The charge that Bob Hope was not funny is not a new one, and Christopher Hitchens doesn't bring any new evidence to it (in fact, several of the jokes he holds up for condemnation are pretty damn funny). Worse, his uncharacteristic bow to baby boomer sacred cows is rancid. Setting Hope off against Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl? Puh-leeze. Nick has the last word about Lenny Bruce around here, and the one really funny story I've heard from Mort Sahl isn't even believable: Two hours into a screening of Otto Preminger's Exodus, Sahl allegedly stood up in the theater and shouted, "Otto! Let my people go!" It's a funny story, but sounds suspiciously like esprit d'escalier rewritten as an on-the-spot witticism.
Anyway, Ben Schwartz wrote a great appreciation of Bob Hope, and more important of Hope's svengali Al Boasberg. In a blatant attempt to become the next Vincent Canby, he wrote it years ago, but failed to die in the meantime. Which is just as well; on the topic of comedy history, I trust Schwartz as I do my own left hand.