Classic video: Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First”

This is Abbott and Costello’s classic “Who’s on First” routine as performed in their 1945 film “The Naughty Nineties.” Besides the fact that it is hilarious, there are three things that I find interesting about this recording.

  1. It’s set in vaudeville, which is where the sketch was originally developed. You can see moments when they hesitate, where they would have held for laughter on stage.
  2. Once they get into the meat of the act, it’s done in one shot.
  3. There are moments when you can just barely hear crew members in the background stifling laughter.

5 Responses

  1. DavidK44

    A favorite to end the year! I have a longer version as an audio file, and my daughter’s loved it since she was very young. She can recite whole chunks of it. I’m surprised in the Naughty Nineties version that they didn’t have the audience for whom Bud was performing respond to the boys’ interplay, as it would have covered those awkward moments when they were waiting for an audience response. I hadn’t noticed the muffled snickers before; thanks for pointing them out!

  2. Kelvin Kao

    Ah, they just did great comedy and people couldn’t help but laugh.

    So much better than some of the unfunny stuff that has a laugh track, or more popular today, “whimsical music” that hints at you that this part is supposed to be funny.

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