Even though he was a middle-aged man of 46 when the show began, Lou Costello did most of his own stunts on the show. An athlete in his youth, he was actually a stuntman in Hollywood for a time back in the silent era before he teamed up with partner Bud Abbott, and was renowned for taking spectacular pratfalls in his films and on stage. Stuntmen were used for the more potentially dangerous stunts - being knocked through walls, getting hit by cars, etc. - but most of the falls you see Costello take were actually done by him. See more »
[after answering a question correctly on a TV quiz program then looking directly at the camera]
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All of the greatest Burlesque routines done for the ages
The raison d'etre of these 52 shows is the desire of Lou Costello to leave behind definitive versions of all of their burlesque and vaudeville routines. Most of these were not original, some having circulated since Plautus. Floogle Street (also known, incorrectly, as the Susquehanna Hat Company), Crazy House,
Niagara Falls (Slowly I Turn) were all such staples that every new burlesque comic was expected to know them in case they were needed to fill in at a moments notice. They were part of the stock repertoire. What Abbott and Costello did was present the absolute perfect version of each bit. It was this absolute perfection which caused them to rise to the very top of burlesque, and to, uniquely, make the transition to the mass medium of films.
They did these bits in their films but they were usually compromised by having plots and sub plots and romance and songs and whatever the studio executives or their agents (actually the same person) thought people who went to the movies wanted. Comparing their late films with the TV series is night and day. They look old and tired and out of shape in the films but crisp and perfectly timed on TV. The big difference with the TV series is that Lou Costello was in complete charge and did things his way. Absolutely the ne plus ultra of the burlesque comic genre, pardon my French.
One day the National Film Registry will have to list the entire series as a national treasure. Lou Costello was right and their act was for the ages and this black and white series preserves it perfectly. Meanwhile watch that bit again where Mr. Bacciagalupe (I still call my greengrocer Mr. Bacciagalupe) convinces Lou that two bananas are really three bananas. Also the routine where Abbott convinces Costello not to let Mike the Cop push them around which keeps getting Lou hit on the head which is so much like modern international politics that it's frightening.
P.S. Doing my Joe Besser ('Stinky') impression got me out of the draft.
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