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Introduction to Abbott and Costello, famous comedy team

Lou Costello and Bud Abbott getting soaked in The Buzzing Bee, aka. Busy Bee

Introduction to  Abbott and Costello, one of the greatest comedy teams of all time

Lou Costello and Bud Abbott in Public Enemies

Abbott and Costello  was a legendary comedy team, consisting of  Bud Abbott, the tall, thin straight man, and  Lou Costello, the short, pudgy comic. They were famous for their rapid-fire verbal exchanges, and Costello’s clownish view of the world. Like  Laurel and Hardy, they were a visual contrast — the tall, debonair Bud Abbott, and the short, goofy, unkempt Lou Costello.  In fact, when they were hired by Universal Studios, the studio was thinking of them as a more up-to-date version of Laurel and Hardy.

Abbott and Costello initially teamed up in 1931 when Bud Abbott was working at a Brooklyn theater, and Lou Costello asked him to fill in for his act’s straight man, who had taken ill. Throughout the 1930’s Abbott and Costello built and polished their act in vaudeville and burlesque theaters, using well-known vaudeville routines.

National prominence

Lou Costello and Bud Abbott on the radio

In 1938, they came to national prominence after performing on the  radio show The Kate Smith Hour, which led to Abbott and Costello signing a  movie contract with Universal Studios  the next year. In 1940, Abbott and Costello released their first film,  One Night in the Tropics, in which they were only supposed to be supporting roles, but they ended up stealing the show, notably with an abridged version of their classic €œWho’s on First?€ routine. They were quickly propelled to stardom,  starring in the movies, their own radio show, and television program.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, starring Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Glenn Strange

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello swiftly became box office sensations, and one of the most popular comedy teams of all times, creating dozens of movies (as well as radio shows, a ground-breaking television show, and their own comic book series) over the next twenty years.

In 1957, the team separated, due to internal stresses as well as virtual bankruptcy, due to tax issues with the IRS. Lou Costello died the next year, due to a weakened heart after his exposure to Rheumatic Fever during World War II.

In 1994, comedian Jerry Seinfeld hosted the television special,  Abbott and Costello meet Jerry Seinfeld  which aired on NBC to over 20 million homes.

Filmography of Abbott and Costello


Famous routines

  • A Dollar A Day  – After working for Bud Abbott for a full year for the sum of one dollar a day, Lou Costello wants to get paid – but he’ll be lucky to get “sum” of it!
  • Hertz U-Drive  -€“ Abbott and Costello need to rent a car from Hertz. U-Drive? No, I’ll drive!
  • Jonah and the Apples  -€“ routine with Lou Costello trying to tell a joke, despite constant interruptions from Bud Abbott
  • Loan me 50 dollars – a classic routine with Bud Abbott fleecing Lou Costello, by borrowing 50 dollars from Lou — who only has 40
  • Susquehanna Hat Company  -€“ also known as Bagel Street or Fluegel Street – where Lou has to deliver some hats. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Slowly I Turned  -€“ the vaudeville routine made famous by the Three Stooges, as performed by Abbott and Costello
  • Turkey Sandwich and a Cup of Coffee  -€“ classic routine with Bud Abbott trying to put on a good front, even though he and Lou Costello only have 25 cents
  • Two Tens for a Five  -€“ classic routine with Bud Abbott swindling Lou Costello
  • The Vitamin Skit  -€“ from Abbott and Costello’s radio series
  • Who’s on First?  -€“ their most famous routine

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