"That'd Be the Butt, Bob"

A fairly true urban legend

Bob Eubanks, host of The Newlywed Game
Bob Eubanks, host of "The Newlywed Game". Michael Ochs Archives/Moviepix/Getty Images

Submitted by a reader...

During a taping of The Newlywed Game, a popular '70s TV show in which recently married couples tried to predict how their spouses would answer personal questions, host Bob Eubanks asked a female contestant how her husband would respond to the following:

"Where's the most unusual place you've ever made whoopee?"

She answered: "That'd be the butt, Bob."

Analysis: This is a story which, for many years, was thought to be completely false, not least because one of the sources best placed to confirm or deny its accuracy, Newlywed Game host Bob Eubanks, repeatedly and strenuously denied it.

This was his response, for example, when asked about it in 1997 by Entertainment Weekly:

It never happened. No matter where I go, it’s mentioned three or four times a day. Everybody swears they saw it. I’m going to write a book and call it That Would Be in the Book, Bob.

At one point Eubanks even offered $10,000 to anyone who could prove that the incident took place. No one was more surprised than he when proof did finally surface that it had. A 1977 episode of the show rebroadcast by the Game Show Network in 1999 contained this exchange between Eubanks and a newlywed couple named Henry and Olga:

Bob: Here's the last of our five-point questions. Girls, tell me where, specifically, is the weirdest place that you personally, girls, have ever gotten the urge to make whoopee. The weirdest place, Olga?

Olga: Um... (audience laughter)

Bob: Yes, Olga?

Olga: Uh...

Henry: Go ahead.

Bob: Yes, Olga.

Olga: I'm trying to think. Um... Gee, Henry, what did you say?

Bob: Hey, don't ask him. He can't help you out at all.

Olga: Is it in the ass? [Last three words bleeped]

Bob: No, no, no... No... What I'm talking about is the weirdest location, the weirdest place...

Olga: The weirdest location. I don't know.

The video clip received its widest viewing in 2002 when it was aired on an NBC special called The Most Outrageous Game Show Moments. After that, Eubanks was no longer in denial. This is what he wrote in his memoir entitled It's in the Book, Bob! in 2004:

One particular episode on the show that was alleged to have occurred -- or did occur -- has spawned nothing short of an urban legend. It even inspired the title of this book. I am, of course, referring to the famous (or infamous) "In The Butt" incident. Did it happen? And if so, exactly what happened? I sincerely told people for many years that it never happened. Then someone showed me a clip and proved me wrong. It did happen, but not precisely the way mythology and collective memory have it happening.

Why it's an urban legend, though mostly true

Eubanks' emphasis on the point that it didn't happen precisely the way people had said it did wasn't mere quibbling. Though based on a real incident, the story had taken on a life of its own and didn't entirely line up with the facts. Variation is one of the defining characteristics of an urban legend. It wasn't just the dialogue that varied — one of the most commonly shared versions of the story before the video clip came to light portrayed the newlywed couple as African American, and the famous line, "That'd be the butt, Bob," was quite often attributed to the husband, not the wife.

To demonstrate just how far afield a true story can go once it's divorced from its origin, here's a variant I received years ago from a reader in England:

A newlywed couple in England were at their reception, where the DJ was playing Mr & Mrs. If you're not in the know, Mr and Mrs was a British TV game where one partner was asked questions about the other whilst they were out of earshot, and then the question was repeated to see if their answers matched.

The DJ was asking the groom all sorts of questions such as "Which side of the bed does she sleep?" and "What's her most disgusting habit?" when he came to the final question: "Where's the strangest place you've ever had sex?"

The groom started by laughingly replying that he had no intention of answering, until eventually, egged on by the baying audience, he replied:

"In the back of my car."

A huge roar of approval went up as the bride was led back into the room, to give her replies to the questions. The DJ went through all the questions again until finally he got to the last: "Where's the strangest place you've ever had sex?"

The bride started shaking her head and muttering "No way" as the crowd began to bay for a reply. Even the grannies and the old aunts were getting involved, pleading for the answer. Eventually the groom came over and gently took her by the arm saying "It's okay, honey, I told them."

"You're sure?" she asked, nervously.

"Of course, darling, I'm sure," he replied.

"Okay," she said. "If you're sure."

Then slowly, holding the microphone close to her chest, the bride announced to all their assembled relatives and friends:

"Up the bottom."

Further reading:

Game Show Gaffes: The Top 8 Greatest Blunders in TV History
NY Daily News, 3 April 2015