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The Vacuum Cleaner Salesman

The Vacuum Cleaner Salesman  – The Abbott and Costello Show season 1, originally aired January 16, 1953

The Vacuum Cleaner Salesman – The Abbott and Costello Show, season 1 — Bud Abbott “helps” Lou Costello find a job – what can go wrong?

After the opening monologue, Lou Costello shyly flirts with a pretty young lady (Robin Raymond) sitting on a bench. He first uses a simple magic trick, then a hand puppet. For his efforts, he only gets a mild slap on the cheek. He then tries with a yo-yo, then a flower. However, while his head is turned, the lady leaves and Mike the Cop (Gordon Jones) takes her place. It’s a silent routine, very funny, that ends with poor Mike getting his head hit against a lamp post.

Lou Costello flirting with a pretty young woman on a bench

At the boarding house

Back at the boarding house, Bud Abbott needs to find Lou a job. He asks Lou for 50 cents, a variation of their routine “Loan Me 50 Dollars“. Afterward, Mr. Fields “reminds” them to go to his brother’s employment agency around the corner.

Stinky (Joe Besser) keeps interrupting, to get a glass of water. “I”m not thirsty, my room is on fire!” This is the same joke done in Africa Screams. Interestingly, it’s based on something that Lou actually did as a boy! Sid Fields ends the routine clownishly, dashing out of his room dressed as a firefighter with a bucket of water … but he slips.

Sid Fields slips as he's trying to put out that fire in Stinky's room

At the employment agency

At Sid’s brother’s employment agency, after some slapstick with ink, Lou passes an aptitude test for an executive job with the government … By blowing on a pinwheel. After some more zany job ideas, Mr. Fields had the “perfect” job for Lou — vacuum cleaner salesman! With Bud’s help, Mr. Fields demonstrates how easy it will be. It ends with Lou accidentally vacuuming Mr. Fields’ toupee, and the boys rush out the door to sell vacuums.

Fields Unemployment Office - with Sid Fields, Lou Costello, Bud Abbott
Fields Unemployment Office – with Sid Fields, Lou Costello, Bud Abbott

Door to door salesman

Naturally, things don’t work well when actually peddling door-to-door. Bud “helps” by reading to Lou from the instruction manual. But the various instructions don’t help … Lou nearly gets his foot broken when he inserts it in a door, and later gets thrown out of a house by a jealous husband.

Gordon Jones (Mike the Cop) also plays the jealous husband in in The Vacuum Cleaner Salesman
Gordon Jones (Mike the Cop) also plays the jealous husband in in The Vacuum Cleaner Salesman

In the country, things don’t go any better. Not allowing the housewife to explain, Lou dumps dirt on the floor to vacuum it up. If he can’t vacuum it up, he promises to eat it! And … they have no electricity at the house!

Back at the boarding house – in reverse

Back at the boarding house, Hillary needs a vacuum cleaner … While nervously demonstrating, Lou hits the reverse button, spewing soot all over the house, ending the episode.

Poor Hillary Brooke! At the end of Vacuum Cleaner Salesman, Lou puts the vacuum in reverse, making of mess of the boarding house -- which soots him!
Poor Hillary Brooke! At the end of Vacuum Cleaner Salesman, Lou puts the vacuum in reverse, making of mess of the boarding house — which soots him!

Quotes

Bud Abbott: Lou, what I want to know is, why is it every day I see you looking in that department store window?
Lou Costello: I’ll tell you, Abbott. Inside that beautiful department store window is four gorgeous looking girls. And one of them winked at me!
Bud Abbott: Oh, those girls are nothing but dummies.
Lou Costello: Yeah? They ain’t so dumb. Two of them was wearing mink coats!

Bud Abbott: You’re ruining my calculations.
Lou Costello: You’re ruining my finances!

Mr. Fields: I see by this you’ve had 16 jobs in the last 6 weeks. Young man, why can’t you stay in one place?
Lou Costello: It’s just the gypsy in me.

Mr. Fields: Wanted: young man, neat appearance, sober, of good habits, to take a rocket trip to the moon. Must be willing to travel.

Mr. Fields: A very important job at the circus … they shoot you out of a cannon.
Lou Costello: What’s it pay?
Mr. Fields: 3 cents a mile, and traveling expenses.

Bud Abbott: I’ve got another job for you, pays $40 a week.
Lou Costello: You have another job for me?
Bud Abbott: Mmm-hmm,
Lou Costello: You have another job for me, pays forty dollars a week?
Bud Abbott: Forty dollars a week!
Lou Costello: Tell you what I’ll do, I’ll take twenty dollars a week.
Bud Abbott: Why twenty?
Lou Costello: Because if I don’t get the job, then I don’t lose so much.

Songs:

Trivia

  • This episode aired just ten days before a similar vacuum sales routine aired on the “Sales Resistance” episode of “I Love Lucy“.
  • There are obvious similarities to Lou selling vacuum cleaners in The Little Giant.
  • Dorothy Ford has a cameo as “Miss Yummy” in the Fields Employment Office. She co-starred with Abbott and Costello in Jack and the Beanstalk.
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