This hilarious collection of skits from Abbott and Costello includes the duo’s classic “Who’s On First'”, “The Piano Bit,” “Army Drill,” and “Niagara Falls” (featuring Errol Flynn), among many others.
Abbott and Costello, American comedic duo who performed onstage, in films, and on radio and television. Bud Abbott (original name William Alexander Abbott; b. October 2, 1895, Asbury Park, New Jersey, U.S.—d. April 24, 1974, Woodland Hills, California) and Lou Costello (original name Louis Francis Cristillo; b. March 6, 1906, Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.—d. March 3, 1959, East Los Angeles, California) specialized in rapid-fire patter and knockabout slapstick, and they are regarded as the archetypal team of burlesque comedy.
Abbott was born into a circus family, and he managed burlesque houses before he met Costello. He spent much time backstage studying the top American comics of the day, including W.C. Fields, Bert Lahr, and the comedy team of Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough. In 1923 Abbott produced his own show, Broadway Flashes, in which he played a leading role in order to save the cost of an actor’s salary. He spent the next decade perfecting his talents as a straight man and working with a number of partners that included his wife, Betty.
As a young man, Costello greatly admired Charlie Chaplin. In 1927 he moved to Hollywood, where he worked as a stuntman; after an injury he quit stunt work to perform in New York burlesque. Although he had never worked onstage before, he quickly became one of the top burlesque comics and learned the hundreds of standard comedy routines of the circuit. Those stock routines allowed comics to work interchangeably with a variety of partners (often on a moment’s notice); in such informal pairings, Abbott and Costello performed together sporadically throughout the early 1930s, before their official teaming in early 1936.