Bob Hope: The Machine-Age Comic

Bob Hope had breadth, not depth. It made him the right comedian for his time

He was a guy who basically did nothing but stand at a microphone and tell jokes. He was a wiseguy, a smart aleck, a comic minimalist in pursuit of the perfect gag, which, through a process of trial and error and full of genially sneering asides at the eggs he laid along the way, he often found.

But Bob Hope, who died last week at 100, was something else too: the voice of 20th century America at midpassage, the spokesman of our heedless, surface-skimming spirit, the comic for the age of the production line, churning out interchangeable, immediately disposable jokes...

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