Yes, you heard right. If you were watching the YouTube-only Overtime segment of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher tonight, you might have learned something new about former congressman Barney Frank: His cousin was a Stooge.
Shemp, to be specific, and a first cousin once removed, to be precise.
The former Massachusetts congressman, along with Maher and Real Time guest Bob Costas, were discussing the controversy over ESPN’s Jemele Hill, who caused a firestorm by tweeting that Donald Trump is a white supremacist.
Costas suggested that Twitter was an inappropriate venue for “a bold face name” to make such a point, given Hill’s status as an employee of a corporation like ESPN. Hill, he said, could have made her opinion known more elegantly.
Maher disagreed, saying Twitter was as good a place as any. “She’s a human being,” he said. “She’s a citizen.”
And besides, interjected Frank, “Accusing someone of treating Trump inelegantly is like saying someone was silly about the Three Stooges.”
Taking the bait, Costas opined, unaware of any secret family connections, “I never thought Shemp got his due.”
That’s when Frank dropped the bomb. “Married to my cousin,” he said at the mention of Shemp. “Babe Frank, Shemp’s wife, was my father’s cousin.” (Babe’s real name was Gertrude Frank, and she married Samuel Horwitz, aka Shemp Howard, in 1925.)
The panelists, including Martin Short, were rightfully impressed. “Babe and Shemp,” said Short. “What a team.”
Not to be outdone, Maher said, “My second cousin was Stubby Kaye.”
“Is that true?” asked a sincerely surprised Short.
“No, I’m bragging,” said Maher, winning a laugh worthy of any Stooge.
Watch the exchange in the video above. The Stooge revelation arrives at about the 7:50 mark.