Stars of Slapstick #6: Abbott and Costello

Today is Bud Abbott’s birthday (1895-1974).  I apologize for spelling his name wrong in No Applause.

I am one of the few people who prefer Abbott over Costello, and by a pretty wide margin. If you want to know why, you’ll need to check out my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013. 

But I will say here that my appreciation for the artistry of both members of the team has recently been enhanced as I research burlesque comedy for my upcoming show Burlesque-A-Pades. Abbott and Costello are the premiere exemplars of burlesque comedy tradition in popular culture. As such they transplanted it from the burlesque stage (largely gone anyway by the time they hit it big in 1940) into movie theatres and onto the broadcast waves of radio and television.

A good example is this routine from their first film One Night in the Tropics, adapted from a standard burlesque sketch in common use for decades. It starts about 30 seconds in:

To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.

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