Abbott and Costello’s comedy routine, “Who’s on first” is a classic that remains funny today. It’s a wonderful slow burn where Lou Costello gradually gets angrier and angrier at Bud Abbott’s answers about a fictional baseball team because they don’t make sense to him. Explaining a joke always ruins it, so instead of trying to do it myself, let’s just enjoy the comedy genius of this Wikipedia explanation:
The premise of the sketch is that Abbott is identifying the players on a baseball team for Costello, but their names and nicknames can be interpreted as non-responsive answers to Costello’s questions. For example, the first baseman is named “Who”; thus, the utterance “Who’s on first” is ambiguous between the question (“Which person is the first baseman?”) and the answer (“The name of the first baseman is ‘Who'”).
Hysterical, right? I’m sure you’re LOLing already, if not ROTFLing. Seriously though, I think it’s one of the best routines out there. I enjoy it so much that I couldn’t help but label the positions with who played them (I know… first base…) in the skit throughout my post explaining what (second) each infield position does. Abbott and Costello are well worth enjoying with the sports fan in your life. Here are some great ways to enjoy their comedy and proudly represent yourself to the world as someone well versed in the history of sports and comedy.
- You can listen to the skit for only 99 cents (or free from a transactional perspective if you have Amazon Prime) here.
- Buy their entire collection of Universal Pictures films for $86.54 here. This includes Naughty Nineties and One Night in the Tropics, both of which have versions of Abbott and Costello performing Who’s on First.
- There’s a variety of wonderful shirt options, as you might expect. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The baseball jersey that has the name “Who” on the back, with the number “one.” Quick aside: thanks to Wikipedia, I found out that there have been two actual baseball players with Abbott and Costellian names: there was Allie Watt in 1920 and Chin-Lung Hu in 2007, of whom legendary announcer Vin Scully said, “Shades of Abbott and Costello, I can finally say, Hu, is on first base.”
- There’s a classic t-shirt with a picture of Abbott & Costello performing the skit with the full text on the back.
- For the visual learners out there, there’s a nice indie looking design with a baseball diamond drawn and filled in with the players’ names. This comes in all different formats: t-shirt, hoodie, men’s, women’s, baby’s, and more.
- Finally, if you’re looking for the ultimate combination of nerdy comedy references, buy this shirt with a design that shows the classic time and space traveling phone booth from the show Doctor Who in the position of first base on a baseball diamond. Very clever!!
- If you’re looking for other ways to physically represent the hilarity of the skit in your house, there’s a pair of Abbott & Costello animated dolls, a Throw Pillow, and a 27×40 poster.
- Last but not least, and possibly going fast, is a copy of the 1978 “Who’s on First” Memory Game! There seem to be cards with names of players on them which you place on a baseball diamond board to challenge the other person’s memory and patience.
If you are a sports fan, a history fan, or a comedy fan or are looking for a present for someone who fits that bill, these are all great options.