The Vocation of the Three Stooges

The release of a DVD anthology of the first 19 Three Stooges episodes is the occasion of some much-deserved critical commentary. The funniest part of the article is the juxtaposition of the expert’s title with the topic that he is expounding:

“I call it their ‘triadic dynamic,’ ” says Jon Solomon, the Robert D. Novak professor of Western civilization and culture at the University of Illinois.”

But the commentary, with its background information, is quite revealing, such as this on the typical plot structure of a Stooge episode:

The basic premise of many a Stooges comedy wasn’t complicated: The three down-on-their-luck schmoes take on some job for which they are completely unqualified, making a complete mess of it. For example, after happening upon some wealthy homeowner with leaky pipes, Moe will declare, “Sure, we can do your plummin’, Toots. We’ll have you fixed up in a jiffy!” Typically, this is followed by more broken pipes, pipes clobbering heads and, of course, a flood.

See, even the Three Stooges are all about the doctrine of vocation!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    I’ve never “gotten” the 3 Stooges humor, but they have obviously brought many people to a smile and chuckle. I would think that even a comedian can be fulfilling his/her vocation, though that gift is often abused by many a modern comic.

    I still remember a Sunday morning tradition of my dad as he watched one Laurel and Hardy rerun each Sunday morning (before church…it came on pretty early). He’d laugh and laugh at each episode as we ate breakfast. It would make us kids giggle just to watch our dad laugh, even though we rarely got the slapstick humor. I still don’t appreciate their humor, but their comedy was never offensive that I can recall.

  • Richard

    Theresa has made an important point borne out by my observations: it’s only guys who are able to appreciate the subtle humour and the criticial cultural commentary and sophisticated verbal repartees of the Stooges; for some reason, women are clueless when it comes to appreciating the Stooges’ finer comedic ponts.

  • Carl Vehse

    Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!

  • allen

    Yeah, what Richard said.

    Remember when they were doctors and the intercom kept calling out, “Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard” and they’d start running around bumping into each other and knocking over gurneys and such?

    And remember when Curly was a boxer who could only really fight when Larry was playing “Pop Goes the Weasel” on the violin? You guys remember how that one ended!

    And remember when Curly was an iceman and he grabbed the block of ice with his tongs and ran up a very long stretch of steps to the house and by the time he got to the top, the block had melted to a tiny cube, and even as a kid, you knew, you just knew, he would do it all over again.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa Kiihn

    I always have the same reaction when I watch L & H or the 3 Stooges – I feel uncomfortable. It’s hard to watch people out of control…kind of like watching children out of control. Maybe its a motherly thing. I’ve known for a while that slapstick humor was a guy thing and that’s OK!

  • Richard

    Hey, hey, Theresa, no digs on the boys Laurel and Hardy. We are talking a different kind of wine from the Three Knuckleheads. Hey, Allen, remember when Curly went nuts when he was given cheese?

  • allen

    Hey, Richard, “You Nazty Spy!” came out nine months before Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.”

    Anyhow, when my two brothers and I were playing Stooges, we always used the back of the sawblade to saw on each others heads, you know, so as not to damage the teeth.


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