The Greatest Comedy Trios in Film History
They say good things come in threes, and nothing could be more true in the case of the greatest comedy trios in film history. Since the 1930s, comedy has been best encapsulated by groups of three, beginning with simple slapstick up to today’s explosive buddy comedies. With nearly a hundred years of history, check out some of the greatest 3-man teams, especially of the past 30 years, to grace the silver screen and still hold a comedy candle today.
Three Stooges (1932)
Though the oldest and most iconic trio originally began in 1930, it wasn’t until 1932 that the eye-gauging, face-slapping knuckleheads introduced Curly to the crew, which continued on until 1946. In that time, the comedy trio became officially known as “The Three Stooges” after going by “Ted Healy and His Stooges” (also known as “Ted Healy and His Southern Gentlemen,” “Ted Healy and His Three Lost Souls,” “Ted Healy and His Racketeers” and “Ted Healy and his Three Stooges”). Of the nearly 200 films released under their franchise name, these three starred in only a dozen of them together. Larry, Moe and Curly were played respectively by Louis Feinberg, Moe Horwitz and Jerome Horwitz, all of which are deceased.
The classic cult comedy that gets better and more popular with age — until they destroy it — is the “Ghostbusters” franchise, started originally by the “Saturday Night Live” comedy trio Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. The first film was set to feature John Belushi, but upon his demise, Bill Murray stepped in. The trio would later go on to add Ernie Hudson as a fourth. The franchise is set to be rebooted by an all-female cast led by Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig with a possible all-male reboot right behind the ladies.
¡Three Amigos! (1986)
Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short banded together in their prime to create another one of the 1980s most lovable comedy trios. Three silent film stars are mistakenly identified as heroes, and despite their clear lack of heroism, the threesome goes from Hollywood to a small Mexican village to save its people from El Guapo, a notorious Mexican bandit. The film also stars one of the deceased “SNL” greats, Phil Hartman.
The ‘Burbs (1989)
Bruce Dern and Rick Ducommun also star in one of the three greatest Tom Hanks-led ’80s comedies, three of the greatest comedies in general. The three are suburbanite neighbors: Hanks plays the responsible practical neighbor, Dern the crazy ex-war vet with a hot wife and Ducommun the childish fat guy stuck in his adolescence. When the three notice a disturbance in their neighborhood, they go for the ghost stories only to find out they’re true. A young Corey Feldman also stars in the classic suburban satire.
City Slickers (1991)
Following the days of “When Harry Met Sally…,” Billy Crystal went on a cattle drive in a pair of “City Slickers” films with Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby. On the cusp of going over the hill as 40-somethings, three urban New Yorkers take a vacation from the wives into the outback for a little adventure and self discovery (i.e. hilarious escapades for the early ’90s). Jack Palance also drops in to teach Crystal about the meaning of life.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Everyone loves The Dude, but he wouldn’t be nearly as cool without John Goodman and Steve Buscemi on each side. In an unfortunate coincidence as having the same name as someone who owes a lot of people a lot of money, Jeff Lebowski offers relentless stoner wisdom and comedic moments with his bowling buddies. “Shut the fuck up, Donny.”
Old School (2003)
Nothing can top Will Ferrell, especially when he’s matched with comedic greats like Vince Vaughn (and Luke Wilson, I suppose). In the early Todd Phillips film days, we see them mesh perfectly in “Old School,” a film about getting old but not growing up as three middle-aged dudes take over a campus with a made-up fraternity and a bit of jello. The greats revisited the scene in “Wedding Crashers” with the Wilson brother swap and knocked it out of the park yet again.
The bumbling life of teen angst and raging hormones will lead just about any group of co-dependent teenagers to buy fake IDs and drink alcohol from a gas can. Jonah Hill stars in his first lead comedy role alongside his lifelong pal (Michael Cera) and the ever-adorkable McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in this buddy comedy with a third nerd on the side. As dreamers of boob touching and ass pinching for the first time, watch a trio of virgins grow up a little quicker than they’re capable of as they try to score the booze and babes of the decadent high school high life with the smoothness of sand paper and the hair styles of a sprouting patch of pubes.
The Hangover (2009)
Todd Phillips revisited the buddy comedy scene by directing Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms in his first trio trilogy starting in 2009. Set in Las Vegas on a simple four-man bachelor party, the life of a soon-to-be groom becomes uncertain as all of their lives are turned upside down by the ignorant wrongdoings of one arduous Alan (Galifianakis). As the stakes increased with each film, the comedic value dwindled, but the lead-off film was an edgy turning point in buddy comedy moviess that has taken the comedy film scene to a higher standard.
Horrible Bosses (2011)
A worst-case scenario of supervising sons of bitches leads three good-natured subordinates (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudekis) to take matters into their own hands by killing each others’ bosses (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell). In the most successful present day comedy trio, these three stumble through the life of cold blooded serial killing with the help of one bad ass mother fucker, Mother Fucker Jones himself (Jamie Foxx).