Research by accident

One day backstage in the ’30s, Larry, Shemp, and Moe were playing cards. 
Shemp accused Larry of cheating. After a heated argument, Shemp reached over and stuck his fingers in Larry’s eyes. Moe, watching, thought it was hilarious…and that’s how the famous poke-in-the-eyes routine was born.

Here is much more, via Craig Newmark.  If you have any evolutionary biology "just so" stories as to why women don’t like The Three Stooges, I’d like to hear them.


No comments so far? Hmm... I'd say the stooges are low status individuals, allowing for men to feel greater status watching them (the superiority theory of laughter), while women shun the stooges weak value, opting instead for the stylings of more attractive/alpha comedians, like Dane Cook.

I suspect that women enjoy relationship oriented humor (like romantic comedies)because they are more socially/group oriented. Men like slapstick (Three Stooges) because they are more visually oriented, and because men are less empathetic and risk adverse than women.

I can imagine some experiments that would test this hypothesis.

I wonder of Tyler's point is that there are 10,000 possible ad hoc evolutionary psych. explanations for this phenomenon. Perhaps Tyler is doubtful of Evolutionary psych's predictive usefulness?

Oops, silly me, I wrote as though women were more likely to spawn women and men are more likely to spawn men!


The women in the Stooge shorts often get the upperhand against their nonsense, but it is usually the upperhand -- violent slaps against the boys.

Compare that to the Honeymooners. There it is not only that Alice gets the upperhand against the male-childish stupidity of Ralph, but she does so with grace and hilarious one-liners. She offers the foil against the boys -- an evaluative benchmark, if you will -- that clearly demonstrates the stupidity *and* weakness of their chauvanistic ways without the need for female slapstick comedy.

On further thought, I think my story might be salvageable, if the turmoil following the overthrow of the social order imperils existing children and/or makes child-rearing less viable for a spell (because women have a shorter fertility/spawning window than men do).


"Finally, there is a gendered dynamic operating as well in such comedy. For the most part, men tend to favor slapstick and crude kinds of humor (e.g. the fart joke or other gross bodily functions), while women tend to favor more relationally based humor. Most women do not relate to the Three Stooges, for example, but many men do. This may reflect cultural norms for the sexes, along with differences in how both grow up and are socialized. Boys games, for example, tend to feature a lot of rough-and-tumble group play, whereas girls games feature more relational one-on-one activities like tea parties, playing with dolls, dress-up, etc. Even girl group activities, such as shopping, or playing jump rope, tend to have relational dynamics in them.

"This is not to say that girls (or women) don't have taboo impulses or cruel streaks, but it comes out more frequently in verbal humor than in physical humor (as demonstrated in the film "Mean Girls"). Yet this gender dimension is only a generalization, as there certainly are many women who enjoy slapstick humor (I'm one of them), and many men enjoy relational (romantic) comedy (my spouse is one of those)."

I think the first comment is on the right track. The 3 Stooges are extremely sexually undesirable, or infantile, in both action and appearance, so the pathos (or disgust) is more immediate to women than the humor. Whereas Laurel & Hardy, Chaplin, Keaton, Marx Bros., etc., the humor can get through.

My sister and I (also a woman) loved The Three Stooges when we were kids. I don't know if I would now if introduced to them for the first time. Maybe men retain a taste for juvenile humor that women lose somewhere.

The comment by StreetWalker sounds a lot like mine. A school of thought!

Some of the people here are on the right track when they try to come up with explanations for the real mystery, why the Stooges are amusing to (some) men.

I'm a guy and I've never found them anything but irritating.

Why not give security to your fam for the holidays? Lots of good deals on AV out there. Just saw Panda Security for $20, good until new year's day, apparently:

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