I have always loved Abbott and Costello (pictured right, and below), and I especially enjoy their old burlesque routines. The films and television shows of Abbott and Costello have preserved those precious comedy routines. Unless we had those films and shows most of those routines would have been lost forever. That is why Jerry Seinfeld has rightly said that Abbott and Costello ‘are the only ones who preserved an entire era of American entertainment’ – namely, burlesque. In the words of Seinfeld, A&C were 'giants of their time, who truly immortalized burlesque forever,' and, as Abbott and Costello Quarterly has written, the showbiz team of A&C was 'the greatest comedy team to ever come out of burlesque.'
The boys' two Brisbane Stadium shows each had an audience of 3,000-plus, which was very good for those days. Their shows at the Sydney Stadium were less successful. The Newcastle show---a tryout, so to speak, for the capital city shows---went well and has been labelled a hit. Melbourne was okay, all things considered. The bottom line---the boys' Australian tour was not a great financial success for promoter Lee Gordon, who also lost money that year bringing out to Australia other American entertainers including Betty Hutton and Bob Hope. One of the main reasons for A&C not drawing really big crowds related to timing---and demographics. It would not be until after television came to Australia---that happened in September the following year---that a whole new generation of fans (mainly kids) would discover A&C. By 1955 the boys' more mature (and largely young adult) fan base was more interested in setting up home in suburbia and starting a family. Still, A&C did manage to attract a large amount of media attention when they were in Australia, and a number of major newspapers ran feature stories on the boys and their careers.
As I see it, A&C were comedic Zen masters. Take this famous routine, 'You're 40, She's 10', which has all the paradoxical elements of the best Zen kōan:
Now, if you’re still with me, here are A&C performing their most famous routine, 'Who's on First?’ – a routine which in 1999 was declared by Time magazine to be not only the '20th Century's Best Comedy Routine' but also the 'Routine of the Millennium', and which has been translated into nearly 30 languages, some of them even done and recorded by A&C themselves:
ME AND MY SHADOW ... ALL ALONE AND FEELIN' BLUE
MINDFULNESS, BURLESQUE COMEDY AND MONOMANIA
YOU ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE