Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who's on First?

Last night at dinner George the Younger and I had one of those conversations where two people are talking - seemingly about the same subject - and yet in the end both are confused about what the other is talking about. George the Younger and I were "discussing" what he was going to be doing for the "special project" part of his upcoming Proteus Project. By the middle of the conversation, George the Elder was sitting across the table sniggering loudly and shaking his head. He was the only observer that saw that both George the Younger and I were not having an actual "conversation" in the true sense of the word. Henry was there, but he was languishing in self-pity after being made to eat a salad consisting of three small torn lettuce leaves and seven bean sprouts. Said differently, he wasn't really listening, he was immersed in staring at the salad as if it were going to take him years to choke it down. Poor pitiful him.

George the Younger and my sideways dialogue led to a discussion about the old Abbot and Costello "Who's on First" comedy routine from 1938. (As a bit of trivia, I have come to find out that while it is most commonly remembered as a skit from a movie in 1945, the routine was developed much earlier in 1938. They paid a comedy writer about $15 for it. Those were the days.) Turns out, not surprisingly, that the boys had never seen nor heard about this little snippet of Americana.

So as dinner was wrapping up and both George the Elder and I were doing what we usually do - which is to continually ask (yell/cajole/command/threaten) the boys to "SIT DOWN AND FINISH YOUR DINNER FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!" - we grabbed the laptop to introduce the boys to Abbot and Costello. As the photo illustrates, the comedic patter continues to induce the same hilarity these 80 odd years later. They both thought it was hysterical! There are a couple of other photos showing George the Younger yucking it up so much that his open guffawing mouth looks like a 747 could land in it.

And so, for those of you wishing to take a little stroll down memory lane or introduce you own young whipper-snappers to the brilliant schtick of old vaudevillians, here is the YouTube link to "Who's on First" as it was presented in the 1945 film "The Naughty Nineties" It's a classic. Yuck it up. Go ahead....


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