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Shaw: Three Stooges films continue to deliver

Jim Shaw

FARGO -- They started more than 95 years ago…

And I soitently still love the Three Stooges. When I was in elementary school, their 20-minute hilarious short films were shown on television every day before and after school. I faithfully watched them, as did most of my friends. I have seen each of the 190 short films (they also made full length movies) dozens of times. I know the lines coming up in all those films, and yet I still laugh every time. I am proud to say I am a card carrying member of the Three Stooges Fan Club and a loyal subscriber to the quarterly newsletter, “The Three Stooges Journal.”

Trivia question: Three of the Stooges were brothers. Can you name them? Answer: below.

I know many people look down upon the Stooges because the characters they played are morons and the humor is slapstick. However, there’s no denying they are funny. If you look close, you will find their films have more depth than you realize. They spoof just about everybody: Athletes, the military, high society, colleges, actors, fashion, artists, doctors and the court system. I guarantee you will laugh when they try to swear in Curly in “Disorder In The Court.”

The Stooges bring snobs and the powerful down to their level. Their film, “Men in Black,” (“Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard”) was even nominated for an Oscar. They also had some brilliant spoofs of the Nazis. Moe was excellent in his portrayal of Hitler, while Curly did a terrific impersonation of Hermann Goering.

Curly (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk) was a comic genius. You can’t teach the mannerisms, voices, improvisations and gestures that the lovable and brilliant Curly displayed. It’s sad that he had a stroke at age 42, and had to leave the act. He was only 48 when he died.

The Stooges also toured a lot. They made several appearances in the Twin Cities, and according to the Journal, made their only trip to North Dakota in 1951. They performed at the Bismarck Auditorium and Grand Forks Central High School.

The Stooges finally received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983. You may look down upon the Stooges, but people are still watching them and laughing. Very few acts have that kind of staying power.

Trivia answer: Moe, Curly, and Shemp. However, the three of them were only in one short film together, as Curly and Shemp replaced each other as the “third” Stooge. That one film was “Hold That Lion!,” when Curly was very ill, and had a cameo role as a snoring train passenger.

Warden to Stooges: “You are going to be shot at sunrise!”

Moe: “You can’t do that to us.”

Warden: “And why not?”

Curly: “We don’t get up that early.”

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV new director. He can be heard Fridays, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., on WDAY AM radio. Email