|Bill Riley||Joe Ziegler||Jason Crutchley|
|Bud Abbott||Lou Costello||Scoop Fields|
Bill Riley and Joe Ziegler transform themselves into Bud Abbott and Lou Costello through vintage dress and an authentic recreation of the team's mannerisms and vocal stylings. They perform with pinpoint accuracy many of the vaudeville and burlesque routines made famous by Bud and Lou on stage, screen, radio and television, including the classic baseball routine, "Who's On First?".
Bill Riley is a native of Paterson, New Jersey (which incidentally was Lou Costello's hometown!). He is an actor, comedian and musician who has been performing since 1960. Riley came to Baltimore in 1985 along with his wife, Gina, and son, Bryce. In August 2009, Bill retired as Director of Broadcasting at The Sheffield Institute for the Recording Arts.
Joe Ziegler, born and raised in Baltimore, has been a professional performer since the age of fifteen. "Making people laugh is what I love to do" says Ziegler. Joe, along with his wife, Sherry, has won numerous awards in years past for their portrayal of another famous duo - Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy - including a Baltimore's Best award in 1982.
Riley and Ziegler met in 1986, when Riley attended the broadcasting school where Ziegler was Dean of Students and taught commercial writing and promotions. In 1987 Riley also began working at the school and a comedy partnership was born. While both Ziegler and Riley had worked with various partners through the years - their love and admiration of Abbott and Costello combined with their own comedic chemistry and friendship sparked to form a partnership that has flourished. They have performed as Abbott and Costello since 1994 for various corporate and local business functions, private parties, civic groups, fund raisers and on radio and television. They regularly appear aboard all The John W. Brown/Project Liberty Ship “WWII Living History Cruises”, and perform yearly at The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum's "WWII Weekend" in Reading, PA and at Virginia Beach Airport's “Warbirds Over the Beach”. In addition, they perform each New Year's Eve at various “First Night Celebrations”. In May 2004, it was their great pleasure to perform in Washington, D.C. at the Disabled American Veterans' Dinner as a part of the WWII Monument Celebration/Dedication Ceremony.
Bill and Joe have worked together and independently in various capacities in radio, performed as extras in several movies, and acted in and done voice-over work for local and national commercials. In addition, Joe owns and operates a Mobile Disc Jockey company, "Hot Wax Productions".
Jason Crutchley originally began working with the team as their sound engineer and announcer in 2002. In 2004, the duo became a trio, as Jason joined Bill and Joe on stage as "Scoop Fields - Ace Press Agent". Jason also appears as various other characters in a number of routines. Prior to joining Riley and Ziegler, Crutchley, of Pylesville, MD, had worked behind the scenes in several North Harford High School productions as prop master and stage hand. He then went on to act in school musicals and stage shows, including several comedic lead roles.
In September 2006, The Golden Radio Buffs of Maryland, awarded The Ultimate Abbott and Costello Tribute Show the clubs highest honor, "The Golden Mic Award". This award was presented to Bill, Joe and Jason for their efforts to keep the memory and spirit of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello alive in the hearts of those who remember their comedic talents and for introducing these comedy legends to new generations.
On the morning of Friday Sept. 23, 2016 Joe had a stroke. He was taken to a local Baltimore hospital where he was diagnosed and it was discovered that he was still bleeding internally in his brain. He was then medevacked to a hospital in DC to release the pressure in his head. After the procedure they found that he still had a lot of blood in his brain, and he had extensive brain damage. His chances of recovery were extremely slim at that point, and even if by some chance he did recover, he would have had very limited use of his limbs and voice. Those of you that were close to him would know that he would not have been happy with that. His family gathered to say their good byes, and on the afternoon of Saturday, September 24th, 2016 he passed away at 3:47pm.
Words can not begin to describe the loss that we have all felt. Joe touched countless lives with his charm and humor through out the decades. And this sudden turn of events caught us all by surprise.
Several years ago, Joe had a massive heart attack and had multiple stints put in. At the time the doctors said he had 90% blockage, and they were amazed that he was even still alive. But he pulled though and made a good recovery. Only to do it again later on, though not as bad as the first one. Early 2016 he had back surgery to help relieve nerve damage in his spine. He was still moving around and performing all summer. Not everyone may know this, but behind the scenes, Joe had become diabetic in the mid 2000's. He kept it a secret for many years and only began telling people in 2014.
Despite all this Joe had carried on and would tell people "I can't die I'm booked" And honestly, I think many of us believed that. Which only made the quickness of his passing that much harder for many of us to bear.
Joe's final performance was Thursday, September 29th, 2016 at the Schimunek Funeral Home in Baltimore, MD