Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

February 28, 2013

The winter ‘Stoogefest’ returns to the Riviera Theatre

Niagara Gazette — It has come to this: the Three Stooges tribute event at North Tonawanda’s opulent Riviera Theatre has securely become a twice-a-year event, and will take place again Saturday evening.

 “It’s our second meeting,” says impresario and organizer Len Potwora of the winter “Stoogefest”. “We’ll do our 22nd version this summer.”

He refers to the night as a meeting. It is more like a convocation, a tribal gathering of fans of this remarkably durable and influential trio of film comedians, whose 190 short films, over 26 years beginning in 1934, have been a touchstone across generations. Available for years in theaters as pre-feature “short subjects”, then on television because their duration meshed perfectly with half-hour scheduling formats, and now on DVD, Stooges episodes are fast, loud, good-naturedly violent examples of what was known in American vaudeville as “knockabout comedy”.

Years after their production, they resonate with succeeding generations of fans. Available for sale, in a box the size of a small cinder block, is the complete work of the Three Stooges on disc (plus an assortment of other features), a 71-hour hour oeuvre that should keep any Stooge enthusiast happy and busy.

Yet, they come out to the Riviera, twice a year now, to commune with other Stooge fans, in a remarkable demonstration of a number of things: the joy of 1,000 people collectively laughing for two or more hours, the memories of watching this stuff on television many years ago, the pan-generational appeal of Curley Howard, Larry Fine and Moe Howard.

It is not unusual to see three or more generations of a family at “Stoogefest”, as well as couples on dates, college guys or old-timers. Other film comedians — Chaplin, Fields, the Marxes — may have more secure places in Hollywood’s pantheon and in the hearts of critics, but no one does it like the Three Stooges.

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