April 12th, 2012
12:47 PM ET
The sultans of slapstick are back on the big screen. Well, kinda.
Hollywood's reboot of "The Three Stooges," starring Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso as Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively, hopes to recapture some of the magic that generations of fans have found discovering the original Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard.
One of those fans is Gary Lassin, who runs the Stoogeum, which houses "Stooges" memorabilia in Ambler, Pennsylvania.
"Most comedy acts are solo or at most a duo," he told CNN. "The Stooges are the only real successful trio. The introduction of a middleman (Larry) make a unique metric not available when there's just a straight man/comic duo."
Even though the Stooges first appeared in movie shorts, it was not until they hit television in the 1950s that they really took off (oddly enough, around the time that their shorts were on the way out).
"The fact that they made shorts, which are easily packaged into half-hour and one-hour time-slots for TV was critical," Lassin said. "Other comedy teams, like the Marx Brothers and Abbott & Costello, made mostly feature films, which never show up on TV anymore. The TV exposure has allowed new generations of fans to see just how funny they really were."
Of course, there is the time-honored debate: Curly or Shemp? While Lassin has a special place in his heart for Shemp, he actually has another pick for favorite Stooge.
"Larry was the best as his role was the most difficult," he said. "It's not too hard to play the Moe or Curly character, but how do you play a 'middleman'? Because the others got the lion's share of dialogue, Larry had to do a lot using just facial expressions and body language, and he was a genius at it!"
So what about Peter and Bobby Farrelly's upcoming film?
"Fans seem to be divided," said Lassin. "Some think it's blasphemy that the movie was even made, while others are eagerly looking forward to it. I am cautiously optimistic: concerned about the Farrelly's predilection for toilet humor (which the Stooges never did), but hopeful it will generate new fans and re-awaken former fans."
If you want to bone up on the best of the "Stooges," here are a few of our picks for their best shorts.
- "Disorder in the Court": This is the creme de la Stooge. The routine where an exasperated court clerk tries to get Curly to take an oath, while simultaneously taking off his hat is up there with "Who's on First." Plus, the Stooges do a musical number!
- "You Nazty Spy!": Nearly two years before America entered World War II, the Stooges were already taking aim at Adolf Hitler. Moe and his compatriots run the country of Moronica into the ground.
- "A Plumbing We Will Go" – The Stooges were always at their best on the job. They even took a shot at television, before most people even had one. A TV scene of a raging river ends up exploding with water all over the Stooges' rich clients (they also liked to poke fun at the upper class).
- "Brideless Groom" – Shemp's finest moment, being ruthlessly pursued by a woman, after it's discovered he will inherit a vast fortune if he gets married that day.
- "Men in Black" – "Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard!" Nominated for an Academy Award, one of the earliest "Stooges" shorts established their madcap formula.
Any other favorite classic "Stooges" moments? Let us know in the comments.
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