Who's on First?
The best of Abbott & Costello. Volume 2
Universal City, Calif. : Universal, [2004]
  1. DVD.
  2. In English with optional French and Spanish subtitles; closed captioned in English.
  3. Title from disc label.
  4. Featuring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello.
  5. Videodisc release of eight comedy films, produced in 1943.
  6. Eight of comic duo Abbott and Costello's classic films as produced for Universal Pictures.
  7. Hit the ice -- In society -- Here come the Co-Eds -- The Naughty Nineties -- Little Giant -- The Time of Their Lives -- Buck Privates Come Home -- The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap.
The best of Abbott & Costello. Volume 3
Universal Studios.
Universal City, Calif. : Universal, 2004.
  1. DVD, full frame.
  2. In English with optional French or Spanish subtitles ; captioned.
  3. Bud Abbott, Lou Costello.
  4. Title from disc label.
  5. Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein (83 min.) -- Mexican hayride (78 min.) -- Abbott and Costello meet the killer, Boris Karloff (80 min.) -- Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (80 min.) -- Abbott and Costello meet the invisible man (83 min.) -- Comin' round the mountain (77 min.) -- Lost in Alaska (77 min.) -- Abbott and Costello go to Mars (77 min.).
  6. Bonus materials: production notes, theatrical trailer.
The best of Abbott and Costello. Volume 1
Universal City, CA : Universal, 2003.
  1. DVD, full screen.
  2. In English with optional French or Spanish subtitles; captioned.
  3. Bud Abbott, Lou Costello.
  4. Title from disc label.
  5. Videodisc release of eight comedy films release between 1940 and 1942.
  6. Disc 1, side 1. One night in the tropics (83 min. 1940). Buck privates (84 min., 1941) -- side 2. In the navy (85 min., 1941). Hold that ghost (76 min., 1941) -- Disc 2, side 1. Keep 'em flying (86 min., 1941). Ride 'em cowboy (86 min., 1942) -- side 2. Pardon my sarong (84 min., 1942). Who done it? (77 min., 1942).
  7. Includes production notes, theatrical trailers.
Bud Abbott & Lou Costello meet Frankenstein
Universal International.
Universal City, CA : Universal, 2000, c1948.
  1. DVD, Dolby digital 2.0 mono. Full frame format (1.33:1 aspect ratio).
  2. In English with optional French subtitles. Closed captioned in English.
  3. Not rated.
  4. Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Lenore Aubert, Jane Randolph, Frank Ferguson, Charles Bradstreet.
  5. Director, Charles T. Barton ; producer, Robert Arthur ; music by Frank Skinner ; screenplay by Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, John Grant ; photography, Charles Van Enger.
  6. Videodisc release of the 1948 motion picture.
  7. A comic horror film in which Abbott and Costello encounter Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, and a mad scientist.
  8. Special features include Abbott & Costello meet the monsters, the making of Abbott & Costello meet Frankenstein; feature commentary with film historian Gregory W. Mank; production photographs; theatrical trailer; production notes; cast and filmmakers.

Abbott and Costello's 'Who's on First' is one of the most popular comedy routines ever performed. 

Abbott and Costello worked with noteworthy St. Louisans: 

Actress Mary Wickes appeared with them in the films Who Done It? and Dance with Me, Henry;

Comedian Joe Besser (later one of the Three Stooges) appeared in Africa Screams and TV's Abbott and Costello Show;

Vincent Price was the voice of the Invisible Man in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Time magazine chose it as the best comedy sketch of the 20th century, it made the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest movie quotes, and the phrase 'Who's on First' even appears in everyday speech to describe a confused situation.

The origins of the routine are unknown.  It was part of the standard repertoire of burlesque comedians, but it was the team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello who perfected it and brought it to a mass audience. 

This almost didn't happen:  in 1938, Abbott and Costello made a series of guest appearances on the popular radio show The Kate Smith Hour, but Kate Smith's manager didn't think 'Who's on First was funny, and wouldn't let them perform it.  Eventually, Abbott and Costello claimed to have run out of material, and with no alternative, the manager allowed them to do the routine.  It was a smash, and became the team's trademark, performed hundreds of times on stage, film, television, and radio.

Memorable Routine

Abbott: I say, Who’s on first, What’s on second, and I Don’t Know’s on third.

Costello: Are you the manager?

(enjoy the entire routine)

'Who's on First' has a St. Louis connection.  Since the routine involves baseball players with strange names, Abbott and Costello often began by mentioning former Cardinals Dizzy and Daffy Dean.  And in the most famous version, in the film The Naughty Nineties, the fictitious team is specifically from St. Louis.  Bud Abbott even wears a 'St. Louis Wolves' uniform.

'Who's on First' has never lost its popularity.  In a final honor, it plays continually in the National Baseball Hall of Fame museum. 

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff