It’s not often that comedy will age well. Whether it’s cultural refences no longer being relevant or turns of phrases or puns no longer making sense as language changes. I mean, most jokes in Shakespeare plays have to be explained in the foot notes. It’s not often that something is able to hold it’s comedic power for ever. But, I think I know something that can stand the test of time. Mainly because it already has.
The Abbott and Costello comedy routine “Who’s on First?” Abbott and Costello began performing their version of this routine in the 1930’s. And it’s still hilarious today.
For clarification, Abbott and Costello didn’t invent this type of comedy routine, it was a stable of turn-of-the-century burlesque sketches. They just made it about baseball and damn-near perfected the style of routine.
You don’t need me to explain what makes the routine funny, if you watched it, you either agree it is or don’t. But, I can try to talk about why it’s stayed so culturally relevant all these years later.
What makes this routine perfect, and allows it to thrive even today, almost 90 years later is that there is no requirement for entry.
There is no 1930’s slang you need to under stand, there is no cultural references to get, there is no fowl language that some may object to, and no one is the butt of the joke meaning anyone can watch it without feeling attacked.
All you need is a rudimentary understanding of baseball and to know the English language.
Actually, now that I think about it. This routine probably doesn’t work as well translated into different languages? Well, the French probably have comedy routines I have no hope of ever understanding so, I’d say it evens out.