A look back at the comedy of Abbott and Costello


Abbott-and-CostelloRemember when comedy was funny, and didn’t have to use swear words? Yes, it was a million years ago.

This is a picture of one of my favorite coffee mugs. It’s HUGE, so it’s like 2 cups of coffee in one, and it has caricatures of Abbott and Costello, which always makes me smile. Since I’m not a morning person, it’s a necessity!

Abbott and Costello were funny guys. Abbott played the “straight man” which means he set up the jokes, and was very serious. He acted mad or upset when Costello did something dumb.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition, which is spot on as far as I’m concerned:


The straight man is a stock character in a comedy performance, especially a double act, sketch comedy, or farce.

When his comedy partner behaves eccentrically, the straight man’s response ranges from aplomb to outrage, or from patience to frustration. He makes his partner look all the more ridiculous by being completely serious. He will often also be found in sitcoms.

In Vaudeville, the straight man’s name usually appeared first and he usually received 60% of the take. This helped take the sting out of not being the laugh-getter and helped ensure the straight man’s loyalty to the team.


It goes on to say:

 Often one of the members of the duo—the straight man, feed, dead wood, or stooge—is portrayed as reasonable and serious, while the other one—the funny man, banana man or comic—is portrayed as funny, less educated or less intelligent, silly, or unorthodox. If the audience identifies primarily with one character, the other will often be referred to as a comic foil. The term “feed” comes from the way a straight man is wont to set up jokes and “feed” them to his partner.

So in the case of Abbott and Costello, Abbott is the straight man, Costello is the funny man. But they were a TEAM.

Here’s one of my favorite skits:


And here’s the one that made them famous:

I need to refill my coffee cup.

I’m back. Here’s one more:

Have a good day everyone!



4 thoughts on “A look back at the comedy of Abbott and Costello

  1. Thanks for sharing these skits. I agree with you about the way comedy has changed. Do you watch Last Comic Standing on TV now? My favorite of the Abbott and Costello skits is “who’s on First?”.


    1. Hi Terri, I don’t watch Last Comic Standing. Is it funny?
      “Who’s on first” is classic. I remember the first time I showed it to my son, he was about 10 and he thought it was hilarious. Another favorite of mine is Lucy in the candy factory.


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