I stumbled across another movie channel on cable recently, HDNET, and they were doing a Three Stooges marathon, three of their features and the TV-biopic produced by Mel Gibson in 2000. They went right onto the DVR where they joined The Three Stooges movie (2012) I had previously recorded from HBO. So now I was about to do a mega-marathon.
I grew up with the Stooges. They were on every afternoon here in NYC, after school on WPIX, Channel 11, hosted by Officer Joe Bolton. They did 190 shorts for Columbia pictures. Even though it felt like I saw them all, I know I hadn't. I got to go to some midnight matinees in the 1970s where they showed the "banned" Stooge wartime shorts. I got to see some more when home video came out and then more when IFC made a point of showing them, uncut, on cable. What I never saw as much was the features they did.
From 1999 to 2004-ish, I was one of the contributing writers for Garrison Keillor's renowned radio show "A Prairie Home Companion." I learned a lot of things there, mostly how to spell 'prairie." It was a solid gig and I'm proud of my work there. But, like any other job, there were...things...
This is one of my mash-up sketches, one of my earliest, actually. The movie "Mommie Dearest" had come out, telling the strange tales of Joan Crawford and her daughter. But what if, instead of Joan, it was Curly Howard? Then you got something! The movie came out in 1981. The Stooges were having another moment, with home video coming out, culminating with the novelty song "The Curly Shuffle" in 1984. However the idea came to me, it did. I wrote it up. I presented to a workshop I was in during the early 80s and got a really good reaction to it. In fact, one guy in the group loved it, he wanted to see if he could produce it as a short film and show it at festivals and what not. That never happened. Or came close to happening. The workshop was very much powered by dreams and unicorn dust. But it was a solid bit and I'd pull it out whenever I could.
Like in April of 2004, for instance. PHC was still in NY. I was still trying to revive my statue with the show, and still feeling nostalgia was my strongest suit (ala "Abbott & Othello") I decided to pull "Curly Dearest" out of the drawer (a literal drawer, it was a type-written script) and attempted to turn it into a radio skit. Yeah, that was my first hurdle, turning slapstick and sight gags into aural-gags. In the intro, I mention there was a Three Stooges bio coming to TV. That was hurdle two; Keillor didn't know from TV. I knew that, yet figured the Stooge angle would compensate for that. And it ends abruptly. It was a much longer sketch, with more interplay and more violence. Anticipating the usual editing any of my bits would suffer, I decided to cut it down myself. But I played with the sound effects nicely.
In the end, it just wasn't a good fit for PHC. Too many actors? They only had two voice actors (Tim Russell & Sue Scott). And I had three stooges, so already it was under-cast. I'll have to hunt to see if I have a copy of the original version kicking around to post here down the road. It's really a funny skit and the plot and situation hold together well. Oh, well. And here's the thing...I would do it again, even it an old bit wasn't a good fit. I still believe that a sketch could hit an unexpected chord with a troupe. I'm always certain that it might spark a fire for some actors, make them try something that they wouldn't have normally considered. And, as always, I would hope anything I submit would show my range. It's certainly the reason I post my material here now...
Freelance writer, still hacking away.