Abbott and Costello and “What’s the Real Unemployment Rate”?

If you haven’t seen Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First?” routine, then you are missing a comic classic. I wonder how long it took them to write and rehearse it. “They performed the routine hundreds, maybe thousands of times in vaudeville theaters and on the set of the 1945 film ‘The Naughty Nineties.'” Someone has taken the “Who’s On First?” give-and-take and did a little thing with unemployment figures. I’d love to see this in a video. It could become a classic:

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It’s 8%

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: You just said 8%.

ABBOTT: 8% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 8% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 8%.

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 8% or 16%?

ABBOTT: 8% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.

COSTELLO: IF you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, Obama said you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.


ABBOTT: No, you miss his point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.

COSTELLO: To whom?

ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are ALL unemployed!

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work gave up looking. If you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you’re off the unemployment rolls, that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Of course!

COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how it gets to 8%. If you counted them ALL it would be 16%. He doesn’t want anybody reading about 16% unemployment.

COSTELLO: Would that would be tough on his reelection?

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait a minute. Does that mean there are two ways to bring down the unemployment rate?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to have Obama’s supporters stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like the Obama Economy Czar.

COSTELLO: I don’t even know what the hell I just said!

ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like Obama!

If you’ve never seen the “Who’s On First?” routine, click on the YouTube video below. It’s about 7 minutes in length.

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