Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Week of A&C #2


Yesterday, you saw Abbott and Costello's impeccable comedic timing on display, even without an audience. Today, here's an example of their impeccable wordplay...with an audience or a laugh track, I'm not sure which. Either way, it's a study in expert timing and chemistry...

2 comments:

  1. I’ve often heard that there are THREE truly classic Black and White TV shows: I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and The Twilight Zone.

    Why is THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW not counted among them?! It is every bit as funny as the two comedies in that hallowed grouping – and seeing it on DVD more recently, often makes me laugh out loud!

    Further, now that I’m working my way through the films via Universal’s chronological “Best of Abbott and Costello” sets (which omit only a few stragglers that were independently produced, or when A&C were out “on-loan”) you can see how deftly THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW works routines from the films – and, before that, presumably from radio and/or their stage act – into each episode of the TV series.

    For instance, check out the A&CS episode “The Army Story”, which clearly adapts comedy-routine material from the classic film “Buck Privates”. Between the two, you end up with “Buck-And-A-Half-Privates”!

    …Still wanna “interview” me after that?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Joe!

      "I’ve often heard that there are THREE truly classic Black and White TV shows: I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and The Twilight Zone."

      I love all of those shows, but I would have to disagree passionately with those who assert this. Yes, these are the three shows that get the most rerun time, but to narrow the fifties down to three quality shows is hanging the pioneering decade of television out to dry. There were scores of other shows that deserve recognition, including THE BURNS AND ALLEN SHOW, myriad anthology series, JACK BENNY, LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, etc.

      "Why is THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW not counted among them?! It is every bit as funny as the two comedies in that hallowed grouping – and seeing it on DVD more recently, often makes me laugh out loud!"

      AND...THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW. I first discovered these programs when they were reran back in the late nineties on our local TV affiliate at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sundays. I religiously set the VCR to record them.

      Each installment was more often than not a riot and filled with the kind of anarchic mayhem that their radio show was known for. (It has been said that their radio show probably logged more bloopers per half hour than any other show in history. Costello loses his place on the page, Abbott muffs a line of dialogue, wrong entrances, late exits, etc. etc. etc. And still the timing was amazing, and you could hear the audience lapping it up. Looking back, their radio show had the same spirit that Dean Martin's variety show later had. "We're here for the party; proper rules of showmanship be damned!!")

      So, I totally agree with you. Maybe it's because it was only on two seasons and it was at the very start of TV's history...but man, does it hold up.

      A&C tend to get short shrift anyway. Some see them as a LAUREL & HARDY rip-off, while others seem to see them as the comedy team between LAUREL & HARDY and MARTIN & LEWIS. But their success in the forties was incredible, and they made movies, did radio and stage, live TV, taped TV...etc. More than MARTIN & LEWIS or LAUREL & HARDY either did and for a longer period of time than either team did.

      This is not to knock those two teams. I love L&H and M&L, but let's not bury this legit comedy team in favor of reorganizing history.

      "Further, now that I’m working my way through the films via Universal’s chronological “Best of Abbott and Costello” sets (which omit only a few stragglers that were independently produced, or when A&C were out “on-loan”) you can see how deftly THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW works routines from the films – and, before that, presumably from radio and/or their stage act – into each episode of the TV series."

      Yes. It has been said they didn't like to perform new material (although their radio show was on every week from 42-47, and it consistently featured new material). I think their old material was so beloved, they felt obligated to rework it for new mediums and situations. I once read (not sure if this was true) that they were contractually obligated to perform "Who's on First?" once a month on their radio show.

      "For instance, check out the A&CS episode “The Army Story”, which clearly adapts comedy-routine material from the classic film “Buck Privates”. Between the two, you end up with “Buck-And-A-Half-Privates”!

      "…Still wanna “interview” me after that?"

      LOL!!! But, of course. In all these years I've known you, I had no idea you were an A&C fan!!

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