Stooges In The World

#anger management tips #anger issues #road rage tips #family communication #conflict resolution #poor communication Feb 15, 2023

Stooges in the World


When I hear the word ‘stooge’ I can’t help but go back into my childhood time-machine and remember watching so many episodes of the Three Stooges. Witnessing Moe, Larry, and the various third stooges (Curly, Shemp, or Curly Joe) was a comforting yet strange phenomenon of my childhood.


Well, to begin with, I knew it was a show and that they weren’t really hurting each other. 

Secondly, in many ways, they were very likable - especially Curly. While I enjoyed Moe’s leadership in many ways, I couldn’t help but notice that he delved out most of the punishment. The various ways he tortured his ‘friends’ was unique and very skilled as it really looked like he was inflicting damage.

This leads me to the topic of this short little piece.

The stooges in the real world.

I’m talking about those people like Larry and Curly - people who are often the butt of people’s jokes. I especially remember how easy it was to witness and, in some cases, participate in the joking, teasing, or the treating someone like a stooge.

Remember the childhood teasing that you saw, witnessed, and maybe experienced?

While I have zero doubt that it still goes on in our public school years, I wonder how this may show up in our adult life? The childhood process of teasing people brutally is still alive and well because I ask my college students every semester about this and they all tell me that they remember it very, very vividly.

While kids usually grow out of it, it is not a guarantee.

Think in your life when you may have seen someone who didn’t quite grow out of that childhood teasing, or as I like to say, stooging. These people, at least the adult ones that I’ve seen, tend to be very much like Moe in that they tend to take charge or try to, and they tend to discount in very subtle (sometimes not so subtle) ways anyone who goes against their stance. I have seen this in many situations and it makes me wonder how and why they choose to be that type of person (Moe).

How to deal with a stooge?

I’ve talked with my wife about this and she is of the mind to just avoid people like this. 

I can’t say that’s a terrible idea, and for some people, my wife included, it is their go-to strategy. However, I’m not quite set up that way. I tend to ask people gentle questions that get them to look at their behavior. They almost always invariably say, “I’m joking…Just messing with the guy/girl.” 

Well, when it is the same person, the same type of controlling and demeaning communication pattern, it’s not really joking.

Oftentimes with adults who have a bit of introspective capabilities, simply bringing this up gently can have a positive effect on them. Sometimes, it takes constant reminders that they’re doing it again before they start to get it. Rarely, and in my experience, it has never happened that when I, again, gently question them and their verbal choices, they get angry and it escalates. Usually, after the first time it greatly diminishes their future nasty comments. If it happens and they get called out a second time, it usually is much more embarrassing and while it may not be instantaneous, they realize that someone is calling them on this again, in a nice and gentle manner.

Laughing at a show where people are acting and treating each other in ways I would never accept or want to be treated is one thing, but witnessing it in real life… Hmmm… That is where I would like to think that most of us would stand up and say something to at least get the “Moe” to look at what they’re doing. Thankfully, most of those who acted like stooges when we were younger, grew our emotional intelligence enough so that when someone called us on our teasing, we recognized it and did the best we could to change that behavior.

As a kid, I remember being a “Moe” at times. 

I’m glad I haven’t forgotten it as I sincerely don’t want to be one as an adult and the memories of me being mean to another are still very accessible in my memory. This helps remind me of how I don’t want to be.

Do you remember your time as a stooge?

Which one were you?

Please tell me you’ve grown out of it!

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