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'Newlywed' host Eubanks still making 'whoopee'

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Bob Eubanks spent more than two decades pitting newlyweds against each other and revealing their funniest — and most intimate — “whoopee” sessions on “The Newlywed Game.” But the five-time Emmy Award-winning television host bristles when asked how he and the Mrs. would fare on the show.

“I would never put myself or my wife in that position,” he says with a laugh.

Though he fondly remembers couples who did.

Like the couple who both correctly answered the question: “Tell me one thing your husband told you not to talk about today.” Their answer: We're “going to kill my uncle for insurance money.”

Eubanks says even the off-stage drama was entertaining. “One attorney wrote me to say she saw her husband on the show and he wasn't with his wife,” he says. “Some people are crazy.”

It was Eubanks' ability to ask couples titillating questions without ever seeming to go all the way that endeared him to millions.

“We used to say, 'Never take the teddy off the girl,'” he says. “The moment you do, you have no place to go but get dirty. The couples can get a little off color, but if the question is off color it's bad. We never said anything dirty, and it was absolutely hilarious.”

Even his trademark euphemism for making love, “whoopee,” helped keep things G-rated.

“I didn't think parents should have to explain making love to their kids until they're ready,” he says. “Making whoopee sounds funny, and it could mean you're having a party.”

More than 40 years after “The Newlywed Game” debuted on national television, Eubanks will again put couples to the test with his latest incarnation, “The Not So Newlywed Game,” coming to the Lakeland Center and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.

Audience members can expect to hear “whoopee” along with Eubanks' time-tested questions.

But unlike the original “Newlywed Game,” the stage version gives all married couples a chance to compete — whether they're been married seven days or 70 years. Eubanks will choose couples in the audience at random. The show also will feature some of Eubanks' favorite clips and contestants from the television show and his television career.

And at the end of the show, one of the couples will get a chance to win $100,000.

“Every married couple has an equal chance to be a contestant and win the money,” Eubanks says by telephone from his home near Santa Barbara, Calif. “No one is preselected. And frankly, I think really longtime married couples are funnier than those who are newly married.”

Eubanks says at its core, “The Newlywed Game” is a comedy with a game component. What makes it work is finding the right couples, which isn't hard to do.

“People in general like to be funny,” says Eubanks, who is at work on a children's soccer movie called “The Good, the Bad and the Goalie.”

“Whether they're shy or outgoing, all kinds of people can be funny in the right situation. God gave me the ability to extract humor, and I am so blessed to be able to do that.”

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