Who’s on First Had How Many Homophones?

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Who's on First position roster

Abbott and Costello’s timeless “Who’s on First” sketch used so many humorous homophones.

A homophone, of course, is a word that sounds like another word, but has a different meaning. Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” made light of the inevitable confusion.

We’ve had our own fun with homophone humor before, but “Who’s on First” is in a class by itself.

Abbott and Costello repurposed common nouns and prepositions as character names. Try to count how many humorous homophones you hear.

We’ve highlighted the ones we found in the “Who’s on First” script that follows. Our total count is at the end. Enjoy!

Abbott: But you know, strange as it may seem, they give ball players nowadays very peculiar names.

Costello: Funny names?

Abbott: Nicknames, nicknames.

Costello: Not as funny as my name: Sebastian Dimwitty.

Abbott: Oh yes, yes, yes.

Costello: Funnier than that?

Abbott: Oh absolutely yes. Now, on the St. Louis team, we have Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third.

Costello: That’s what I want to find out. I want you to tell me the names of the fellows on the St. Louis team.

Abbott: I’m telling you. Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third.

Costello: You know the fellows’ names?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Well, then who’s playing first?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: I mean the fellow’s name on first base.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The fellow playin’ first base for St. Louis.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy on first base.

Abbott: Who is on first.

Costello: Well, what are you askin’ me for?

Abbott: I’m not asking you—I’m telling you. Who is on first.

Costello: I’m asking you, “Who’s on first?”

Abbott: That’s the man’s name.

Costello: That’s who’s name?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Well go ahead and tell me.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy on first.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The first baseman.

Abbott: Who is on first.

Costello: Have you got a first baseman on first?

Abbott: Certainly.

Costello: Then who’s playin’ first?

Abbott: Absolutely.

Costello: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?

Abbott: Every dollar of it. And why not, the man’s entitled to it.

Costello: Who is?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: So who gets it?

Abbott: Why shouldn’t he? Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

Costello: Who’s wife?

Abbott: Yes. After all, the man earns it.

Costello: Who does?

Abbott: Absolutely.

Costello: Well, all I’m trying to find out is what’s the guy’s name on first base?

Abbott: Oh, no, no. What is on second base.

Costello: I’m not asking you who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first!

Costello: That’s what I’m trying to find out.

Abbott: Well don’t change the players around.

Costello: I’m not changing nobody.

Abbott: Take it easy.

Costello: What’s the guy’s name on first base?

Abbott: What’s the guy’s name on second base.

Costello: I’m not asking you who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first.

Costello: I don’t know.

Abbott: He’s on third. We’re not talking about him.

Costello: How did I get on third base?

Abbott: You mentioned his name.

Costello: If I mentioned a third baseman’s name, who did I say is playing third?

Abbott: No, Who’s playing first.

Costello: Stay off of first, will ya?

Abbott: Well what do you want me to do?

Costello: Now what’s the guy’s name on third base?

Abbott: Well What’s on second.

Costello: I’m not asking who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first.

Costello: I don’t know.

Abbott: He’s on third.

Costello: There I go, back on third again.

Abbott: Well I can’t change their names!

Costello: Will you please stay on third base, Mr. Broadhurst?

Abbott: Please, now what is it you want to know?

Costello: What is the fella’s name on third base?

Abbott: What is the fella’s name on second base.

Costello: I’m not asking you who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first.

Costello: I don’t know.

Both: Third base!

Costello: You got a outfield?

Abbott: Oh sure!

Costello: St. Louis has a good outfield?

Abbott: Oh, absolutely.

Costello: The left fielder’s name?

Abbott: Why.

Costello: I don’t know; I just thought I’d ask you.

Abbott: Well, I just thought I’d tell you.

Costello: Then tell me who’s playing left field.

Abbott: Who is playing first.

Costello: Stay out of the infield!

Abbott: Don’t mention any names out here.

Costello: I want to know what’s the fella’s name in left field.

Abbott: What is on second.

Costello: I’m not asking who’s on second.

Abbott: Who is on first.

Costello: I don’t know.

Both: Third base!

Abbott: Alright take it easy! Take it easy, man.

Costello: And the left fielder’s name?

Abbott: Why.

