One of the first reactions that people have when I tell them I’m a comedian (right after blurting “Tell me a joke!”) is that they ask me who my favorite comedians are – who I listen to, who my inspiration is. Often the answer they expect is a contemporary stand-up, so I give them what they’re asking for. After all, it’s no lie that I’ve been influenced by Lewis Black, Louis C.K., and any other guys with some form of that name.
The thing is, the folks who sold the idea of “being funny” to me in the first place weren’t stand-ups, and they weren’t from the era I grew up in. When I was a child, Sunday afternoons consisted of my mother playing a marathon from her collection of Abbott and Costello movies. We listened to Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner’s “The 2000 Year Old Man” on long car rides (and some short car rides). Eventually, when I was old enough to get into Saturday Night Live, I became way more interested in the episodes from the ‘70’s, and fell in a tender platonic love with Gilda Radner.
I found my way down an Internet rabbit hole of all these things earlier, and found a treasure trove of old Abbott and Costello movies, including many of the ones that are in my mom’s collection (she was mostly interested in their mysteries/spooky ones, though a few exceptions had also popped up on the shelf over time).
That link in particular is to the first half of Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (a lot of the movies are divided into 2 videos), and along the sidebar are a whole bunch of others.
Go, enjoy your trip down memory lane (or educating-yourself-on-comedy-history lane).