Three Stooges festival comes to Maumee Indoor TheatreWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“What’s the big idea?!?”
I’ll tell you — generations of fans have had only one way to watch the classic comic antics of The Three Stooges: On television. Television! They had no choice! They were “victims of soicumstance!” If they could watch them on the big screen, they “soitenly” would!
Now, thanks to the efforts of Evan J. Chase, chairman of the Lyric Photoplay Society (LPS), fans will finally get a chance to see some classic Stooges shorts as they were meant to be seen — on a movie screen.
As Curly would say, “Oh boy!”
“As far as I can remember, a Stooges festival has never been done in Toledo,” Chase said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. That will change Feb. 26 at the Maumee Indoor Theatre with a marathon of six classic Stooges shorts. The program will be shown at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“The idea of seeing them in a theater, not only to enjoy them with an audience, it’s also appreciated to see them on the big screen, because a lot of their comedy was sight gags. And sight gags, when you see them blown up on the big screen, have a lot more impact than trying to make them out on a small TV screen,” Chase said.
‘Oh, a wise guy, eh?’
Chase has many memories of the antics of Moe Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine extending back to childhood, growing up in Toledo’s Old West End. He fondly recalled watching the shorts as they were broadcast by WXYZ Channel 7 in Detroit.
“I just remember how, even as a kid, there was so much to see and so much comedy in them,” Chase said, noting how he and his friends would imitate Curly’s famous “woo-woo-hoo” sounds while playing.
His fondness for the trio continued throughout his life, and now, as the head of the LPS, he plays a big role in arranging the screening of classic films for a new generation.
“Basically, it’s a committee of one, and I’m the head, president, chairman, projectionist, programmer — basically, anybody who is on my mailing list is a quote-unquote ‘member,’” Chase said.
Chase heads up screenings of classic shows not only in Maumee but at the Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield, and he also runs an annual show at the Way Library in Perrysburg.
“They actually book the movies, but I pick them, and of course I host them — I do an onstage intro before each showing with some interesting things about the background about the movies,” he said.
Chase said screening the Stooges’ comedies fit perfectly into the goals of LPS, noting how their work has survived the decades with not even a hint of feeling dated.
“The Three Stooges have this edge — they have an edge that none of the other comedians of the ’30s have,” he said. “There’s a certain, I don’t know if it’s a subliminal thing where especially guys get a kick out of The Stooges, because they have this aggression, this passive aggression where they — boy, if somebody said that to me, I’d feel like slapping them! Even though I wouldn’t dare.”
‘What’s the idea?’
Eric Lamond knows about the staying power of The Stooges. He’s played a big role in preserving that longevity for the past ten years. Since 2002, he has been the director of marketing for C3 Entertainment, a company founded by the comedians in 1959.
But Lamond has a much more personal relationship with The Stooges’ legacy — he is Larry Fine’s grandson. As a young man, he got a chance to work with his grandfather on several TV specials and Lamond even had small roles in some of the feature films they made.
“The real fun part was when they did the cartoon series in the mid-’60s, the cartoon section had live wraparounds, and I worked on the production staff and was in many of those. So, I worked with Larry, Moe and Curly Joe DeRita for about three months,” Lamond said. (DeRita was the third Stooge during the trio’s 1960s comeback, following the passing of Curly and Shemp Howard.)
“And that is when I learned just how hard these guys worked — watching them every day, not only performing for the camera, but the amount of time they took in rehearsal and practicing bits and schtick and gags that they had been doing, in Larry and Moe’s case, together for decades.
“I realized why they were so good. One, they loved what they were doing. Two, they worked incredibly hard at it.”
Now, through his work with C3, Lamond plays an active role in the continuing presence of the Stooges in world entertainment.
“Any use of The Three Stooges in merchandising, any use in commercials or other content comes through us, goes through a licensing process and an approval process. We basically guard that legacy from start to finish.”
C3’s involvement in every aspect of such productions includes the upcoming new movie version of The Stooges, directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly of “There’s Something About Mary” fame. The new film will be released into theaters April 13.
“It’s been a project that we at C3 have basically been the driving force behind,” Lamond said. “We fortunately had the Farrelly brothers involved, and for them, it’s been a passion project — they’ve wanted to do this, they worked incredibly hard on the script, because not only are they terrific moviemakers, they’re big fans.”
But of course, no new group of Stooges will ever really be able to eclipse the work of the originals — something Chase hopes fans will experience firsthand at the Maumee festival Feb. 26.
“I hope they can really see these movies in a way they’ve never experienced them before, and actually see more of the nuances and the little things that they missed on TV, or that they just didn’t pick up. And we have all the restored prints of these movies, so they’re uncut,” Chase said.
Lamond said the trio’s comedy will continue to stand the test of time.
“What they do is timeless. They don’t age out or get stale, because what they do is funny. And something that is funny, inherently funny, stays funny,” he said.
Admission to the Stooges festival will be $5. For more information, call (419) 389-9334. The Maumee Indoor Theatre is located at 601 Conant St. in Maumee.