Thursday, March 12, 2020


Along with the Monkees brouhaha, the Three Stooges revival of the mid-eighties was a brief respite from the sorry kultural goings on that plagued that rather low energy decade. After a good fifteen or so years of their comedies being relegated to the ever dying kid show circuit, the Stooges were once again hot doodies, not quite as hot as they were when their shorts were being broadcast over and over throughout the sixties 'r anything like that but hot enough that more and more people took pride in the fact that they liked 'em, and  that it wasn't a shameful thing to do in the face of Marx Brothers worship either.

Heck, even I can remember my stool teachers telling the lumpen jerks otherwise known as classmates how unfunny and perhaps downright EVIL the Three Stooges were, and naturally alla that authoritarian condemnation made alla the true Suburban Slob types like 'em even moreSheesh, what did that teacher think us kids were...sophisticado martinis and nosh intellectuals who still sniffle buckets when they see Charlie Chaplin do that little fork dance in THE GOLD RUSH?????  (An additional note...just to remind myself of that particular scene's saccharine-ly cute and artzy pow'rs I decided to re-view it via Youtube and you know what? What I once found was patently prescribed for the Algonquin Round Table snoots and totally void of any true moom pitcher value [being pure "cinematic" as in for a higher form of life out there somewhere] was even more disgusting ninety-five years after that atrocity was laid to film. I do hope that the films as aht crowd who waxed so much treacle o'er Chaplin has died out by now so we can not only bury that "Li'l Cramp" for good but the over-affectionate appreciation of his work by elitist "fru-fru's" as well. Charlie, I will admit that ya did a few good things, but then again that was 1914 and nobody knew just what a horny bastard you were!)

But eh, the Stooges are timeless in that true ranch house kiddie way, and contrary to what many a tightass elementary stool teacher might have hoped I'm sure there are, even this late down the line, kids who watch and enjoy their shorts thus upsetting the whole idea of an educational/social system trying to create "The New Child". The Three Stooges really did (and continue to) lay down, speak FOR the assembled and mostly forgotten kid-dom and their spiritual spawn (of which I am a proud member) a whole lot more'n the "official" (should that be "State APPROVED"???) form of proper artistic expression for youth ever did! I mean, how many of you could sit through PETER AND THE WOLF even once???

Anyway, noted Stooge daughter Joan Howard Maurer knew a good trend to jump on, and with alla the Three Stooges hubbub that was goin' on inna eighties she decided to crank this particular effort out. And sheesh, CURLY is a biography of who else but her own Unca Curly, a man who some say was the best and brightest of the three assembled comedians even if some strident Shemp lovers might tend to disagree. Whatever, what the world needed in the eighties was a Curly Howard bio, and come to think of it a Curly bio in the here and now is a whole lot more needed'n the usual fodder that is being passed off as far as showbiz reads go. Or at least I'd sure like to see the face on some sourpuss teacher when one of her students hands in a book report of this!

This ain't the standard type of fambly bio filled with the usual "Uncle Curly was so generous with me, buying me toys all the time" even tho that sentiment does sink in at times as it SHOULD.  Thankfully Maurer goes deeper into the whole Curly mystique with this effort, tracking down not only a whole lotta those old photos I sure wish ended up in the Moe book Mauer assembled after his passing* but a whole lotta PEOPLE who were somehow part and parcel to Curly's life. And that's INCLUDING a few types who I dunno would be quite accepted at the Howard Thanksgiving table but Maurer got to them and even had the likes of Curly's daughter from a failed marriage (as well as his ex from the same hitch-up) and others give some heretofore unknown insights into the Curly saga. And  let me tell you, the results ain't exactly anything that makes the entire Stooge saga the fun and jamz I'm sure most kids watching them comedies thought it was gonna be! It can get rather uncomfortable at times, as if I'm in on a sob session where alla the horrors and degradation of inter-family turmoil all of a sudden come up and slap you right inna face like one of those live fish you see swimmin' about at Wholey's.

Not that the Curly story will make you wanna break down and slobber, but you do get a deep insight into the guy and exactly what made him tick. As we all woulda expected from alla those other books, Curly was a wild and coarse guy who liked a good time and indulged in everything from booze, luxuries and lotsa gash. He suffered through a few bad marriages which, while not as nightmarish as the one Chaplin had with Lita Murray, showed that perhaps the man didn't have the good sense to find his perfect mate. Fortunately his last hitch up proved that the third (or was it the fourth?) time was the charm even if the gal did get stuck nursing the stroke-riddled guy.

And yeah, maybe he wasn't exactly father of the year material and his high living is what eventually led to his decline in health. You do get mixed feelings while reading this, at times wanting to bop the guy onna head even harder'n Moe would then feeling like snifflin' a few when you suffer with Curly through his health problems and kinda realize that maybe you woulda been like him all along had you the talent and money that comes with it changing your life in ways most people out there couldn't even dream of.

What else can I say but this is fantastico! Sure I got some quibbles, like the artwork preceding each chapter just doesn't settle right, plus whose idea was it to get Michael Jackson to "write" the foreword anyway? But for Curly and Stooge fans who want more than just the same old o'er the years well, you might get that nice li'l kick outta this that'll jar you outta the present day entertainment blahs like nothing since a jolting "Shemp Special"!
*...of which two of my favorites are the ones of an early-Stooges-era Curly sporting a snot-stopper mustache!


diskojoe said...

Don't forget this example of 80s Stoogemania:

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

The Stooges > the Marx Brothers all day long.

Anonymous said...

Keep 'em comin', Chris! Cheers! Alvin Bishop

Anonymous said...

(((Curly))) was surly. All of (((them))) are.

Better to stick to real American comedy: WC Fields, Laurel & Hardy.