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’m re-revisiting after a Thanksgiving to remember with a certain kicking family.
This week we’ll be looking at 1982, when Reaganomics allowed for ketchup to be declared a vegetable and Eric Dickerson’s Trans-Am to be considered “a gift from his grandmother.” The greatest quarterback class in NFL history (and the third greatest in USFL history) is only represented here by John Elway, presumably because Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Ken O’Brien and Todd Blackledge didn’t want the Baltimore Colts to know they existed.
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 Herschel Walker was not yet the Olympic bobsled legend we know and revere today. Also of a time when the definition of “joke” was different, and a bit more generous.
Eric Dickerson, SMU RB: “He’s better at making cuts than David Stockman.”
Terry Hoage, Georgia DB: “He’s the biggest grabber this side of the IRS.”
Gordon Hudson, BYU WR: “The way he chews up opposing linemen, he makes Pac-Man look like a vegetarian.”
THE JOKE’S ON HOPE:
Herschel Walker, Georgia RB: “Herschel, how did it feel when you won the Heisman?” “The same way it did when you won the Oscar, Bob.”
Bill Fralic, Pittsburgh OT: “Bill is it true that you ripped holes in opposing lines big enough for the Pitt band to march through?” “Well the tuba section had trouble fitting through.”
Anthony Carter, Michigan WR: “Anthony you’re going to the Rose Bowl again. You must be on Cloud 9.” “That’s right, Bob. Anything to get above the smog.”
TWO BUTT JOKES IN THE SAME SEGMENT? OKAY...:
Bruce Matthews, USC OG: “When Bruce was born and the doctor slapped him, his father had him penalized for unnecessary roughness.”
John Elway, Stanford QB: “They call John ‘Hypodermic’, because he hits so many guys in the end zone.”
Bill Fralic (again): “Bill is as strong as a bull. Next year he’ll be starring in a Merrill Lynch commercial.”
Gary Lewis, Oklahoma St. DT: “They call him ‘Ma Bell’. When he reaches out and touches you, you’re put on hold, get disconnected and spend the rest of your life listening to a busy signal.”
Jim Arnold, Vanderbilt P: “Jim has done more to popularize toes than Dr. Scholl’s.”
Wilber Marshall, Florida LB: “He’s got more muscles than you’ll see at an Arnold Schwarzenegger yard sale.”
George Achica, USC NG: “He tells me ‘War And Peace’ is the best book he’s ever eaten.”
Dave Rimington, Nebraska C: “He must’ve grown up where meat was cheap.”'
Don Mosebar, USC OT: “Don, he really rides to keep in shape. He went out this morning and he took off 15 pounds. From the horse.”