Kings Of Comedy #4

Posted by Lord Bearkeeper OBE DASc on
Category: Comedy40 Comments

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Today we are continuing our series of posts where we share some of our favourite comedians and comedy routines with you. We love comedy here at Jammy Toast, be it from old masters or young pretenders. People like Peter Kay, Jeff Dunham, Sacha Baron Cohen, John Bishop and Jerry Sadowitz amongst the newer comedians with Ken Dodd, Mickey Finn, Morecambe and Wise and Eddie Flannigan amongst the older funny men. From time to time we will share some of our favourite comedians and today we thought we would keep the ball rolling with

Abbott and Costello were an American comedy duo composed of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, whose work on radio and in film and television made them the most popular comedy team of the 1940s and early 1950s. Their patter routine “Who’s on First?” is one of the best-known comedy routines of all time, and set the framework for many of their best-known comedy.

The team’s first known radio broadcast was in 1938 and at first, the similarities between their voices made it difficult for radio listeners to tell them apart. As a result, Costello affected a high-pitched, childish voice. “Who’s on First?” was first performed for a national radio audience that year.

The “Who’s on First?” sketch was based on other burlesque wordplay routines. Depending upon the version, Abbott has either organized a new baseball team and the players have nicknames, or he points out the proliferation of nicknames in baseball. The infielders’ nicknames are Who (1st Base), What (2nd Base) and I Dunno (3rd Base). The key to the routine is Costello’s persistent confusion over pronouns, set against Abbott’s unwavering nonchalance.

Abbott and Costello began honing the routine shortly after teaming up in 1936, and performed it in vaudeville acts in 1937 and 1938. It was first heard by a national radio audience in March 1938 when the team was on the Kate Smith Radio Show. The sketch is believed to be available in as many as twenty different versions, ranging from one minute to about ten minutes. The team could time the routine at will, adding or deleting portions as needed for films, radio or television. The longest version is seen in “The Actors’ Home” episode of their filmed TV series…

Who's On First

Abbott & Costello – Who’s On First.

Sadly, the duo’s popularity declined in the 1950s mostly the reason for their decline was overexposure. Universal dropped the comedy team in 1955 after they could not agree on contract terms. The Internal Revenue Service charged them for back taxes, forcing them to sell their homes and most of their assets, including the rights to most of their films.

In his last years, Costello made about ten solo appearances on The Steve Allen Show doing many of the old routines without Abbott. On 3rd March 1959, not long after completing a lone solo film he died of a heart attack three days short of his 53rd birthday.

Abbott attempted a comeback in 1960 with Candy Candido. Although the new act received good reviews, Bud quit, saying, “No one could ever live up to Lou.” In 1966, Abbott voiced his character in a series of 156 five-minute Abbott and Costello cartoons made by Hanna-Barbera. Lou’s character was voiced by Stan Irwin. Bud Abbott died of cancer on 24th April 1974.

They are the only “non-baseball personnel” to be memorialized in the Baseball Hall of Fame. A plaque and a gold record of the “Who’s On First?” sketch have been on permanent display there since 1956, and the routine runs on an endless video loop in the exhibit area.

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About the Author

Lord Bearkeeper OBE DASc

A sad and lonely old man who used to have a life but it has now been taken over by his dedication to the cause of saving Renault Bears, running Jammy Toast and searching eBay, car boot sales, charity shops, lofts and even under beds for his beloved bears. He has even now taken in Flat Eric to save him from homelessness – his life is no longer his own!

40 Comments on “Kings Of Comedy #4”

    1. Ya Dont Noo Is Namee ?? Ffss Well Yaa Cntt See Imm NoMoree .. Iff I Findd Owtt Yaa Doo EnyFinkk Wivv Eny1 Ndd I’ll Fkin Kill Yaa !!

      Andd Wtff Is Wif Dis Birds Nd Da Bees Fing ??

  1. So I am watching IT with 13 yr old.

    13: “Why does he want to eat the children?”
    Me: “Because he’s hungry”
    13: “Can’t he just make a sandwich?”
    Me “He feeds off fear”
    13: “Well I’m scared of your cooking. You make him a sandwich.”

    Legit, I have no comeback for that.

  2. So excited to finally be able to tell you this news (on this very snowy day :snow: ) I’ll be co-hosting a new weekend show with Matt Edmondson on Radio1. Proper excited for my new chapter, I bloody love doing radio!! :radio:

  3. Have you ever loved someone enough to get your asshole bleached? I mean, come on, baby, couldn’t we just bleach your eyes instead?

    (Conversation is imaginary. Terms and conditions apply.)

  4. Here’s a new drinking game: Take a shot everytime you hear someone tell another unoriginal joke about fucking detergent pods.

    I’ll meet you in the renal failure ward. :mad:

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