Abbot-60, Costello-40. Supply and demand: there were (and are) far fewer
good straight men than good funny men. Think how someone gets to be a
comic: he wants to tell jokes and make people laugh. Working at this for
years and years, he builds up the necessary skills of timing & delivery.
Being a straight man is different, the kind of job you wander into
accidentally. Nobody starts out in life with the ambition to stand next to
another guy who is cracking jokes. Yet the straight-man skill set is just
as deep. For example: you must train yourself NOT TO MOVE A MUSCLE while
your partner is delivering a line. If you even blink, it distracts the
audience’s attention to you, and they miss your partner’s line. There is a
lot about this in Phil Silver’s excellent and funny autobiography.