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YouTube Gold: Who’s On First

The finest comedy routine in American history

Comedian Bud Abbott Whispering to Lou Costello
Comedian Bud Abbott Whispering to Lou Costello

Since baseball season is, at least theoretically, getting close, or maybe not, depending on how stupidly the union and management handle negotiations, we thought it might be a good time to make America’s greatest comedy routine of all time a Tuesday YouTube Gold.

The bit, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is Who’s On First by Abbott & Costello, the comedy team from the ‘40s and ‘50s.

They were immensely popular during the Golden Age of Radio. If you want a sense of perspective, they peaked when Coach K was in diapers and short pants. They were huge during the War years and their popularity went on into the 1950s.

Bud Abbott was the straight man - Groucho Marx called him the greatest straight man of all time - and Lou Costello was his foil.

They had an up and down personal relationship, punctuated by great success, and, in Costello’s case, great tragedy.

It’s amazing that a routine developed nearly 80 years ago still makes people laugh.

Incidentally, this audience might enjoy knowing that Costello was an excellent high school athlete and, like Curly of the Three Stooges, was very good at basketball. Abbott & Costello did a movie called “Here Come The Co-Eds” in which Costello did all of his own trick shots which, you have to say, is pretty damn cool.