Costello: Because.

Abbott: Oh, he’s center field. He’s cen—will you pick up your hat please? Pick up your hat, and stop this! Now what, please?

Costello: Mr. Broadhurst?

Abbott: Yes?

Costello: Wait a minute. You got a pitcher on the team?

Abbott: Wouldn’t this be a fine team without a pitcher?

Costello: I don’t know. Tell me the pitcher’s name.

Abbott: Tomorrow.

Costello: You don’t want to tell me the name?

Abbott: I’m telling you, man.

Costello: Then go ahead.

Abbott: Tomorrow!

Costello: What time?

Abbott: What time what?

Costello: What time tomorrow you gonna tell me who’s pitching?

Abbott: Now listen. Who is not pitching. Who is on—

Costello: I’ll break your arm you say who’s on first.

Abbott: Why come up here and ask?

Costello: I want to know what’s the pitcher’s name.

Abbott: What’s on second.

Costello: I don’t know.

Both: Third base!

Costello: You got a catcher?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: The catcher’s name?

Abbott: Today.

Costello: Today. And Tomorrow’s pitching.

Abbott: Now you’ve got it.

Costello: That’s all. St. Louis has got a couple of days on the team.

Abbott: Well I can’t help that! Alright, what do you want me to do?

Costello: Got a catcher?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: I’m a good catcher too, you know.

Abbott: I know that.

Costello: I would like to play for the St. Louis team.

Abbott: Well I’m not going to arrange that, I—

Costello: I would like to catch! Now, I’m being a good catcher, Tomorrow’s pitching on the team, and I’m catching.

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Tomorrow throws the ball, and the guy up bunts the ball.

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Now when he bunts the ball—me being a good catcher—I want to throw the guy out at first base, so I pick up the ball and throw it to who?

Abbott: Now, that’s he first thing you’ve said right.

Costello: I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

Abbott: Well that’s all you have to do!

Costello: Is to throw it to first base.

Abbott: Yes!

Costello: Now who’s got it?

Abbott: Naturally!

Costello: Who has it?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: Naturally?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: Okay.

Abbott: Now you’ve got it.

Costello: I pick up the ball, and I throw it to Naturally.

Abbott: No you don’t! You throw the ball to first base.

Costello: Then who gets it?

Abbott: Naturally.

Costello: Okay.

Abbott: Alright.

Costello: I throw the ball to Naturally.

Abbott: You don’t! You throw it to Who.

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: Well that’s it. Say it that way.

Costello: That’s what I said.

Abbott: You did not.

Costello: I said I throw the ball to Naturally.

Abbott: You don’t! You throw it to Who.

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: So I throw the ball to first base and Naturally gets it.

Abbott: No! You throw the ball to first base.

Costello: Then who gets it?

Abbott: Naturally!

Costello: That’s what I’m saying.

Abbott: You’re not saying that.

Costello: Excuse me folks.

Abbott: It’s alright, I’m sorry friends.

Costello: I throw the ball to Naturally.

Abbott: You throw it to Who.

Costello: Naturally.

Abbott: That’s it. Well, say it that way.

Costello: That’s what I’m saying!

Abbott: Don’t get excited, now. Don’t get excited.

Costello: I throw the ball to first base!

Abbott: And then Who gets it.

Costello: He better get it!

Abbott: That’s it, alright. Now don’t get excited. Take it easy.

Costello: Hmm.

Abbott: Huh.

Costello: Now I throw the ball to first base. Whoever it is grabs the ball, so the guy runs to second.

Abbott: Uh-huh.

Costello: Who picks up the ball and throws it to What. What throws it to I Don’t Know. I Don’t Know throws it back to Tomorrow—a triple play.

Abbott: Yeah, it could be.

Costello: Another guy gets up and it’s a long fly ball to Because. Why? I Don’t Know. He’s on third. And I don’t care.

Abbott: What was that?

Costello: I said, “I DON’T CARE!”

Abbott: Oh, that’s our shortstop!

We counted 100 humorous homophones sprinkled throughout “Who’s on First.” That is such a round number that we wonder whether Abbott and Costello kept writing the script for Who’s on First until they reached 100 misunderstandings. How many did you count?

Want more?

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