DVD Review: The Abbot and Costello Show: Who’s on First?

Hi again!

Though life is full of funny moments, I’ve only found a few things that can make me laugh consistently. Among them are Mel Brooks (nearly any of his films from Spaceballs and earlier), George Carlin, Monty Python, and Abbot and Costello‘s “Who’s on First?” routine. All of these comedy greats are masters of pointing out the absurdities of the English language.

Over the last few years, I’ve been introducing my kids to some of these older comic greats as they’ve become more comfortable with language and responsibility. Though it wouldn’t do to have them reciting Carlin’s “The Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television” in class and have them get in trouble on my account! Along those lines, I’ve been seeking some of the comedy greats from television before swearing was commonplace. So when I saw that Entertainment One U.S. would be distributing DVDs of some of the The Abbott & Costello Show episodes from the 1950s, I knew it was a perfect opportunity to share more wordplay with my kids.

Like many comedy groups of that era, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello started long before television. They started with stage routines, eventually moving to movies and radio, and finally to television. In 1952, The Abbott and Costello Show entered syndication on stations around the country and the pair were able to use many of the same routines on television as they did on stage, screen and radio.

It’s impossible for me to think about the pair without thinking of their “Who’s on First?” routine. The combination of word play and confusion, for both Lou and the audience, made it an instant classic. If you don’t know the routine, it’s about the names of the baseball players on a team Abbott manages. The first baseman’s name is “Who,” the second baseman’s name is “What” and the third baseman’s name is “I Don’t Know.” You can imagine the confusion as they try to answer the question of “Who’s on First?” “Who.” “Exactly – who’s on first?” “Right! Who’s on First…”

So to see the routine live on the episode “The Actor’s House,” was very cool. My daughters were confused, but the light went on in my 4th grader’s eyes, so I suspect I’ll be hearing stories about her attempts to tell her friends at school about it next week!

The The Abbot and Costello Show: Who’s on First? DVD includes six episodes – “The Dentist’s Office,” “The Birthday Party,” “The Charity Bazaar,” “Hungry,” “The Music Lovers,” and “The Actor’s Home.” These episodes include routines such as “Who’s on First?”, “The Lemon Pit,” “Alexander 4444,” “The Piano Bit (Alright!)” and many more. It was amazing to see all of these routines – and they’re just as funny now as they were back in the 1930s and 1940s.

Many of these routines were new to me, including “Alexander 4444” where Lou tries to make a local call and can’t get through, but characters keep interrupting him to use the phone to call long distance about the coffee business (“It’s a grind…”), a kangaroo farm (“The whole place is jumping…”), and others… Fun writing like that makes these routines family friendly and still hilarious.

In addition to Bud & Lou, the series also included other great characters including Sidney Fields, the pair’s always angry landlord; Hillary Brooke, the beautiful girl next door; Mike “The Cop” Kelly, who was always on Lou’s case; “Stinky” Davis (Joe Besser), the mean kid next door; and Mr. Bacciagalupe (Joe Kirk), the entrepreneur always thrown for a loop when the boys would “drop by.” All of these characters added to the brilliant and quick-witted minds of Abbott & Costello to produce some unforgettable moments.

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy two of the greatest comedic minds of a lost era, definitely check out The Abbot and Costello Show: Who’s on First? on DVD. You won’t be sorry and maybe you’ll figure out if Who IS on first base!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.


p.s. Pick up this and other great comedy classics below!

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DVD Review: Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire

Hi there,

Yes, you read that title correctly – Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire. Is it redundant? Isn’t a “Sword of Fire” typically “Flaming”? Probably. But for a comedy action adventure set in a strange fantasy land oppressed by an evil ruler, you probably need just a touch of redundancy.

Though Krod Mandoon only lasted 6 episodes, I watched them all when they aired on Comedy Central starting in April 2009. My wife thought I was crazy. And undoubtedly I probably am. But I enjoyed this strange, off-kilter show with a kind of sick glee each time a new episode aired.

Now you can find all the episodes, plus some great bonuses on a new DVD from Comedy Central.

