The next time you pick up one of Hallmark’s “Shoebox” cards, note the comment on the back that credits the writer as a person “who can access his inner 5th grader with surprising ease.” For the most part, that would be me, which doubtless is one of the reasons Kris suggested a trip to the new Three Stooges movie on Friday — the other being a dark sulk that I had been cultivating for part of the day. The contemporary rendition, no surprise, is as moronic as the originals and just the laugh I needed. Then and now, I always enjoyed the no-apology approach of their act and was glad to see them back, if only for the moment. There’s worthwhile pleasure in getting what you expect, each and every time. We have a copy of a Tim Allen comedy routine that we’ve probably watched a dozen times and we howl with every viewing just because we know all of the jokes and know exactly when they’re coming. In fact, as often as not, we’ll fire the video up just so we can enjoy the show once more.
Back in the day, Mom, God love her, used to register disgust when those crazy guys would come on our TV at home and my brothers and I would invariably crack up at the antics. She’d snort at the low sophistication of the humor and we’d always retort that we thought it was great. Women, it’s been noted, never had much use for the Stooges, while guys, for the most part, couldn’t get enough. I’m not sure why that is, but it may be the total lack of pretension, and, of course, a decided taste for physical gags: you know, a cinch to get, along with the crazy sound effects.
There’s a story about a guy walking through a mostly empty studio back when the originals were being produced, and from a distance he could hear a man just shrieking in laughter. As he drew near, he recognized the man dubbing in the clanks and bells effects into a Stooges short as the three banged their way across the screen. Clearly, a guy enjoying his work.
Now I absolutely love a witty comedy that’s suffuse with subtleties and completely clever. Nothing like it. But I’m also a sucker for Inspector Clouseau, and there too, I’ll start breaking up before the punch line is hit. I’ve seen “The Return of the Pink Panther,” oh, I don’t know, maybe six or eight times, and the scene where he is trying to explain his actions — or more accurately, his inaction — in the face of a bank robbery to his supervisor is almost too funny for words. Not Noel Coward, to be sure, but a crack-up every time. Simply roll ’em in the aisles stuff.
And here’s something else: top-of-the-line physical humor — with some notable exceptions, of course — usually works in a “G” context; i.e., no sex. It isn’t needed. That is, the performers can make it work with their clothes on, and sans the all-too-often embarrassing rolls in the hay or wherever. You really can take your kids and don’t have to ‘splain things. I mean, shoot: Kris took me to see those three nuts one more time and I loved it.
One joke if you miss the film: The boys, in typical fashion, crash (well, literally) a party, and an outraged woman says to her boyfriend, “Who let those three idiots in here?” He replies, “You mean the Kardashian sisters?”
Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!
For about 90 minutes and senior tickets it was great fun.
Sorry Mom, but we’re still laughing.