On this date, March 3rd, fifty years ago, comedian Lou Costello, best known as the plump bumbling half of the comedy team of Abbott and Costello, died of a heart attack. Reportedly his last words were "That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted," as he was finishing a strawberry cream soda.
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello made over 40 films together in a 20 year career. Their signature comedy sketch Who's on First? was voted by Time in 1999 as the single greatest comedy routine of the 20th century. Who's on First? first appeared on radio in March 1938, after Abbott and Costello joined the cast of the The Kate Smith Hour. Two years later, with minor alterations, Abbott and Costello reprised the sketch in their Hollywood film debut, One Night in the Tropics starring Allan Jones, Nancy Allen and Bob Cummings.
It was so successful, so famous that the bit appeared in several of their films. Audiences never seemed to tire of its ridiculous rapid-fire word play. In 1944 Abbott and Costello had the comedy sketch copyrighted.
The piece starts with Bud Abbott talking about the crazy nicknames of baseball ballplayers and Costello wants to know more about the local team and needless to say, who is playing each position.
Oh yeah, who's on first ... naturally.
The concept is as simple as that.
Unfortunately each of the ballplayers nicknames can also be interpreted as a non-responsive answer to Costello's endless questioning. Nearly 70 years later this bit is still absolutely brilliant. And absolutely absurd. Here's two versions.