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A BOB HOPE COMEDY WRITER TAKES ON MARRIAGE

Interview by Mike Nappa
NappaLand, 2001

Being funny is hard work. Don’t believe it? Just ask humorist/author Martha Bolton! This Emmy-nominated talent has sweated through many years as a comedy writer for Bob Hope, as well as working up comedy routines for other celebrities like Phyllis Diller, Mark Lowry, Ann Jillian, and more.

As if that didn’t take up enough of her time, Martha’s also written over 43 books. Her latest chuckle-fest is STILL THE ONE, a fun-filled look at the life (and laughs) of being married in America. Says Martha, "I’d go to the end of the world for my husband. Of course, if he’d just stop and ask directions, I wouldn’t have to!"

Recently, Martha was kind enough to take a break in her busy schedule to chat with us at Nappaland.com. Care to listen in?…


Mike Nappa (MN): Let’s start off by talking about your work as a writer for Bob Hope. What can you tell us about working with this comedy legend?

Martha Bolton (MB): It’s been an incredible learning ground for writing comedy. As you know, Bob Hope is a topical comedian. Whenever anything happened in the news, he’d immediately get on the phone and ask us to write jokes about it. Often this was just before he would walk onto the stage. You could hear the "Thanks for the Memory" theme playing in the background and you knew you only had a few moments to come up with a line!

MN: What do you like best about working for Bob?

MB: The best thing about writing for Bob Hope is how he treats his writers. He’s been the best boss anyone could ever have. In all the years I’ve written for him (over 15), he’s never said an unkind word to me. Bob is the same person privately as who you see on the screen.

MN: What’s the worst thing about writing for Bob Hope?

MB: The late night phone calls! Bob called a writer well after midnight once and the writer’s wife answered the phone. Bob asked if her husband was there, but when she looked at him sleeping so soundly, she felt sorry for him and told Bob, "No. I thought he was with you." There was an uncomfortable pause, then quick-thinking Bob said, "Oh, yeah, here he comes now."

MN: Tell us about your new book STILL THE ONE? What prompted you to write this one?

MB: STILL THE ONE is a sequel to I LOVE YOU...STILL. Both devotionals take a humorous look at marriage. Anyone who thinks marriage is going to be perfect is probably still at their reception! Anytime you put two---often two totally opposite people---together in the same living space, there’s bound to be a few rough spots. But just as an aircraft is built to handle both smooth and unstable air, marriage is built to handle all kinds of weather, too. Naturally, we’d all like to fly in clear skies one hundred percent of the time, but that’s not reality. So how do we handle those pockets of unexpected turbulence? By putting our trust in God and by adding more laughter to our lives.

MN: Why do you suppose laughter is so important?

MB: God created us with the ability to laugh. He gave us the equipment. He must have realized its importance in life and in our relationships. Too often in marriage, we cherish the good times, and with God’s help, get through the tough times; but it’s all those other times that drive so many couples apart. These devotionals take a look at the little irritations of day-to-day married life and, hopefully, get us to laugh about them again.

MN: What can our readers expect to find in STILL THE ONE and I LOVE YOU…STILL?

MB: From splitting up the daily chores to getting rid of clutter to shopping to miscommunication to the thermostat wars, I’ve tried to cover it all. Each book contains 60 short devotionals, which begin with a scripture reference and are followed by "A Date To Communicate" (two very easy questions that the couple answers together), and a quote about marriage. In the back of the book, there are coupons for the couple to use and another "Getting To Know You" section.

MN: What kind of research and preparation went into these books?

MB: I’ve been married 30 years; my parents were married 50 years, and all but one of my uncles and aunts made it to 50 years of marriage and beyond. I know this idea of commitment can work. I also learned in talking with married couples from different parts of the country, from newlyweds to those married 30, 40, even 60 years, that laughter plays a key role in a lasting marriage.

MN: What do you hope people will gain from STILL THE ONE?

MB: I hope readers will realize that life is too short to carry around old hurts and disappointments. "And another thing" isn’t something you hear very often in an ICU ward. In the book I tell of one husband who made it a habit to tell his wife he loved her just before they both drifted off to sleep each night. In case something were to happen to him, he wanted those to be the last words she would remember. Think about some of the last words you’ve spoken to your spouse at night. Some of mine would be: "You gonna hog all the blankets again?" "Did you remember to pay the MasterCard bill?" "The faucet’s still dripping. I thought you fixed that thing."

I think that man had the right idea. "I love you" is much more memorable.

I also hope this book reminds couples why it is they fell in love with their spouse in the first place, and gets them to remember all the good memories they’ve already made together and all the new ones that are waiting to be made.

MN: Any last thoughts you’d like share with us?

MB:

L - let go of those old hurts and disappointments

O - overlook those irritations and learn to laugh about them

V - vows, remember what they mean

E - enjoy your marriage!

Copyright 2001-2005 Martha Bolton. All rights reserved.09/24/12 09:36 AM
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