The Colgate Comedy Hour: Abbott & Costello – The Christmas Show (1952)

Originally airing on December 14, 1952 for the Colgate Comedy Hour, Abbott and Costello get to celebrate Christmas with the viewing audience and have a raucous time doing so. As with all Abbott and Costello comedy, the show moves at a rapid fire pace with consummate professionals Bud Abbott and Lou Costello having an impossible time staying still and taking a breather. Despite some segues here and there which were very typical of variety shows in the height of their popularity (there’s a wonderful dance routine by the Nicholas Brothers). Lou Costello is brilliant at reaction shots and double takes, and Bud Abbot is a wonderful straight man and foil. Also like skilled comedians, they make the best out of flubs.

One of my favorites is when Lou Costello says “YWCA” instead of “YMCA.” After the The Four Pipers open with a fun tune about buying stuff at department stores for Christmas, they sing about the fact that there are only eleven shopping days until Christmas. From there the centerpiece of the show is a skit with Abbott and Costello. The set up is that they don’t have enough money to buy gifts for Christmas, so as a scheme, Bud encourages Lou to start a fight with passersby on the street. They then will respond by pushing him through a store window and they can sue the stores for injuries. But things don’t go as planned, as Lou stands outside and insults a man’s wife’s hat, to which he agrees and insists she get rid of it. He then mocks a man’s wife for being too tall, and she pleads to stay quiet insisting she’s not his wife.

Finally, Lou accuses a man of stealing a gift, prompting him to admit that he actually did and tearfully begs him not to get him arrested on Christmas. It’s a hilarious set up with the scheme falling flat on its back. It’s especially hilarious when Lou begins weeping along with him. After Lou hands the packages to Bud, the man is angered at the pair catching him and pushes Bud in to a glass window. It’s a very high energy skit with Bud and Lou at their top of their game, and the timing is quick and sharp. Next there’s Buster Shaver and Olive doing a sweet dance to “Hello, Young Lovers,” and acrobats Tom and Jerry performing some neat stunts with some uneven bars. Even funnier than the first skit, Bud and Lou are back as Lou attempts to shave and relax his partner with the help of a radio instructor. But when Lou leaves for a moment the announcer changes to a cooking recipe, prompting much confusion and some laugh out loud comedy.

I dare you not to break down cracking up the moment Lou breaks character chortling as he rubs onions on Bud’s head. There’s another take on a classic comedy skit where the pair are moving men forced to pack and unpack various items of furniture as a married couple argue, and reconcile over and over. The special ends on typical Abbott and Costello insanity as Lou Costello sings a solid iteration of “White Christmas” with the Four Pipes and accidentally gets in to a fight the orchestra, ending the hour with a priceless knock down drag out. “Abbott and Costello – The Christmas Show,” as it’s now known, is highly recommended for comedy fans and fans of the comedy team, and it also adds a nice little warmth to Christmas.