For those that have listened to Howard Stern over the years, it should come as no surprise that the radio entertainer has a deep appreciation of the Three Stooges. Besides sharing a name – Moe, Shemp and Curly were the brothers Howard – the radio jock often turned to Stooge humor during his early years on the air. Stern fans might recall various bits with Larry Fine impressions on WNBC.
So when Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron stopped by Stern’s show on Sirius XM Radio earlier this year he revealed his own connection to the Three Stooges. It turns out that in the 70’s Bergeron tracked down Moe Howard and Larry Fine, both living in Los Angeles at the time, and recorded phone interviews with the comedic legends. After promising to dig up these preserved recordings, Bergeron helped assemble a new two-hour radio special airing Friday on Howard’s Sirius XM channel 101.
The Three Stooges: Lost and Found Interviews begins with Bergeron telling listeners, “If you’re a Stooge nut like me and Howard, you won’t want to miss it.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Besides the two interviews with Moe and Larry, this special includes various Stern bits that aired over the years as well as Bergeron talking about his experience tracking down the aged stars nearly 40 years ago.
“How did the Three Stooges begin?” a 16-year-old Bergeron first asks Moe Howard. Surprisingly, Moe is not only gracious throughout this basically cold call from a teenager but he provides some great commentary on his time in show business. He reminisces about the Stooges’ start in vaudeville with performer Ted Healy – the original lineup was Moe, Larry and Shemp. After a good run, the trio split from Healy and signed with Columbia Pictures to do short films. And that’s when Moe’s younger brother Curly joined the gang.
The Stern special is sprinkled with great insight from Moe, including his take on slapstick comedy. “Slapstick belongs to the circus,” he tells Bergeron, adding that the Stooges did farce. Another gem is delivered following Bergeron asking Moe about other popular comics of the day. “You put Bob Hope in one of our comedies, he wouldn’t know what the hell to do.”
Perhaps the most touching aspect of this special comes from the interview with Larry Fine. Confined to the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, Calif. following a stroke, Fine’s speech is often slurred and faint. Larry makes a point about the way humor had gone since the Three Stooges left show business. “You don’t have to be dirty to be funny,” he says, which in a sense is slightly ironic, seeing how this is being aired on Stern’s show.
There is no disputing that Howard Stern is a master at his craft, nor is there any disputing that the Three Stooges were the greatest comedic team producing film shorts during Hollywood’s early years. The Three Stooges: Lost and Found Interviews is a “can’t miss moment” for all lovers of pop culture. And knowing Stern there is bound to be multiple repeats of this gem on Sirius XM.