Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bob Hope's Dirty Jokes: Taking Peter to Toyland

Bob Hope's considered one of the cleanest comics ever to work a room. In his Hope biography Bob Hope: A Life in Comedy William Faith describes Hope's aversion to blue material. Hope, in that sense, was like Groucho Marx, who lamented the post-Lenny Bruce surge in dirty/taboo jokes.

But just because Hope didn't like off-colour comedy doesn't mean that he wasn't capable of getting off a joke. Hope was of the generation of the double-entendre, and most of his dirty stuff--well, all of his dirty stuff--was the product of what would now be considered cheap or kitschy.

The most famous Hope double-entendre had him cavorting with a beautiful ingenue. She reached into his pocket--ostensibly to retrieve something that Hope was childishly withholding--and said, "I feel a little silly."

Hope, quick on the deadpan, shot back: "Well, reach a little deeper and you'll feel a little dick."

The scene was excised from the broadcast, and was supposedly burned by producers who feared a huge fine.

But Hope's best line was spoken during an episode of The Bob Hope Show that aired on December 12, 1939. The episode, entitled Taking Peter to Toyland, follows Hope as he travels through a "Santa's workshop" kind of toy store/factory.

If you listen to the show, you'll notice that it opens with a huge laugh. But what are they laughing at? Well, a friend doing research in the Library of Congress had occasion to hear the original tape. The pre-cut tape. (The episode that aired was censored, and the line never went out on air.)

Here's the joke:

"I took my little nephew Frank and my little niece Cindy to Toyland. Frank's a smart kid. I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, and he said he didn't know. 'What about a pogo stick, just like dad's?' I asked him. 'Wouldn't you like to play with that?' 'OK,' he said, 'but I'm not sharing mine with sis'.'"

That's 1939 for you, folks.

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