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The A & C show is one of the funniest comedy shows in the history of television. All of the skits that made this comedy team American comedy icons are in this series. And what adds to the shenanigans is the cast of those inimical characters that we still talk about - Mike the Cop, Mr. Fields the landlord, Hillary Brooks (Lou adored her. And how could anyone not react with a smile when she would condescendingly refer to Costello as "Louis?"), Mr. Bacigalupe and Lou's "friend" Stinky. Every episode is funny; every character is funny, and this show is proof that humor does not have to be dirty to be funny. Bud Abbott's sneer, Lou's whining, Mike's indignation, all that and more is what is to be found in this treasure chest of comedy, brought to you by one of the greatest comedy teams of all times - Abbott and Costello.
Sitcoms had been around for a few years when this show premiered, but
none of them were anywhere near as funny (Jerry Seinfeld is on record
as saying this show was the inspiration for his creating "Seinfeld") as
this one. The premise of the show lent itself to Bud & Lou's reprising
many of their most famous routines, and it was good to see them back in
action. The two of them--especially Costello--seemed to have regained
the spark they once had before a string of movie failures and the
team's personal and physical problems (Lou's infant son had fallen into
their backyard pool and drowned several years previously, a tragedy Lou
never got over; Bud--unknown to many at the time--had epilepsy and his
seizures were becoming more serious) combined to send their career into
a tailspin, and this show was their chance to revive it. Even though
Costello was no longer a young man (he was in his mid-50s when the
series debuted) he could still take the pratfalls he was famous for,
and the team's exquisite sense of timing seemed to have resurfaced (in
one episode they did their famous "Lemon" gag that was simply amazing
to watch). A first-rate supporting cast and a somewhat more adult
atmosphere (Costello had a major--and completely understandable--case
of the hots for beautiful Hillary Brooke, and he and Joe Besser's
wonderful Stinky had some quite nasty fights) elevated this show beyond
just kid's fare.
Although it lasted only two seasons, this is a very fondly remembered show. It holds up well and is just as funny today as it was back when it was first shown.
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.
For the love of . . . Cecil! This stream of Burlesque bits, connected
by the flimsiest - and surreal-est - of segues is very funny.
Lou does tend to ad-lib, but watch also Abbott. He's hysterical! He was really the best "straight" man. He kept Lou on track. But, he also echoed Lou's actions in the background, as a sort of punctuation.
And, of course, Mr. Fields, with all his relatives.
Hard to pick a favorite bit. "Loafin'"; "Gold Ore"; "Floogle Street"; "Vacation".
Don't forget "Hold That Cuckoo!", the quiz show the boys went on. Lou wins 1,000 pieces of bubblegum. A few days after the show, Abbott says "Are you still chewing that gum?", slaps Lou, the gum falls on the sidewalk in front of Mr. Fields' Rooming House, where a "Mr. Rednose" (Bobby Barber), slips and falls on the gum, gets up claiming he broke his leg,and ends up suing Mr. Fields. They all go to court, where Lou drives the judge crazy. And, "I'm positive!" about that!
The first series(with the montage of earlier films in opening credits) was
excellent. Very funny and great atmosphere. They hardly made any sense
the scenes with Stinky seemed to be used mostly to pad out the episodes.
The second series(Where Costello yells"Heeeeeeey Aaabbooooott!!) concentrated more on plot and the laughter was all from children and was less funny. Only a handful of episodes stood out. Half the cast left after the 1st series and they were sorely missed and Sid Field's character was toned down for some reason.
This nostalgic fun should please the viewer. Always good for laugh. Good fun and good atmosphere.
Having not seen the A&C show for 40 years I recently picked up the 'Best of'
DVD and was suitably amazed at just how good the boys were early on. LOU'S
BIRTHDAY is a masterpiece of comic timing, brilliantly directed and edited.
Here is the genesis of 'Seinfeld' and 'Who loves Raymond'. GETTING A JOB
consists of an extended version of the Susquehanna hat routine and is as
insane as any Marx Bros scene. The pace and action is non-stop.
The ensemble gathered together for the original series worked like a finely tuned race car; fast and furious! Mike the cop and Fields in his many guises are worth a laugh a minute. In UNCLE BOZZO I found myself laughing non-stop as the three of them (the boys with Lou's newly arrived uncle) did the old double bed routine. An oldie, but never done better than here.
Finally in STOLEN SKATES we have Bingo the Chimp. Normally I hate chimps in movies and even did as a kid (well, except in 'Bomba' movies!) but here the director makes full use of the ape's talents. The entire street is brought into the act as every cast member magically acquires roller skates. Then it's on for young and old.
