Do This Don't: Love The Three Stooges

I'm not supposed to love the Three Stooges, but I can't help myself.
Publish date:
October 5, 2011
comedy, do this don't, the three stooges

Last night I was reading through some comments on the xoJane Facebook page, and I noticed one where the poster was encouraging Emily to fight the "women aren't funny" argument by countering that "Humor is subjective, and that no woman on earth finds the Three Stooges funny."

I understand where she's coming from -- honestly, I do -- but if I ever get into one of those arguments, I'm gonna have to find a different way to adminster a verbal beatdown since I totally find the Three Stooges hilarious.

It's a well-worn trope, this idea that women don't find the Stooges funny, and it bums me out because in my experience it seems to be kinda true. I took an informal poll of my female friends and so far, most say they just "don't get" the Stooges. I feel so alone!

There are so many reasons I identify with this trio of numbskulls. I grew up in a working class household where physical comedy (both intentional and otherwise) was the order of the day. My dad once stuck the tip of an iron up his nose "to see if it was hot." (Spoiler alert: IT WAS HOT.)

Still can't explain that one, but we laughed for days. Likewise when my brother bit into a whole jalapeno on a dare and capped it off by running out the front door and diving into a snowbank with his burning mouth wide open. You know, for laughs.

I was an uncoordinated kid, finding a myriad of ways to fall down for no apparent reason, so of course I loved watching the Stooges doing the same thing onscreen. I was chubby as well (okay, still am), which makes Curly my "spirit animal" of sorts. Round, clumsy, with the trusting spirit of a child. I could/can relate!

But in my family, even more important than a well-placed fart noise or tumble down the stairs was the ability to effectively insult one another in a humorous fashion. Swapping insults was our main form of communication. This might sound harsh, but I found it kind of thrilling and loved nothing more than being able to make one of my parents laugh. We all took turns dishing it out as well as taking it, and I'm a stronger person for it.

Though the Stooges are primarily known as slap-happy physical comedians, there is a distinctly American sort of gutter poetry in their dialogue that never fails to delight me. So many fantastic one-liners.

"What'll the world do without me? What'll I do without myself?!"

"Every time you think, you weaken the nation."

"Good morning, sir, I'm the census taker. Are you married or happy?"

And one of my favorite lines from Curly, which I've been known to repeat when I'm frustrated or can't remember something important:

"I'm tryin' ta think, but nothin' happens!"

As a big sister, I definitely took a "Moe" role with my brother John, conning him into all kinds of humiliating shit -- dressing as a pregnant Nancy Reagan (?!), a human Cabbage Patch Kid (homemade diaper and all), and tying him to the front porch railing with our mother's pantyhose, then riding away on my bike to a "big important cowboy meeting." My parents hardly batted an eye.

It wasn't until adulthood that I grew to appreciate the subtler charms of Larry, who -- like Curly -- is also the subject of Moe's abuse, but often serves as a goofy foil to the crazier antics of the Howard brothers. Turns out our girl Rachel is a Larry lover as well, who texted me the photo above with the message:

"My true fav has always been Larry 'Louis Feinberg' Fine. He's the weirdo, the intellectual, the classically trained musician and pugilist. That's hot to me."

I totally understand this! Of all the Stooges, Larry's the one you can kind of imagine cozying up to. Maybe it's the hair ... or maybe we're both crazy. I'm just glad to know I have at least one other female friend who appreciates the Three Stooges, who I really think are one of the greatest treasures this country has ever produced. I could watch this clip reel all day and night and never tire of it.

So where do you guys stand -- do you find the Three Stooges funny? Or do Rachel and I need to start up a two-woman support group and call it a day?