Sunday, March 6, 2022

Abbot and Costello Discuss Zen

by Jack Urso

Costello: Hey Bud! Whatcha’ doin’?

Abbott: I’m reading this fascinating National Geographic article on the Japanese philosophy of Zen.

Costello: Reading it just for the articles, huh?

Abbott: [slaps Lou] Hey! Show some respect! What would you know about Zen anyhow?

Costello: I can sing a few bars. [singing] “Zen enchanting evening . . .”

Abbott: Come on, Lou . . .

Costello: [singing] “One day, nothing will be mine!”

Abbott: Knock it off! Look, either you know something about Zen or not.

Costello: Why, I just happen to know nothing about Zen.

Abbott: I bet you know nothing about Zen.

Costello: You betcha. Why, I even took a correspondence course.

Abbott: Really? A correspondence course, huh? OK, wise guy. What did you learn?

Costello: Nothing.

Abbott: Nothing?

Costello: That’s right, nothing.

Abbott: You’re telling me you studied Zen and learned nothing?

Costello: Precisely.

Abbott: I should have guessed you would've learned nothing.

Costello: Well, that was the whole point, wasn’t it?

Abbott: Look Lou, if you studied Zen, you must be able to tell me something about it.

Costello: I certainly can!

Abbott: OK, so what is Zen all about?

Costello: Nothing.

Abbott: [exasperated] Look Lou, this is a very simple question. Can you tell me even one basic tenant of Zen?

Lou: I can.

Abbott: OK, what is it? Please enlighten me, oh Swami Lou!

Costello: Zen instructs us to detach from our ego-consciousness to be free from the suffering of the world and the suffering we cause ourselves. Only when we empty ourselves of our desires and attachments so that nothing affects our state of being can we embrace the true nature of the universe. 

Abbott: [long pause] I never liked you Lou.

Costello: And I got a certificate to prove it!

Abbott: Really? Let’s see it!

Costello: [reaches into his wallet and pulls out a piece of paper] Here you go.

Abbott: There’s nothing on this!

Costello: That was the advanced course.
●             ●             ●


  1. Classic Abbot and Costello. Did you create the dialogue, or is this straight from the horses mouths? Who would have thought Zen could fit into their comedy. Enjoyed it. Great job.

  2. Yes, I wrote the dialog. Abbott and Costello were great at wordplay, which as a writer I appreciate. I also used them in "Abbott and Costello Discuss the World Health Organization" which you can find by looking through the link under "Short Stories" on top.