Given the choice of 10 DVDs to take to a desert island, I'd have no trouble in including this one. Brilliant!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've been a fan of A&C since I was a little kid and they always had me in stitches. Their films were a staple growing up and more importantly shaping my own sense (and appreciation) of humor. The great mix of sharp wit, breakneck slapstick, sight gags, verbal dexterity and the penultimate pairing of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, arguably the greatest comic duo ever, showcases their unique and groundbreaking style of comedy. The fast-talking, smooth, dapper Bud and the constant foil, child-like sucker partner, Lou, always the odd men out, were teamed up from the early days of vaudeville/burlesque and for nearly 20 years kept America (and later the world) in hysterics with their teaming up thru radio, stage, film and finally TV, the new medium, which only lasted 2 seasons (thankfully now available on DVD; after watching them back to back in one successful week it's so easy to recall why I enjoyed them so much; they still have me laughing). The simple 'premise' of A&C as consistently out-of-work entertainers trying to ditch their landlord Sid Fields (who wrote many of the episodes and appeared w/the boys in Mexican HAYRIDE) in the ongoing quest of rent in the cheap apartment building where (at least in the first season) their neighbors consisted of Lou's platonic gal pal, Hillary Brooke, a statuesque blonde; Joe Besser's overgrown Little Lord Fauntleroy manque, Stinky, whose warning of "I'll Harm You!" to Lou in their chronic case of slap-fighting; Gordon Jones as beat cop Mike who never heard of Miranda apparently, causing much violence with Costello, a constant source of annoyance; Joe Kirk - Costello's real-life brother-in-law, as local produce hawker/baker/all- around jack-of-all-trades, Mr. Bacciagalupe; and the diminutive real-life bud of A&C, Bobby Barber, as an all-purpose stooge. The team's regular bits involved many mistaken identities, misunderstood dialogue (plays on words, etc.) and their famous sketches including the immortal "Who's On First?" By all means check them out on video or the next time there's a marathon on cable, tape it; you'll be glad you did.
When this show was on I watched it every time I could! I thought that the characters were really funny and all had great personalities. The comedy in My opinion was really funny. It was really cool all of the great acts they did. In My opinion these actors are some of the funniest and talented ever seen. In fact, The things that goes on in this series' cartoons are in My opinion nuts which that is what makes them hilarious! There are so many to like and laugh at and the silly things they do! If you like the The Three Stooges and the Abbott and Costello feature films then I strongly recommend that you watch this show today!
The wonderful nonsense that made up the comedy of Bud Abbott and Lou
Costello is carefully preserved and is to be treasured in this two
season television series which I can remember from my earliest days. It
seemed like it was in syndication forever on WPIX TV in New York in the
fifties, sixties and seventies. Made those Honeymooner episodes look
A careful viewing of all their feature films will find all their famous routines in them at one point. But if you just want to see the boys do their stuff and not have to worry about the plot of some movie, than by all means try to acquire these shows on VHS or DVD.
The plots of these shows are absolutely meaningless. The common thread was the fact that they didn't pay the rent at their rooming-house and as their harassed landlord said on one show, they were going into their second year. Of course the fact that they didn't want to work and when they got jobs, they inevitably blew them up didn't help matters.
The landlord was Sidney Fields who went back in burlesque as long as Abbott and Costello did. Fields had one magnificent temper and when Abbott wasn't abusing his hapless partner, Fields was. He got almost as many laughs as the boys did, in fact they could have been a trio act.
Another tenant at the rooming-house was Gordon Jones, known as Mike the cop, though in one episode it did slip that his last name was Kelly. He also was driven to distraction by Costello's antics. There was the beautiful and ever patient Hillary Brooke who Costello was crushing out on big time. And there was Joe Kirk, in real life Lou's brother-in-law, who was the ever excitable Italian, Mr. Baciagalupe. Kirk was a poor man's Henry Armetta and the boys constantly made him lose his "temperature".
Somewhere on some cable station these shows are still playing, with comedy that is absolutely timeless and will be enjoyed a thousand years from now.
One thing I did wonder when I got older. Why didn't Fields just take Abbott and Costello to Landlord and Tenant Court. He had more than enough grounds.
I must rebuff the previous comments made in the Feb 04 and Feb 06
reviews. First off, the individual who thought this was poorly written
and predictable is entitled to his opinion, regardless of how unfounded
it may be. But to call this classic comedy duo boring is grossly
unfair. A comedic legend that inspired Jerry Seinfeld? What credentials
are you going by? That person writes--"How about a joke"...the joke is
on you!! This is sketch comedy at its finest!! I can't see how anyone
cannot find humor and at least one good laugh in Costello's birthday
skit between Lou and Mr. Fields. How Fields turns Costello's every word
against him is just grand farce!! Or when Lou walks the old lady across
the street. To see that old lady bonk Lou over the head, breaking her
cane not once but twice is priceless. Throw in Mike the Cop several
times in the same routine and you have a surefire recipe for laughter.
And how one can overlook the banter between Lou and Stinky is beyond
me, those two provide the show with many of its finest moments.
And for the reviewer who thought Joe Besser's "Stinky" character brought the series down, come on!!! Stinky's interactions with Costello are hilarious. To see the two of them beat upon each other, interjecting witty comments along the way-"I'll harm you" (from the Susquehanna Hat Company routine) is riotous.
It seems that no matter how wonderful a performer is, how universally recognized, a forum such as this is always bound to bring out the few dodos who have to go against the grain... Give these two comedy giants their complete due and give them a break!!!
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