Saturday, January 26, 2008

Seriously embracing zany Stooges

Commentary by Jim Banholzer

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I stumbled into a pal recently, who pointed out that some babes would try to tell you that they just do not like the Three Stooges. These gals think that the only times those mugs put "the ladies" up on a pedestal is when they've accidentally released mice into a room. I say, "Don't mind that lamebrain calling you babe, toots, you just ain't watched enough episodes yet." Call me a knucklehead, but I have seen repeatedly girls claiming to be anti-Stooge, improve their outlook on life with proper indoctrinations from Drs. Howard & Fine.

A recently converted Stooges aficionado is my friend Laura. She had adamantly claimed that there was nothing likeable about those ignoramuses. Then one day a swayback horse episode came on TV. Being a lifelong horsewoman, this lassoed her attention. The three best jockeys were all hanging on to the same horse for dear life—wildly galloping in fast-motion circles, around a 1920s arena. A smiley creak emanating from Laura's lips soon sprung into convulsing laughter, resulting in a strata-stupefying conversion of her attitude towards the Stooges.

I met another gal in town who works at a store selling music and DVDs. She is a recent transplant from the south of France and has barely heard of Stooges high-jinx. What in the world ever made the French want to filter out Stooges from America? They adore Jerry Lewis, but don't know about Moe? Fancying myself a professor of happiness, I demonstrated some nifty tricks with my fists, explaining how they knock each other about until reaching a "poirfect" head-conking epiphany. After tossing in a few nyuck-nyucks, she too showed a slight hint of amusement. Determining that she was not one of those "do not call me a chick" chicks, I felt an HDTV ray of hope towards her future enjoyment of being floored from hilarious whirling Curleys.

There have been volumes scribed about the convincing healing power of comedy. Grief-stricken folks who have lost a loved one —some who have not laughed for a year or more are sometimes gently brought back into a more bearable world with help from the good turpentine of Stooge-like slapstick. If more shows of this nature illuminated in world theatres, perhaps opposing parties could lay down their weary arms, relax their knuckles and share a few hardy chuckles. We might even learn that to lob unordered cream pies into each other's faces only makes for a horrifying mess to mop up.

Cartoonists and comedians sometimes jangle keys to powerful vehicles of peace without even realizing it. Just as the unique beacons of enlightenment that poets, artists and athletes valiantly race with, it will be a bumpy, jalopy ride down robotic frontiers before ethereally bolted lunkheads could ever match the true staying power of the original Stooges. If the Stooges could come back, how hard would they laugh at the Random Joke Generators of today? Would they guffaw with me for being silly enough to think that they would laugh at my antics?

Recently the Farrelly Brothers (of Dumb & Dumber fame) and 20th Century Fox held some positive negotiations, enabling a new Three Stooges film to come one step closer to eye-popping reality. Some of their script was refined a few summers ago here in the serious writing atmosphere of Sun Valley, including rehearsals of an operation on a nun using an electric toothbrush and vacuum cleaner in one of the Lodge rooms. A rib-tickling scene develops with the discovery of a wishbone inside the semi-conscious nun. This ensues in a wrassling match over the examination table to break off the largest piece for good luck.

This is not the first connection to Idaho in Stooges history. Their last actual film was "Kooks' Tour," made in the Montana and Idaho wilderness in 1970.

Local stores in Idaho that rent or sell CDs and DVDs can special order you hot towels full of Stooges episodes. I hope that this column has corralled potential converts, to sway back some horse sense for the French chickie-baby. When she travels back to Stooge-starved France, she can start encouraging her sphere of the world to stop, look and listen to the profundity from the simple-minded good words and deeds of these three wise guys. Perhaps even the authoritative judgie-wudgies that oversee Medecins sans Frontieres will start recommending, "Take three Stooge DVDs and call me in the morning."

Dedicated to Mattie 'Dudeges' Mckenzie -- Idaho's best Curley impersonator.


  1. Shemp8:46 PM

    In the 1947 Three Stooges short Brideless Groom, Shemp Howard must be married before 6:00 p.m. in order to inherit $500,000.00. After striking out, Shemp finally finds a girl willing to marry him, and they rush off to a justice of the peace, played by Emil Sitka. As Sitka starts the ceremony, telling the couple to "hold hands, you lovebirds", the other girls that turned down Shemp's proposal burst in, having heard of the inheritance. A free-for-all then ensues, with poor Sitka being struck again and again, attempting to start the ceremony, each time more disheveled and his "hold hands, you lovebirds" a little weaker. Because of the widespread distribution of this short (it is one of four Three Stooges shorts that slipped into public domain), this scene is the one that Sitka has become best known for. Notably, a clip of this short is featured in Pulp Fiction, for which Sitka's name even appears in the credits as "Hold Hands You Lovebirds".

    Later years:
    Emil Sitka continued with the acting career, more out of love for acting than the need for money, appearing in films as late as 1992. He was in demand at various Three Stooges conventions, and had numerous requests from Three Stooges fans to appear at their wedding to say "Hold hands, you lovebirds!" Emil Sitka died on January 16, 1998 in Camarillo, California, USA, from complications from a stroke. He is survived by four daughters and two sons. One of his sons, Saxon, has created the official Emil Sitka website in his honor —- Saxon carries on his father's legacy by appearing at Stooge conventions as often as possible. On his father's gravestone, the engraving "Hold hands, you lovebirds!" appears.

  2. Great post. I haven't caught a Stooges episode in far too long. I'd love to see that nun scene.


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