply being violent is shortsighted. BUT I'm making this argument for the Curly ones only. Many of the early ones before Curly started getting sick were brilliant.

Dan, I'm with you. I can't understand how anyone could prefer Shemp over Curly, although I know people who do--and these are people who normally show good judgment. Life's funny that way.

Todd Mason said...

However, any class critique (or power-dynamics critique...other bullies would bully Shemp [often the dominant one in the earliest trio films] or Moe and they would bully their sidekicks accordingly) always took a backseat to 2x4s to the head and the temporary foiling of eye-gouging.

Rather as with Groucho's misogyny, the mix is rarely unproblematic, but the Marxes hit a lot of higher notes. I like even the Ritz Bros. better than the Stooges.

Richard R. said...

Without reading any of the above comments, my answer is I DON'T KNOW. Personally I can't stand them. Nor do I like Laurel and Hardy. The humor is just too slapstick and obvious for my taste. I had no idea that it was a largely male audience who liked this stuff, but that's neither here nor there.

Richard R. said...

Of all the other comedians mentioned above, the only one I'd spend time to watch would be Chaplin. I used to like the Marx Brothers in the better ones, but my enjoyment has faded with time (and it didn't take much of it).

So, who's funny? I'll tell you. ARE YOU BEING SERVED? is funny. Mr. Bean is funny.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

They three stooges are not funny. Period.

Anonymous said...

Rick, it's all a matter of taste. I don't care for ARE YOU BEING SERVED? or Mr. Bean. On the other hand I loved ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE and FAWLTY TOWERS and RED DAWRF.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

DWARF, not DAWRF.

Jeff

Deb said...

My husband loves The Three Stooges, but I do not. I don't see the amusement. In fact, on the rare occasions when I watch them, I feel more anxiety than anything else, just knowing someone's going to hit someone with a crowbar or get a hammer dropped on them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Anxiety about covers it.
Love ONE FOOT and FAWLTY-have never seen RED DWARF or ARE YOU ARE BEING SERVED.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

To the two British sitcoms ARE YOU BEING SERVED? and FAWLTY TOWERS, I'll add a few more — TO THE MANOR BORN, NOT THE NINE O'CLOCK NEWS and THE BLACK ADDER. Great fun!

Rowan Atkinson? Now here's an actor who could have done a lot better than BEAN. The bit-role where he plays the devil and welcomes new people to hell is hilarious.

Juri said...

Coming from Finland where these guys are relatively unknown (though we've loved Chaplin, Keaton, Marxes and others for decades), I haven't seen many of these, only clips, but I didn't find this very funny. The flame thrower had me laughing, like Cullen! But I've been a die-hard fan of the Roadrunners for years, and I can certainly see the difference. The Roadrunners are meticulously and brilliatly timed and Chuck Jones makes sure there's enough time for the gags to develop, which isn't the case here. I don't sense any rhythmic timing in this - sorry, Dave!

But beside that, I'd have to watch a lot more Three Stooges than I've already have.

Louie Louie said...

It's because most women and even some men don't have the Stooge gene. Just like most women and some men don't have the "every fart is funny" gene. It's a matter of biology.

Anonymous said...

I am a girl and I have watched every episode at least once, as well as some of their feature films. I even own 2 of the Three Stooges Collection DVDs, and plan to add to them as I am able. It would be incorrect to say that they aren't good at physical comedy OR witty humor. They had perfect timing (which is harder work than you'd think) and, Larry particularly, had hilarious facial reactions to violence inflicted on another stooge, etc. Also, their shorts DID have a plot, and the boys did a couple very good political satires as well: You Nazty Spy, when Moe, ironically he was Jewish, impersonated Hitler and made fun of the nazi regime (btw, he was the first actor to do this, and he did a startlingly good job), and Three Dark Horses, which was so close to the truth about politics that it was almost painful lol (Shemp: "That 2 hour work week, that really got me!!" Moe: "Ya can't believe all that, thems CAMPAIGN PROMISES!" *smack*)

I think Shemp was the most versatile and experienced actor of the bunch, and had very cleverly funny things to say in any given situation (Shemp: "I had an uncle that could make things disappear!" Moe: "Was he a magician?" Shemp: "No, he was a kleptomaniac!") I personally love Shemp, and most of my favorite stooge episodes have Shemp in them. Plus, where would the Stooges be without their classic eyepoke, which Shemp invented when he got mad at Larry during a card game? Lol

However, Moe is my favorite, maybe because I'm the oldest sibling in my family and have a similar bossy personality and can relate to Moe's constant frustration with his fellow stooges. Also, I share his birthday, which I am VERY proud of. Haha

Larry was a genius, though largely inconspicuous because the playwrights wrote him in that way. He had way more potential than he was able to display. He had some very funny moments throughout the years though ("WHAT STUPID IMBECILIC FOOL PUT THAT UP THERE... oh, I did.. silly me"; and when he breaks out in a wild Tarzan yell in the middle of a packed court room after killing a piece of gum). He runs very closely to Moe for being my favorite, in fact, I think it's a tie!

Curly was the loveable little childlike fat guy who took most of the slaps and rarely fought back. He coined many of the most popular Stooges catchphrases, like nyuk nyuk nyuk and COITENLY! Though I love him too, sometimes his childishness briefly gets on my nerves.

I don't really care for the two Joes, because they weren't really stooge material. They were funny in their own right, I suppose, but not with the Three Stooges.

I know most females don't like them, and some even hate them! But I love them, and right now their films are almost the only thing that can really make me laugh, as my cousin just passed away a couple months ago. I owe them one. :)