Wednesday, July 11, 2012

'till sydicated rerun do us part

Perhaps the most widely accepted and retold segment of American Urban Legend comes from the game show, "The Newlywed Game," hosted by Bob Eubanks. In the game show, Bob asked newlywed couples questions separately then asked the same questions to the spouses to see if the answers matched. Inevitably sexual innuendo or a mild argument would occur, to the delight of the studio audience. The particular bit of Urban Legend I am referring to comes from the pantheon of retro TV and tells of a question asked of a woman on the show by Eubanks, in which he inquires as to the strangest place she and her husband have ever made whoopie, to which she responds, "In the butt."

I heard a comedian once explain what makes something funny. He described a joke as a story you tell where the listener thinks you're going in one direction, then at the last second, you make a left. Indeed, the question's answer was a left turn towards the poop-chute, and an interesting one at that, but did it really happen? Reading the Snopes article on this matter, I found out that in a 1997 Entertainment Weekly interview, Bob Eubanks denied that question and answer ever took place on the show. As devastating as the Black Sox scandal, I didn't want to believe it (say it ain't so, Bob). After all, this simple question and answer points out the true kryptionic aspect of being an American, namely, we say strange stuff when we think we are going to be on TV!

As disappointing as Bob's declaration may have been, I have good news. There is hope in our dopey American TV crazed, Jersey Shore, America's Funniest Video, Candid Camera, identity, and that comes from the golden archive of video tape.

Snopes found a transcript of a Newlywed Game episode from 1977 in which Bob asked a husband, Hank, where he thought the weirdest place his wife ever had the urge to make whoopie was. Olga, Hank's wife, stammered while the audience laughed, until she gave the answer, "Is it in the ass?"

Laughter followed as the audience reacted to the left turn that would end up as bleeped out words for the viewing public. Bob was quick to step in and let her know they were looking for a place more geographic than physiologic, but alas, it was too late. The audience, her husband, even Bob laughed as the show made a gigantic left turn and history was made. Care to see it? Here is the clip. For the impatient reader/viewer, the answer comes just after the 2 minute mark.

Hank and Olga must be in their 70's by now. I hope they are still married and if they are, I bet they still laugh about that one with the kids and grand-kids at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And speaking of laughing, I hope everyone has a great sense of humor, because I am going to let you in on a couple of secrets. First, the Newlywed Game is still being produced with host, Sheri Shepard. Second, my wife and I just spent the weekend in NYC and appeared as contestants on the show. And, third, what we ended up saying may not be as funny as what Hank and Olga had going on, but I assure you, we did our duty as Americans and embarrassed ourselves appropriately for the show with a series of left turns. I would like to say more, but we signed several documents where we agreed that if we say anything about the outcome or the production methods before the show airs, we'll end up so poor my kids won't be going to college.

I am not sure what effect the sordid details about my rather active sex life with my wife will do for my picture book manuscripts finding a publisher, but at this point, it couldn't hurt.