Who’s on First? How Abbott and Costello Influenced Generations of Comedy

Abbot and Costello Via WikiMedia Commons

Abbott and Costello were the most popular comedy pair in the 1940s and ’50s. Their perfect timing and unmistakable humor made them the highest-paid entertainers during World War 2. With the world at war, people needed a reason to smile and no one accomplished that feet quite like these two comedy legends.

Abbott and Costello’s Greatest Hits

Starting out on the radio in the 1940s, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello captivated listeners with their flawless vaudeville style. It wasn’t long before their increased popularity on radio led to the opportunity to take Hollywood by storm as well. Arguably, their most famous bit was “Who’s on first?” This brilliantly performed piece is one of the best-known comedy segments of all time. It was so popular, in fact, that it has been recreated in everything from Bugs Bunny cartoons to The Simpsons. Additionally, the pair’s extensive film career took their characters on adventures that include a trip to Mars and a chance meeting with Frankenstein and Dracula. For nearly 20 years, they churned out oddball films that kept the audience coming back and always kept them laughing.

How Abbott and Costello Influenced Entertainment for Decades

When we look at comedy in film and television over the last 70 years, there is no mistaking the impact of this comedy duo. So many movies and tv series would likely not exist today had it not been for their influence. So many of our modern sitcom pairs and film duos follow the formula of Bud and Lou. Whether it’s the Chris Farley and David Spade movies of the 1990s, Steve Martin and John Candy in “Planes, Trains, and automobiles,” or the current crop of funny guys gracing the small and big screen, they all owe a little something to Abbot and Costello.

Did you enjoy this trip down memory lane? We regularly look back at movies, music, and culture from the ’40s and ’50s. For more like this, follow The Greatest Generation on Twitter and like us on Facebook.