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Abbott and Costello – Captain Jonah and the Whale routine

Captain Jonah and the Whale routine, made famous by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

One of Abbott and Costello’s lesser-known routines, but performed by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in their first movie One Night in the Tropicsin “Here Come the Co-Eds“, on their television show episode “The Drugstore“, and also on the Colgate television show. The “Here Come the Co-Eds” version is perfect, as they perform it in a classroom of co-eds for audience reaction, and this is transcribed from that version. Bud and Lou are janitors dusting a classroom, where the girls are writing some jokes for the school play. The sympathy Lou gets from the girls adds to the atmosphere of the routine, unlike any other version. Much of the humor comes from the rapid-fire delivery of the lines, that Abbott and Costello were masters of.

Bud Abbott (Slats): Jokes? I wish we had a couple of jokes to give you!
Lou Costello (Oliver): What do you mean “I wish you had a couple”?
Bud Abbott (Slats): I said
Lou Costello (Oliver): I got a joke!
Bud Abbott (Slats): You gotta joke?
Lou Costello (Oliver): A brand new one, I wrote myself.
Bud Abbott (Slats): Where’d you get it?
Lou Costello (Oliver): I wrote it!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Aaaarr, stop!
Lou Costello (Oliver): Yes I did Slats, I did.
Bud Abbott (Slats): You wrote a joke?
Lou Costello (Oliver): It’s a brand new joke and I’d like to tell it to the girls for the first time. I think they’ll like it!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Is it brand new?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Maybe they can use it for the show.
Bud Abbott (Slats): Hey! That’s a good idea!
[enthusiastic “yeah”s from the girls.]
Lou Costello (Oliver): The only thing is … err … I tell this one by myself. I don’t need you!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Oh, that’s alright. That’s alright. But you say it’s brand new?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Yeah!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Nobody’s ever heard it?
Lou Costello (Oliver): No! And I tell the story and you keep your mouth shut! [to audience] It’s about a whale, a ship and Jonah!
Bud Abbott (Slats): And it’s brand new?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Very brand new story, yeah! Now once upon a time there was a whale.
Bud Abbott (Slats): Huh? What kind of a whale?
Lou Costello (Oliver): And this whale…
Bud Abbott (Slats): …what kind of whale?
Lou Costello (Oliver): A plain everyday whale!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Alright…I…
Lou Costello (Oliver): How do I know what kind of whale?? What do you think I do? Go round with whales or something?
Bud Abbott (Slats): sshh sshh please!
Lou Costello (Oliver): Don’t try to make a fool out of me in front of the girls!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Alright, go ahead!
Lou Costello (Oliver): I mean a plain everyday whale, that’s all!
Bud Abbott (Slats): It’s always a whale
Lou Costello (Oliver): How do I know what kind of whale?
Bud Abbott (Slats): Alright!
Lou Costello (Oliver): Now, the whale was in the ocean and…
Bud Abbott (Slats): What Ocean?
Lou Costello (Oliver): he was…mmm
Bud Abbott (Slats): Well I mean…
Lou Costello (Oliver): Go on…pick out an ocean, go ahead
Bud Abbott (Slats): That’s immaterial to me
Lou Costello (Oliver): Alright, the immaterial ocean.
Bud Abbott (Slats): Oh come on!
Lou Costello (Oliver): Now, the whale was in the immaterial ocean, minding his own business, he was following a ship!
Bud Abbott (Slats): What ship?
Lou Costello (Oliver): And this ship
Bud Abbott (Slats): What ship?
Lou Costello (Oliver): A ship that swims in the water!
Bud Abbott (Slats): You mean a swimship?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Yeah.
Bud Abbott (Slats): Ooh!
Lou Costello (Oliver): Now the whale was following the swimship, because he…[registering] WHOEVER HEARD OF A SWIMSHIP?? I asked you to keep your mouth shut didn’t I?
Bud Abbott (Slats): You’re telling the story!
Lou Costello (Oliver): You’re getting me MAD!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Wait a minute – when do we laugh at this thing?
Lou Costello (Oliver): They’re laughing before they’re supposed to. [to girls] Don’t laugh now! I didn’t say nothing yet!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Go ahead, go ahead
Lou Costello (Oliver): Now, the whale was in the ocean. She was very hungry and Jonah was the Captain of the boat, he didn’t want the whale to capsize the boat
Bud Abbott (Slats): What?
Lou Costello (Oliver): To capsize the boat!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Capsize?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Yeah! he … he …
Bud Abbott (Slats): You know what that means?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Sure! I … I don’t put words like that in stories if I don’t know what they are!! He didn’t want the whale to capsize the boat
Bud Abbott (Slats): What – what … what does it mean?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Capsize.
Bud Abbott (Slats): Capsize
Lou Costello (Oliver): That … that’s a big word!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Well, what does it mean?
Lou Costello (Oliver): [looks uncomfortable]
Bud Abbott (Slats): You know what it means?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Sure …
Bud Abbott (Slats): [interrupting] Well, what does it mean? What does capsize mean?
