The set never seemed to change, only the players and (occasionally) 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. This week we’ll be looking at 1984, remembered forever as the year in which George Orwell’s horrific visions of Brigham Young winning the national championship came true, and also as the year that Mark Bavaro was first loosed on an unsuspecting world.
These segments, shot for 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 pro wrestling semi-star “The Patriot" was only taking steroids for football purposes and Gerald Ford's Gerald Ford-iness was a killer punchline. Also and more generally, they remind us of a time when the definition of “joke” was different, and a bit more generous.
PLAYS ON FOOTBALL TERMINOLOGY:
Del Wilkes, South Carolina G: “He doesn’t even wear a face mask. That’s because he keeps eating it.”
Lomas Brown, Florida T: “He’s going to play in the Hula Bowl and the Senior Bowl. At the same time.”
Keith Byars, Ohio State RB: “He’s more dangerous with the ball than Gerry Ford.”
John Lee, UCLA K: “John’s longest kick at UCLA was a 52-yarder... and it almost caused an international incident. It showed up on the anti-missile radar screen in Moscow.”
DIGS ON GEOGRAPHICAL/RELIGIOUS ORIGIN:
Larry Station, Iowa LB: “He was born in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.”
Mark Bavaro, Notre Dame TE: “Earlier this year, this Notre Dame star had a slight leg injury. It was later diagnosed as holy water on the knee.”
Leslie O’Neal, Oklahoma St. DT: “Leslie’s kinda large. When he plays he has to wear a number and a license plate.”
Bruce Smith, Virginia Tech DT: “If we had anything this big when I went to school we held the senior prom in it.”
Jack Del Rio, USC LB: “When Jack is finished sacking quarterbacks, he can’t wait to turn pro so he can appear in beer commercials. He told me he’s not sure what he enjoys more, a blitz or a Schlitz.”
Tony Thurman, Boston College DB: Hope: “When you are training, do you go out with any girls?” Thurman: “It’s part of my training.”
Mark Bavaro (again): “He’s got more tricky moves than a nudist in a bumblebee convention.”