Its almost Christmas. New Mandala readers looking to get into the spirit of the season will appreciate this hour and a half Bob Hope Christmas special. It follows the golf club-wielding comedian as he travels around mainland Southeast Asia in 1967 bringing festive cheer to American troops. It provides an unusual taste of how the region looked during the war in Indochina.

The video begins with Bob Hope in Thailand, in Ubon Ratchathani in fact, cracking jokes about a range of local topics, including the Thai king. The crowd loves it.

Later there are some amazing scenes of thousands of Marines at Danang. In one show, a soldier is called up on stage to kiss the “prettiest girl” in Bob Hope’s troop so he can “remember what you’re fighting for”. The jokes are mixed up with all manner of anti-Communist put-downs, flirty singing and dancing, non-PC observations, and general military banter. It won’t be to everyone’s liking but I sense that the average New Mandala reader will find it eye-opening.

Thanks to Political Prisoners in Thailand for drawing this fascinating history to my attention.

Update: New Mandala reader wanting to learn more about the Bob Hope shows will find these links useful (all with great pictures).