The set never seemed to change, only the players and the wording of the jokes. This was Bob Hope's annual tradition of gumming some one-liners about the various Associated Press All-American team, a tradition I'll be revisiting at various moments in its history over coming weeks. We'll start our journey towards the laffs in 1980. Bob Hope was in his late seventies by this point, yet still seemed to know what the people want: bad puns about good football players.
These segments, shot for Bob Hope’s annual Christmas special, are a time capsule of then-current events and comedy stylings. They also remind us of a long-gone time, when Mark May was more than just the one guy we hated more than Lou Holtz on ESPN’s College Football Live. Also of a time when the definition of “joke” was different, and a bit more generous.
PLAYS ON FOOTBALL TERMINOLOGY:
Ken Margerum, Stanford WR: “Ken’s record this season has been phenomenal. He’s caught more passes than Bo Derek at a fraternity homecoming.”
Ronnie Lott, USC S: “He’s pounded more big ends than a masseur at Weight Watchers.”
POP CULTURE REFERENCES:
Anthony Carter, Michigan WR: “Anthony may be only 161 pounds, but is he tough. During summer vacations he babysits for The Incredible Hulk.”
Mike Singletary, Baylor LB: “He makes the shark from Jaws look like a vegetarian.”
Mark May, Pittsburgh OT: “Don’t get him angry. When he blows his top, he looks like Mount St. Helen’s.
George Rogers, South Carolina RB: “He moves faster than a Democrat leaving Washington.”
DIGS ON GEOGRAPHICAL/RELIGIOUS ORIGIN:
E.J. Junior, Alabama LB: “E.J.’s from Nashville, and his favorite pastime is twanging ‘Wabash Cannonball’ on the opposing quarterback’s nose while he’s sitting on his head.”
John Scully, Notre Dame C: “He’s 6’5”, he weighs 255, and he had his playbook blessed by the Pope.”
Lawrence Taylor, North Carolina LB: “Yes sir, Larry is strong and rugged and very neat. He’d never think of stomping on a running back before wiping his feet.”