Last week I had the pleasure of being one half of the performers of the classic Abbott and Costello sketch, “Who’s On First?”
I think it is the most perfect piece of comedy ever written—if your native language is English.
My colleague Adam Pisco and I performed it before an auditorium of our public international high school English Language Learner students, none who have English as their native language, and many who have come here with no English at all. They represent dozens of countries and languages.
So we were afraid we were taking a big risk, and we were afraid that the students might not be able to understand the sketch, and not be quite able to get the wordplay involved.
But I’m very happy to report, as you can see and hear by clicking on the video, that we were absolutely wrong.
Nice. You tried to be as “Costello” as possible, eh?
I can’t say I really tried to do an imitation of Lou, but if you just follow the script it kind of can’t help coming out that way.
Jack, I really like it! I find your acting to be great.
It’s big and full,..
not too fast,..
the Audience has a really good chance at understanding you.
Really well done.
,..did you really have a teacher named ‘Gonzolunga’?
Thanks. Cucamonga is actually an area in California. Back in the days of vaudeville, burlesque, and radio, if a comedian wanted a laugh, all he had to do was say Cucamonga or Kalamazoo. Comedians knew that there was something about hard consonant sounds like “K’ in English that was inherently funny. Why? No one knows for sure.
The original A&C routine didn’t use that name (they used the actual names of contemporary ball players Goofy and Dizzy Dean) but we thought we might get a laugh with it.
That was nice! The kids obviously liked it a lot and you did a great job!!
Shades of the late, great Lou Costello.