When I was a kid, short films by “The Three Stooges” still played in movie theatres, usually somewhere between the Looney Tunes cartoon and the previews of coming attractions.
And when the opening theme played, a cheer always arose from the kids in the audience, while most of the adults settled back with a smile, knowing that despite what film they were in the mood for, they were in for a few belly laughs first.
“The Three Stooges” were never anybody’s idea of sophisticated entertainment, but nobody cared because, no matter which culture spawned you, they were drop-dead funny.
In an age when good movie comedies are few and far between, and often more intent on delivering a social message or subservient to a romantic plot, it’s hard to imagine a creative model that was simply about packing as many laughs into the available screen time as possible.
“The Three Stooges” were movie pioneers as important to the cinematic art form as Charlie Chaplin, John Ford, Hitchcock and pretty much any other filmmaker or movie icon you care to mention.
“King of All Media” Howard Stern has long insisted that the original Stooges, Larry, Curly and Moe are “the greatest comedians of all time”. And he thought he’d read, heard or seen everything available about them.
Then a few months ago, he interviewed “Dancing With The Stars” host Tom Bergeron, discovering not only an equally obsessed Stooges fan, but a guy who’d interviewed Larry Fine and Moe Howard when he was trying to break into the radio business.
At Stern’s urging, Bergeron dug through his attic and found the original tapes of those interviews, which featured both (by then elderly) comedians talking about how their characters, films and comic inspirations came to be.
Bergeron’s tapes form the heart of a Sirius Satellite Radio special that begins running today on Sirius Channel 101 with a wider audio rollout to follow.
It’s a unique insight into creativity and comedy history that’s well worth the listen. Perhaps, with luck, it might even inspire somebody to create content dedicated to doing nothing more than making people laugh.