Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Nyuk nyuk yuck

When he was down on his luck, Buster Keaton made his living, what there was of it, writing bits for The Three Stooges. He didn’t hold the Stooges in high regard — having Keaton write for the Stooges was like having Michelangelo paint your living room ceiling off-white — but he no doubt figured that if they were ripping him off anyway, he might as well get paid.

One of the very obvious and overused Stooge bits that Keaton objected to was one of them reaching for the wrong thing and then using it, with hilarity ensuing. (If you were of a mind for that hilarity.) Larry might set down, say, a cup holding turpentine next to Moe’s cup of coffee, and guess what? Moe picks up the cup of turpentine and drinks it down. Ha ha ha. No, it’s not fair to try to capture that gag in print, minus the staging and the reaction shots, and expect it to be funny. For the record, I’ve always enjoyed The Three Stooges in small doses. In large doses, they’re as tedious as anything is in large doses.

What makes those gags seem obvious is the endless repetition — they appear in most Three Stooges shorts, and certainly the ones where the boys are doing some manual labor. If they’re painting, they’ve confused the paint with glue or something; if they’re doing plumbing, they’ve connected the wrong pipe; if they’re cooking, they mixed gunpowder into the cake… you get the idea.

And, I assure you, every single person who has ever watched any of these: 1. saw it coming; and 2. thought, “What an idiot! I would never do that!” Because the joke is built around the notion that we would never do that.

All of which ran through my head this morning when I started brushing my teeth and realized that it wasn’t toothpaste I’d squeezed onto my toothbrush and brushed liberally all over my teeth. It was this stuff.

At least my gums won’t itch.

4 Responses to “Nyuk nyuk yuck”

  1. Dan Says:

    Buddy, you sure can talk from shucks. All the way from Buster Keaton, to Michelangelo, to Moe Howard, to your mouth. I’d need a native guide to follow a trail like that!

  2. Adrian Says:

    But, you haven’t said Lee. Taste aside, do your teeth feel a bit stronger today?

  3. Lee Wochner Says:

    More notably, my tongue feels like it’s been varnished.

  4. Dan Says:

    You silver-tongued devil, you!

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