Life is funny, but there are only a few comedians, movies, or comedy troupes that can make me laugh out loud consistently. Among them are the many films of Mel Brooks (from Spaceballs and earlier), George Carlin's comedy routines, Monty Python sketches, and Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine. All of these comedy greats are masters of pointing out the absurdities of the English language.
Over the last few years, I've been introducing my kids to some of these older comic greats as they've become more comfortable with language and responsibility. Since I'm not quite ready to get the call from the Principal about one of them using Carlin's "Seven Words" routine in class, I've been seeking some of the comedy greats from television before swearing was commonplace. When I saw that Entertainment One U.S. would be distributing DVDs of some of the The Abbott & Costello Show episodes from the 1950s, I knew it was a perfect opportunity to share more wordplay with my kids.
Like many comedy groups of that era, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello started long before television. They started with stage routines, eventually moving to movies and radio, and finally to television. In 1952, The Abbott and Costello Show entered syndication on stations around the country and the pair were able to use many of the same routines on television as they did on stage, screen and radio.
It's impossible for me to think about the pair without thinking of their "Who's on First?" routine. The combination of word play and confusion, for both Lou and the audience, made it an instant classic. If you don't know the routine, it's about the names of the baseball players on a team Abbott manages. The first baseman's name is "Who," the second baseman's name is "What" and the third baseman's name is "I Don't Know." You can imagine the confusion as they try to answer the question of "Who's on First?" "Who." "Exactly - who's on first?" "Right! Who's on First..."