Jewish World Review May 9, 2003 / 7 Iyar, 5763

Greg Crosby

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My monologue for Bob Hope | I've spent my life writing jokes for some pretty big name stars -- trouble is, most of them weren't real people. As a matter of fact, many of them weren't even people at all. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Huey, Louie and Dewey -- all big stars but most assuredly not people -- and definitely not real.

As a kid, my two favorite comedians were Jack Benny and Bob Hope -- they still are. To have worked as a writer for either of these men would have been a dream come true for me, but it wasn't in the cards. My life went into a totally different direction -- Disney cartoon characters. I'm not putting it down, though. Ducks, mice, and whatever the heck Goofy is have been good to me. (no letters please-- yes, I know Goofy is a dog.)

I can't help but wonder how I might have fared as one of Mr. Hope's gag writers if my life had taken a different turn. I'm sure it wouldn't have been easy. Maybe I would have been a washout. After all, doing jokes for somebody without a tail or a beak is a whole other thing. And writing for a guy who has all five fingers on his hands, instead of the cartoon requisite of four, might have proven too big an obstacle for me to overcome. But I would have loved to have given it a shot.

As I watched the excellent television special celebrating Bob Hope's 100th birthday last month I was struck with the sense that something was missing -- it was Bob Hope. Of course, at 100 years old it's understandable that he'd be more comfortable at home these days -- but just the same, I missed him. What I really missed most from the show were those great first few minutes when Bob Hope would walk out alone on stage, face the audience and go into that rat-a-tat delivery of his on current events.

Bob Hope's famous monologue kicked off every show and was always right up to the minute on what was happening around the country and throughout the world. Sure, last month's TV special included a few clips of old monologues, but that's ... old news. It's just not the same as listening to Rapid Robert needle the current politicians and take jabs at whatever may be happening with today's culture and world events.

Nobody did it better than Bob Hope. I would have loved to have heard his take on "Baghdad Bob," the comically ridiculous Iraqi Minister of Misinformation. And what would he have said about the nonsupport from our so-called friends, the French? Not to mention the Germans and Russians. Maybe, just maybe his monologue might have gone something like this:

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the show. I'm Toluca Lake Bob, not to be confused with Baghdad Bob -- my writers aren't that funny. Baghdad Bob -- how do you like that guy, huh? The only one in Iraq who doesn't know there's a war going on. He's farther out of the loupe than a jeweler with conjunctivitis. But he's out there in front of the cameras everyday saying how great Saddam is and putting down America. Just who does he think he is -- Sean Penn?

And have you been watching all those anti-war demonstrators who have been crowding into Washington and chanting "we hate Bush"? And that's only the Democratic presidential candidates.

In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 77% of Americans support President Bush -- when Al Gore heard about it he demanded another recount.

Gore says he's against going to war with Iraq, but he definitely supports our troops -- he identifies with any guys who carry excess weight and wear earth-tones.

Now that President Bush has won the war in Iraq, he can turn his attention to an even bigger challenge -- keeping the twins at home.

But wasn't it a thrill to see Bush landing on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln? And the way he flew in on that navy jet -- there hasn't been so much hot air behind a president since the Senate Democrats defended Clinton during the impeachment hearings.

I'll tell ya one thing, I'm glad baseball season is here -- it's the only chance those millionaire players have to get a little exercise. They're so rich that they don't have to steal home anymore -- they just buy it.

No wonder Michael Eisner wants to sell the Angels -- since they won the World Series they've been demanding limos to drive them around the bases.

And baseball is getting cruder all the time. Madonna has been asked to attend the opening day ceremonies -- they want her to throw out the first four-letter word.

These "reality shows" are the hottest thing on television. A lot of big names are doing them now. I wanted to try out for "Survivor" but I wasn't the right type -- they wanted someone who might actually survive. Then I tried out for "All American Girl," but I failed the physical.

I suggested that they do a reality show based on my show business career, but they said the name "Fear Factor" has already been taken.

Then I wanted to do a show that highlighted my greatest acting roles but the net

works said they weren't ready for the first "fantasy-reality show." Can you believe I'm going to be 100 years old? As George Burns once said, "If I knew I was going to live this long I'd have taken better care of myself." When I heard George tell that joke, I asked him if he'd mind if I used it. He said, "You should live so long." Well, I guess I have.

Many years ago someone asked me, "Who in the world would want to live to be 100?" I said, "Someone who is 99." And that's the truth.

The worst thing about getting old, is your sex drive becomes more like a short putt. But I'm not complaining because where there's life there's hope -- and I'm still hoping that someday they'll give me that Academy Award for acting.

Yeah, I know. I should live so long.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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