Wed, Jul 30, 2003 - Page 16 News List

Seven decades and 7 million jokes

AFP , LOS ANGELES

US comedian Bob Hope, whose death was announced Monday, assembled an unprecedented archive of around 7 million jokes during his seven-decade career -- all of them clean.

The funnyman's collection of gags even won a place among the trophies and knicknacks of presidents of the US when the country's Library of Congress opened a permanent exhibit of his wisecracks in 2000.

The display features examples of Hope's jokes alongside photographs of his childhood and his early career in show business of the entertainer who celebrated his centenary less than two months ago.

Many of Hope's biting one-liners have entered popular culture, but despite his popularity and readiness to take potshots at politicians and rival Hollywood stars, the family man always eschewed blue humor.

Hope employed over 100 writers to create jokes and lines for his famous and topical radio and stage monologues, and got inside information from army personnel in order to create in-jokes to amuse the 10 million troops he entertained over the years.

Here are some of the jokes and one-liners that made the comic and actor, who left Britain at the age of four for America, one of the best-known entertainers of the 20th century.

On his British roots, he said:

-- "I left England at an early age, as soon as I was old enough to realize they already had a king."

-- My folks were English ... we were too poor to be British."

On his passion for golf:

-- "Golf is my profession. Show business is just to pay the green fees," he said of his lifelong love of the game which he helped popularize.

-- "I set out to play golf with the intention of shooting my age, but I shot my weight instead!"

On his old age and busy life, Hope quipped:

-- "I don't feel old -- I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap."

-- "If I had my life to live over ... I wouldn't have time."

-- "You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake."

-- "I'm so old that they've canceled my blood type," he said just before his 100th birthday in May

-- "I was able to find my original birth certificate, but it took three guys to help me get it. Stone tablets are heavy."

On the Oscars:

-- "Oscar night at my house is called Passover," he said of the awards which he never won for his movie work.

On his childhood and large family:

-- "I came from a very big family. Four of us slept in the same bed. When we got cold, Mother threw on another brother. With so many boys, my father bought us a dachshund so we could all pet him at the same time."

On performing before a live audience:

-- "I really played some rough houses. I remember one theater: The audience was so rough, they used to tie the tomatoes on the end of yo-yos so they could hit you twice."

On Sex:

-- "My father told me all about the birds and the bees, the liar -- I went steady with a woodpecker till I was 21."

On his partnership with pal Bing Crosby, co-star of the "Road to ..." movies:

-- "It was love at first sight. We started to insult each other from the moment we met."

-- "Bing was always kissing Dorothy Lamour, and I was always kissing a gorilla or a camel. We both made a lot of money. But most of mine went to cure hoof-and-mouth disease."

-- "You know, all during the years, people have tried to describe Bing's voice, but I think my grandmother came closest of all. She says it sounds like a passionate cow being milked with suede gloves."

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