Abbott and Costello - in Popular Culture

In Popular Culture

The comedy group The Credibility Gap performed a rock and roll update of "Who's on First?" using the names of rock groups The Who, The Guess Who, and Yes, recorded and released on their first album, "The Bronze Age of Radio". In the 1988 movie Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman's autistic character Raymond Babbitt recites an affectless "Who's on First?" as a defense mechanism. NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006), a drama about life backstage at a television comedy series, used "Who's on First?" as a plot device.

Dinosaucers featured an episode called "Allo & Cos-Stego Meet the Abominable Snowman," which featured many Abbott and Costello references, including variations on "Who's on First?" and the Niagara Falls sketches.

In The West Wing first season episode "He Shall, from Time to Time...", White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry refers to Sam Seaborn and Josh Lyman as Abbott and Costello.

Jerry Seinfeld is an avid fan and "The Old Man" (Season 4, Episode 18, aired 18 February 1993) featured a cantankerous old man named "Sid Fields," played by veteran actor Bill Erwin, as a tribute to Sidney Fields, the landlord from the Abbott & Costello TV show. The influence of Abbott & Costello on Seinfeld was discussed in a 1994 NBC program "Abbott and Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld." In Episode 30, Kramer hears the famous Abbott & Costello line "His father was a mudder. His mother was a mudder."

In 2003 Montclair State University dedicated a student residential complex aptly named The Abbott and Costello Center on Clove Road in the Little Falls portion of the university's campus.

On the January 13, 2001 episode of Saturday Night Live host Charlie Sheen and SNL cast-member Rachel Dratch performed a modified version of "Who's On First?" in a vaudeville reminiscent sketch wherein the names "Who", "What" and "I Don't Know" were used in reference to prostitutes that perform only one specific service but no others, culminating in a joke where Sheen says "You know what, I don't give a damn," to which Dratch replies, "Oh, you mean my crack dealer."

In 2001, Australia's deputy Prime Minister Peter Costello was widely known to be expecting to take over from John Howard as PM. It was also widely rumoured that the Workplace Relations' Minister, Tony Abbott was making a play to take over Costello's position as deputy. The rumours, denials and public comments became almost comical leading the opposition leader Kim Beazley to comment in an ABC interview, "We've now apparently got on our hands the Abbott and Costello Show. The question is, who's on first?" The public responded by frequently referring to Abbott and Costello as "Abbott and Costello".

In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, a 1993 spoof comedy directed by Mel Brooks, Dick Van Patten played the part of the Abbot. At one point, a man who looked and sounded like Lou Costello (played by Chuck McCann) yelled "Hey, Abbott!", in exactly the same way Lou did in the Abbott and Costello movies, repeating a joke from Brooks' Robin Hood sitcom When Things Were Rotten in which Van Patten shouted the line.

In the 1999 episode of The Simpsons, "Marge Simpson in: 'Screaming Yellow Honkers'", Superintendent Chalmers and Principal Skinner try their hand at being Abbott and Costello, but Skinner botches the routine six seconds into the act with delivery of the line, "Not the pronoun but a player with the unlikely name of Who, is on first."

They were inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2009.

In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Fear, Itself, Buffy says, "If I were Abbott and Costello, this would be fairly traumatic," upon entering a frat house's Halloween party.

A TV movie called Bud and Lou, based on a book by Hollywood correspondent Bob Thomas, was broadcast in 1978. Starring Harvey Korman as Bud Abbott and Buddy Hackett as Lou Costello, the film told the duo's life story, focusing on Costello and portraying him as volatile and petty. Regarding this movie, Maxene Andrews explained, "He was certainly nothing like the character he was portrayed to be in the TV movie of the week. We'd go over to home on many weekends...Oh, and the good food they would put out for us!" Patty Andrews once said, "Lou had a dominating type of personality. And Bud was the second banana, as far as Lou was concerned. They were not like their onscreen personas at all."

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