“Why I oughta!”
Most of America (and, let’s be honest, statistically all of America’s men) love The Three Stooges and have for as long as “pointless violence without consequence” has been inexplicably hilarious for about 65% of the population. The vaudeville slapstick act was around from 1930 to 1975, though they’re best remembered for their now-syndicated short films featuring Larry, Moe and Curly from 1934 to 1947 (as well as the Larry, Moe and Shemp films that ran from 1947 to 1956 that we were always secretly disappointed to watch when they came on). Oh, there also was that Farrelly brothers movie version, which, um, well let’s just pretend that didn’t happen.
Many American childhoods have been spent watching three grown men beating on each other for no particular reason apart from “you said something dumb” or “you just asked me to hit your fist, which I will do, even though it will cause that fist to windmill around and bonk me on the head.” And while we have every right to celebrate them for all that they have done, including but not limited to filming the funniest use of eye gouging on film (followed in a distant, distant, distant second place by Game of Thrones), today we’re going to recognize that some of their films, largely through fault of their titles, and largely through the fact that these were being churned out with no regard for “a story that makes sense”, have aged somewhat awkwardly. Admittedly, no one remembers the names of any Three Stooges short, or even the plot of any individual one—our collective understanding of The Stooges begins and ends at “Moe is the boss, Curly makes the funny noises, and we guess Larry does stuff too sometimes.” That said, while thin in premise and generally serving as lazy ways to justify twenty minutes of the Stooges beating the shit out of each other, when you actually sit down and read the titles out loud, or simply stumble through a plot synopsis, a reader in 2015 might awkwardly tug at their collar and make a noise not much different than one Curly would make. So, we decided to look through the 190 shorts they managed to make in their career and cherry pick ones that we found to be especially uncomfortable-slash-hilarious. We’ve naturally listed them below for your reading pleasure.
The Most Awkward Three Stooges Films