September 24

Classic Comedy in Abbott and Costello’s “Jonah and the Whale” Act


Here’s something to convince you the necessity of asking your old folks about the good old days. This comedy act from the 1950s, old as it is, still carries more sense than most of today’s dirty jokes.

Video Courtesy: James T. Jordan
(Segment from The Abbott and Costello Show (1952–54))

Remember Bud Abbot & Lou Costello?

Classic Comedy in Abbott and Costello’s “Jonah and the Whale” Act 1

Smithsonian Institution branded them the “Legendary Performers” for their classic and versatile comical acts that still has not lost its punch line even to date. The duo’s fame speedily escalated from radio guesting (1938) to broadways (1939), then on to films and television (the 1940’s- 1950’s). It’s not surprising given that both men were trained entertainers. Abbot’s born in a circus family while Costello’s a long-time Charlie Chaplin fan.

Officially teaming up in 1936 after random collaborations in the earlier years, “Who’s on First” tickled the nation’s funny bone in its initial airing on The Kate Smith Hour. The routine then became their signature act and is available online for our perusal. In 1999, TIME Magazine named Who’s on First the “routine of the millennium.”

Significant Contributions & Legacy  

Abbot & Costello’s comic tandem spanned for 30 years long before parting ways. Allegedly, ‘overexposure’ led to the decline of their popularity. Nevertheless, their comical acts were highly valued and instrumental to uplift people’s spirits during WWII. Going further, the duo did cross-country shows to help raise funds for the War Bond Drive. In three days, they’re able to accumulate $89 million. For their selfless initiative, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia honored both men on the steps of New York’s City Hall.

They were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Abbott & Costello, Jonah and the Whale

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