The Larry Shuffle

By Jere Hester
|  Tuesday, Jun 23, 2009  |  Updated 4:03 PM PDT
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The Larry Shuffle

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This is what Sean Penn will be missing.

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The casting notice might look something like this: Wanted: One stooge. Must be able to withstand face slaps, eye pokes and constant verbal abuse. Bozo-like hair a plus.

News that Sean Penn has bowed out of playing the pivotal role of Larry in the Farrelly Brother's planned Three Stooges flick may be the biggest blow to hit the slapstick franchise since Curly's retirement more than six decades ago.

Jim Carrey (the new Curly) and Benicio del Toro (the new Moe) need a new co-star now that they won't have Penn to kick around anymore.

Larry, the Rodney Dangerfield of the Stooges, has a thankless, yet key function: he’s a reliable masochist – and a sadist only in self-defense. “The pain,” Larry Fine is said to have quipped, “goes away on payday.”

The Three Stooges: Curly's Sweater

The original Stooges, over the years, withstood numerous Curly shuffles. Curly both followed and succeeded his brother Shemp. Then came Joe Besser and Curly Joe DeRita. Throughout it all, Larry was there, absorbing Moe's abuse well into his 60s. Larry is arguably the hardest Stooge to replace – the defining element of his personality is that he didn't really have one.

So who in Hollywood is up to this monumental task, now that an Academy Award winner like Penn is out of the picture? “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Larry David played the Larry part in sketches three decades ago on "Fridays," ABC’s old SNL clone, but he's no doubt long past that phase of his career.

We're going to put out a casting call: who do you think should play Larry? With the movie reportedly set to start filming in August, the Farrellys will have to move quickly. Use the comments section below to help them out.

Remember: a lot of nyuck, nyuck, nyucks are depending on your answer.

 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.

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