The series follows the exploits of hero Kröd Mändoon (Sean Maguire) as he and his band of freedom fighters struggle against the evil ruler Chancellor Dongalor (Matt Lucas). Accompanying Kröd in his quest are his “girlfriend” – the beautiful pagan warrior Aneka (India de Beaufort), his servant – a Grobble (sort of like a pig/man combination) named Loquasto (Steve Speirs), a young warlock who’s true strength is the power of BS named Zezelryck (Kevin Hart), and the Gay lover of Kröd’s mentor General Arcadius – Bruce (Marques Ray). The evil Chancellor also has a few team members helping his along on his quest of world domination – the always loyal Barnabus (Alex MacQueen) who tries mightily to guide Dongalor to better decisions, but is often ignored; and the love of Donaglor’s life – “Cute Girl” (Remie Purtill-Clarke) – a concubine taken when Dongalor killed her father to prove a point.

Yes, it’s a rather strange cast of characters. But as someone who has enjoyed playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons over the years, I have to say it’s probably not the most bizarre party I’ve ever seen. And as a gamer, this show plays on many of the various themes and plot twists we find regularly in our gaming sessions.

Through the six episodes (a one hour premiere and five thirty minute shows), we see Kröd and Dongalor stumble through situation after situation until the plot comes to a head. We learn more about Kröd’s relationship with the pagan Aneka. Aneka isn’t a one-man kind of girl and resists being tied down to Kröd, but that doesn’t stop Kröd from trying to change her mind. The “Resistance” was led by General Arcadius until his death, but now looks to Kröd and the resistance ruling council for direction. And all along, Chancellor Dongalor has been assembling the deadly Eye of Gulga Grymna – an ancient weapon of immense power – and he wants to eradicate the resistance once and for all…

Honestly if you’re not a fan of Monty Python, Mel Brooks, or the group behind movies like Scary Movie, you probably won’t enjoy the humor. It gets pretty sophomoric in places, including many visual references to genitalia and sexual relations throughout the series. But if you like that sort of thing (and I have to admit I do if it’s done well), there are a lot of very funny scenes – especially when you get to “O Biclops, Where Art Thou?” The whole bisexual cyclops twist had me in stitches for quite a while.

Also included on the DVD are several special features. Among them I found the “Behind the Scenes with Kevin Hart”, the “Outtakes,” and the “Cast Interviews” enlightening to see and hear more about what went on during production. The interviews were especially interesting, since I had no idea Sean Maguire was British!

If you like sexual humor, raunchy sight gags, and stereotype-based humor, you’ll probably like the series and should check out Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire on DVD at your favorite rental or retail counter. But it won’t be for everybody.


p.s. Pick up Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire below!

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Comedies from Yesteryear compared to Today…

Young FrankensteinImage via Wikipedia

Hey all…

After seeing Tropic Thunder and not really enjoying it all that much (you can see my review here), I have been thinking about what it is that really makes me laugh on film.

Four of my favorite funny films of all times are Mel Brooks pictures – Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, History of the World Part I, and Spaceballs.

You have some of the other comedy films from the 1980s and early 1990s — Naked Gun, Naked Gun 2 1/2, Airplane, Airplane 2, Hot Shots, and Hot Shots, Part Deux.

If you go back a little further, you have Abbot and Costello and the Three Stooges.

But if you go back even a little further, there were the greats of the by-gone age. Charlie Chaplin is my favorite of the days of early film, but Buster Keaton and the Keystone Cops rank right up there.

Is it sad to say that I find it easier to identify with the comedies of the early 1990s and earlier, but there you have it.

I can’t say that many of the “new” comedies have really done much for me. Will Ferrell and Seth Grodin don’t do much for me (though Will Ferrell can be funny at times). Steve Carrell doesn’t do much for me. Jack Black has his moments.

What does all this boil down to? My tastes seem to run to intelligent comedy or satire for the most part, but slapstick owns a place in my heart. And all comedies ultimately get compared to the greats I’ve discussed so far.

What about you? Do you have any favorites from Today or Yesterday? Leave me a comment and let’s see what everybody thinks of as their favorite comedy of all time.

I’ll start off by saying that Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein is probably my all time favorite comedy.

What’s yours?


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