The Abbott and Costello Show

abbott lg.jpgAfter working as Allen's summer replacement, Abbott and Costello joined Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on The Chase and Sanborn Hour in 1941, while two of their films (Buck Privates and Hold That Ghost) were adapted for Lux Radio Theater. They launched their own weekly show October 8, 1942, sponsored by Camel cigarettes.

The Abbott and Costello Show mixed comedy with musical interludes (by vocalists such as Connie Haines, Ashley Eustis, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Skinnay Ennis, and the Les Baxter Singers). Regulars and semi-regulars on the show included Artie Auerbach ("Mr. Kitzel"), Elvia Allman, Iris Adrian, Mel Blanc, Wally Brown, Sharon Douglas, Verna Felton, Sidney Fields, Frank Nelson, Martha Wentworth, and Benay Venuta. Ken Niles was the show's longtime announcer, doubling as an exasperated foil to Abbott and Costello's mishaps (and often fuming in character as Costello routinely insulted his on-air wife). Niles was succeeded by Michael Roy, with announcing chores also handled over the years by Frank Bingman and Jim Doyle. The show went through several orchestras during its radio life, including those of Ennis, Charles Hoff, Matty Matlock, Matty Malneck, Jack Meakin, Will Osborne, Fred Rich, Leith Stevens, and Peter van Steeden. The show's writers included Howard Harris, Hal Fimberg, Parke Levy, Don Prindle, Eddie Cherkose (later known as Eddie Maxwell), Leonard B. Stern, Martin Ragaway, Paul Conlan, and Eddie Forman, as well as producer Martin Gosch. Sound effects were handled primarily by Floyd Caton.

In 1947 Abbott and Costello moved the show to ABC (the former NBC Blue Network). During their time on ABC, the duo also hosted a 30-minute children's radio program (The Abbott and Costello Children's Show), which aired Saturday mornings, featuring child vocalist Anna Mae Slaughter and child announcer Johnny McGovern.

"Who's on First?" is Abbott & Costello's signature routine. They always referred to it informally as "Baseball." Depending upon the version you are hearing, Abbott has organized a new baseball team, and the players have nicknames; or, he is pointing out the proliferation of nicknames in baseball—usually launching a variation on St. Louis Cardinals sibling pitchers Dizzy and Daffy Dean, before launching the routine with the infielders' nicknames of Who (first base), What (second base) and I Don't Know (third base). The key to the routine: Lou Costello's unwavering pronoun confusion and Bud Abbott's unwavering nonchalance.

Before very long the team could time the routine at will, adding or deleting portions as needed for films, radio, or television. If their director asked them to fill four minutes, for example, Bud and Lou would do four minutes' worth of the baseball bit. "Who's on First?" is believed to be available in as many as 20 versions, ranging from one minute to about 10 minutes. The longest version is seen in "The Actors' Home," an episode of their filmed TV series, in which "Who's on First?" constitutes the second half of the program. A live performance commemorating the opening day of the Lou Costello, Jr. Youth Foundation, in 1947 was recorded, and has appeared on numerous comedy albums. The team's final performance of "Who's on First?" was seen on Steve Allen's TV variety show, in 1957.

In the full-length version of Who's on First, all of the positions are mentioned except right field.

Episode Number Episode Title Aired Datesort descending
Who's On First
Lou and Bud are Sick
15 Bank Robbery with Marlene Dietrich Thursday, October 15, 1942
20 Knights in Shining Armor with Merle Oberon Thursday, November 19, 1942
Abbott and Costello - lucille ball's nylons Thursday, November 18, 1943
42 English Butler With Arthur Treacher Thursday, December 9, 1943
56 At the Circus with Alan Hale Thursday, March 16, 1944
75 Return to P.S. 15 Thursday, November 16, 1944
79 Christmas Shopping for Lou's Girlfriend Thursday, December 14, 1944
85 Lou Wants to Join the Merchant Marines Thursday, January 25, 1945
94 At The Ranch Thursday, April 5, 1945
106 Lou Promises His Girlfriend a Job Thursday, October 4, 1945
114 Opening a Gas Station Thursday, November 29, 1945
143 Incorrigible Thursday, October 3, 1946
166 Lou Goes to the Racetrack to Lose Money Thursday, March 13, 1947
170 Nuts and Bolts Thursday, April 10, 1947
171 Costello Is Invited to Join the Yankees Thursday, April 17, 1947
201 The Boys Buy a Ranch Wednesday, February 11, 1948
205 Costello Pays Income Tax Wednesday, March 10, 1948
250 Sam Shovel - General Custer's Last Hamburger Stand Thursday, January 27, 1949