Wednesday, December 15, 2004


The Big Jewel, a humor site via Kurt Luchs, onetime writer for Craig Kilborn and Bill Maher (and current syndicator of the American Comedy Network), is running a piece of mine, "Shemp Howard's 1949 Journal."

Shemp was always and remains my fave Stooge. Curly gets all the acclaim, and he's funny, I won't deny that. But he lacked the subtle lunatic/absurdist edge that Shemp displayed in such shorts as "Malice In The Palace," "Slaphappy Sleuths," and "Sing A Song Of Six Pants," where, for maybe a half-minute, Shemp lip-reads the funny pages and breaks out in his distinctively brash laughter. That strange sequence alone defines Shemp. He should've been courted by the Surrealists.

Shemp had a fine solo career as well, starring in his own series of comedy shorts like "Smoked Hams," "Open Season For Saps," and "The Knife Of The Party," which has the only appearance of "Shemp's Stooges," a faceless group that served as a mere target for Shemp's rather violent slapstick. He also appeared in several features, most notably "The Bank Dick" with W.C. Fields, though he's somewhat muted as Joe the Bartender. Still, just watching Shemp lightens my mood. I don't think there's a comic alive who can make me laugh so easily or so deeply.

I've just come across two Shemp sites -- one run by his granddaughters, the other simply called Wall of Shemp. And by all means watch Shemp whenever you can. It'll extend your life. Heep!