The Stoogeum: Laughter as Panacea

It’s the laughter that gets you the first time you visit the Stoogeum near Ambler. Giggles aren’t an everyday occurrence in your average museum, but they have them in spades at this office-park shrine to Larry, Curly, and Moe. It seems like every knucklehead…er, visitor…in the Stoogeum is chuckling over something, whether it’s the comedy sketches playing on TVs on every floor, the vintage pinball machine, or the wall of comic strips, from Nancy to Calvin and Hobbes, that make reference to TV’s eye-poking comic geniuses.

Whether you’re a fan of or not, this is museum-going at its finest and funniest. It’s way more than someone’s dusty collection of shot glasses and vanity license plates. Founder Gary Lassin, a lifelong Stooges fan, also happened to marry the granddaughter of Larry Fine’s brother (Local trivia: Larry was born Louis Feinberg near 3rd and South Streets and was the only Stooge from Philadelphia.) The amazing collection includes signed Columbia Pictures contracts (showing how their salaries rose from $200 to $1,500 a week in the 1930s); TV and movie props, like the flying submarine tank from The Three Stooges in Orbit; and a marketing empire as savvy as the Walt Disney Co. (cereal boxes, Colorforms, thimbles, toilet paper, and much more). There’s a state-of-the-art screening room playing Stooges shorts all day and interactive “Stoogeology 101” screens that urge you to “poke Curly in the eye” to get started.

You’ll probably come away with a better understanding of Shemp Howard (who replaced his brother Curly in the 1940s) and of the fact that the Stooges were men struggling with real issues when they weren’t throwing pies at each other.

But most likely of all, you’ll leave with a belly aching from laughing so much.

The Stoogeum is open the following Saturdays in 2012: Oct. 6, Nov. 17 and Dec. 22. It’s free, it’s about a 30-minute drive from Philadelphia, and kids are welcome (my 7-year-old loved it).

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