If you’re of a certain age, or of a certain pop culture persuasion, you surely recognize this old-time vaudeville style bit. A stranger relates a long, sad tale of woe, punctuated with violence and pummeling against the poor innocent who merely stopped to listen.
Everyone knows it’s from the classic Three Stooges short “Gents Without Cents” (1944), and is part of an act “The Stoogey Ones” performed, giving poor Culry the worst of it every time. Right? …And so that is what I believed, for many, many years.
I continued to believe that when I became reacquainted with “Niagara Falls”, while viewing “Gents Without Cents” once again as part of the DVD set THE THREE STOOGES COLLECTION Volume Four 1943-1945, released in 2008.
Then, to my surprise, the “Niagara Falls” bit turned up courtesy of another great comedy act, as part of the recent DVD release THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW The Complete Series.
In the third episode of the series, simply titled “Jail”, poor Lou goes to “guess where” when Bud and a shifty lawyer talk him out of paying 79 cents for a damaged water bucket and into fighting the charges instead.
Naturally, Costello spends Act Two in jail, and his disheveled cellmate does an even longer and more elaborate version of the “Niagara Falls” bit on him with the expected results. At the end even Costello gets into the act by doing his own version – naming various cities in New Jersey beginning with his birthplace Paterson, before ending up at the dreaded “Niagara Falls”.
Take your pick as to whether The Three Stooges or Abbott and Costello did it better. I love ‘em both.
And, according to THIS PIECE, it even turned up on I LOVE LUCY.
Check it out, and learn all about this classic bit… before someone tries it out on you!