Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Curly may seem like just a hare-brained simpleton at first glance, but he's actually a fighting machine whenever he hears the song, "Pop Goes the Weasel." In the episode Punch Drunks, Moe takes advantage of this situation and advertises Curly as the next great boxer.
Face of a Thug: As Moe put it in one short, "Sometimes I think you should get a new face. You scare people." And according to those who knew him, the trope was played even straighter in real life. He even called himself "The Ugliest Man in Hollywood" once as part of a publicity stunt!
Idiot Houdini: A meta enforced example, Joe's contract initially enforced he didn't take part in the Comedic Sociopathy. There were notable exceptions however.
The Scrappy: Nobody liked poor Besser. Even Curly Joe didnt get it as badly as he did.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted — instead of emulating Curly or Shemp, he used the "whiny man-child" persona he established in previous roles. This, combined with the "no physical abuse" clause, didn't help him gain any fans.
Stage Name: Curly Joe's real name was Joseph Wardell. His stage name was initially Joe DeRita; the "Curly" was added to avoid confusion with Joe Besser.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: At least physically. When he first joined, he styled his hair like Shemp. However, when the Curly shorts returned to popularity on television, he shaved his hair to look more like him. Persona-wise, however, he wasn't as manic as Curly and had a bit more backbone, occasionally daring to talk back to Moe. note This could be attributed to the Stooges toning down the physical violence around that time and/or to a conscious decision by DeRita to not copy Curly.