I'll confess. I've never been a fan of Shemp. But I never really hated him either. I suppose I'm a bit jaded because I'm comparing him to Curly. For some reason, Curly added a sort of balance to the Three Stooges because he was so off the wall and had a natural talent for physical comedy. And his back and forth antics with Moe are always funny. You always catch something new every time you watch the shorts again.
I think Shemp's problem is he looked too much like Moe. He was Moe's older brother but the two looked like they could have been twins. It's strange how that works with siblings where one can almost look like a carbon copy and another sibling looks like he came from another family altogether.
Which is possibly a huge reason I can relate to Curly ;-)
But having watched Joe Besser for the first time a couple years back, it gave me a new found appreciation for Shemp.
I used to confuse Joe Besser with Curly-Joe. But I found out they were too different people and that made me tolerate Curly-Joe a bit more when I finally saw a Stooge film with Curly-Joe. He was still a very bland substitute for Curly but at the same time he wasn't at all as flesh-crawlingly obnoxious as Joe Besser. The moment you see Joe Besser say "Hello" in the opening credits you want to throw your cat at the television set.
But back to Shemp.
That made me appreciate Shemp a lot more. I still won't go out of my way to buy a collection of Stooge films with Shemp on them. But it's an unfair comparison. Curly was an original. Shemp never wanted to be a permanent replacement of Curly in the later films.
A good example of you do things to help out family.
But Shemp was also a Stooge before Curly. And he was a brother. Which, even though I'm still not a complete fan, makes him a genuine Stooge next to Joe Besser and Curly-Joe. ESPECIALLY Joe Besser.
Again with Curly-Joe, it was around the time Moe and Larry were well past their prime. And you probably really couldn't get away with some of the stuff they did back in the 30's and 40's (and even 50's). And physically probably couldn't get away with what they did in their prime.
I guess you could compare Curly-Joe to trying to replace a favorite cat with one that looks somewhat similar. It may resemble the cat you lost but it's not the same. There was just something about that cat's mannerisms you adored and this new cat may be nice and look practically the same. But in your mind, the first cat just cannot be replaced.
And it's funny to think there might have been a post-Larry Fine Three Stooges line up in 1975 which was never fully realized because of the death of Moe Howard.
Taking all that in consideration, I'm a bit more sympathetic towards Shemp than I used to be. But I'll still enjoy the shorts with Curly a lot more.