Lou Costello (Oliver): It’s a nice word!
Bud Abbott (Slats): But what does it mean?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Capsize
Bud Abbott (Slats): Capsize
Lou Costello (Oliver): It’s like 6 & 7/8s, 7-1/4
Bud Abbott (Slats): Alright, go ahead! Go ahead!
(girls laughing)
Lou Costello (Oliver): So he didn’t want the whale to 6 7/8ths of the boat,
Bud Abbott (Slats): Alright go ahead
Lou Costello (Oliver): See? So Captain Jonah was the captain of the boat and he was afraid he was going to lose some passengers, so Captain Jonah figured the only thing he could do is to throw the barrel … the whale a barrel of apples ….
Bud Abbott (Slats): What kind of apples?
Lou Costello (Oliver): … and ….
Lou Costello (Oliver): [looks annoyed]
Bud Abbott (Slats): What kind of apples?
Lou Costello (Oliver): Apples that grow on the tree
Bud Abbott (Slats): Well, there’s all kind of apples. There’s bowman apples there’s…
Lou Costello (Oliver): [interrupting] CRABAPPLES!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Well tell the girls that!
Lou Costello (Oliver): [loud voice] He threw over a barrel of crabapples!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Take it easy. Take it easy!
Lou Costello (Oliver): He’s got me mad at you kids now!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Now just take it easy!
Lou Costello (Oliver): Now after the whale ate the apples, the whale was still hungry and Captain Jonah figured the only thing he could do was throw the whale over a stool – (quickly) what kind of stool?
Bud Abbott (Slats): Who said that?
Lou Costello (Oliver): I did! That’s in case you asked me!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Oh!
Lou Costello (Oliver): Jonah threw over a camp stool. Now, the whale ate the apples and he ate the stool but the whale was still hungry. His appetite had not been appeased – (to Bud) don’t ask me what that means, I don’t know.
Bud Abbott (Slats): I won’t ask, go ahead!
Lou Costello (Oliver): So, after the whale ate the apples and he ate the stool, the whale was still hungry and Captain Jonah figured the only way he could save his passengers, and his boat, is to sacrifice himself.
Bud Abbott (Slats): Yes.
Lou Costello (Oliver): And he did. He threw a beautiful jack-knife dive right into the mouth of the whale. Now the whale ate Captain Jonah, he ate the apples and he ate the stool, and the whale swam away.
Bud Abbott (Slats): Yeah [wanting to interrupt]
Lou Costello (Oliver): [not letting him] Three years later, they caught that very same whale…
Bud Abbott (Slats): Yeah, Oliver…
Lou Costello (Oliver): They cut him open
Bud Abbott (Slats): … Wait a minute…
Lou Costello (Oliver): And what do you think they found?
Bud Abbott (Slats): Oliver, just a minute
[girls laughing]
Lou Costello (Oliver): Not now! Not now!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Wait a minute
Lou Costello (Oliver): Now, he says something, and then I tell you the funny joke!
Bud Abbott (Slats): Wait a minute Oliver. Just a minute! Now, you’re not coming up here this afternoon infront of these girls, and try to give them, for their little play, a joke, an old wheeze, about the time they found the whale and cut him open and there they found Jonah seated on that stool selling those apples three for a nickel are you?
Lou Costello (Oliver): [mortified]
[girls laughing]
Bud Abbott (Slats): [to girls] – Now wait a minute! [To Lou] That’s not the story you … Oh no. no. no. [polite again]. I’m sorry. No, it couldn’t be that because, that’s right, he promised us it was a brand new joke. He wrote it himself. It couldn’t be that because every little schoolboy knows that joke. (To Lou). No, I’m sorry. Go ahead. You tell the girls what they found when they cut the whale open.
Lou Costello (Oliver): [Silently mortified, looking sick]
[Silent pause – girls laughing]
Bud Abbott (Slats): [to girls] Now, wait a minute please. Give Oliver a chance. After all, he wrote this himself. If you girls can use it in the play, go right ahead! [To Lou] Go ahead!
[Silence except for girls laughing]
Bud Abbott (Slats): Tell the girls! Tell the girls what they found when they cut the whale open.
[girls laughing]
Bud Abbott (Slats): Now, don’t laugh girls. Please, he’ll blame me for this.
[girls laughing]
Bud Abbott (Slats): No, I thought it was build up to that old joke, you know, but every little school boy knows that, he wouldn’t tell that – he wouldn’t dare tell that one [to Lou] Go ahead
[Silence]
Bud Abbott (Slats): You know the answer don’t you?
Lou Costello (Oliver): [nodding slightly]
Bud Abbott (Slats): Eh?
Lou Costello (Oliver): [looking sick, slightly walking away]
Bud Abbott (Slats): What’s the matter, don’t you feel good?
Lou Costello (Oliver): [Shakes head slightly]
Bud Abbott (Slats): You go ahead and…tell the joke, and we’ll go inside and clean the other room.
Lou Costello (Oliver): [backing off]
[girls laughing and feeling sorry for Lou]
Bud Abbott (Slats): Go ahead. No, here! Tell it right here!
Lou Costello (Oliver): [Walking towards door]
Bud Abbott (Slats): Oliver! Look Oliver! Oliver! [Goes to Lou, puts hand on shoulder] Is there something wrong? Oh, now come on Oliver…
[Bell rings and girls leave room]
Bud Abbott (Slats): …I didn’t mean any harm! Oliver! Was that the joke you wanted to tell?
Lou Costello (Oliver): [Head against wall nods slightly].

About

Tom Raymond, aka. Raynbow the Clown, has been a professional clown and balloon twister for over 15 years, and runs several clown-related websites such as Famous Clowns, Best Clean Funny Jokes

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