Quote: What if the Hokey-Pokey really is what it's all about? (1998 February 21)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 4 16:10:35 UTC 2010

Wilson Gray posted an entertaining philosophical quip that he saw as a
graffito. The earliest instance of a version I have found so far is in
1998 in an article by sports writer Mike Bianchi.

Cite: 1998 February 21, Florida Times-Union, "Caray had Song in Heart"
by Mike Bianchi, Page C1, Jacksonville, Florida. (NewsBank)

And, finally, this troubling philosophical question: What if the
Hokey-Pokey really is what it's all about?

The phrase was repeated and labeled quotable in December of 1998.

Cite: 1998 December 16, Denver Post, "Spirit of Colorado Christmas
missing at KCNC" by Dick Kreck, Section 1A, Page A02, Denver,
Colorado. (NewsBank)

QUOTABLE: "What if the hokey-pokey really is what it's all about?"

There is a Jimmy Buffet song titled "What if the Hokey-Pokey Is All It
Really Is About?" on the album "Far Side of the World" which was
released in March of 2002 according to the sometimes accurate

Below are two earlier different comical riffs on the Hokey-Pokey
lyric. These versions express exasperation and are not humorously

Cite: 1993 January 22, The Virginian-Pilot, "Been Hurt in an Accident?
Pick an Ad" by Earl Swift, Page D1, Norfolk, Virginia. (NewsBank)

I hadn't dried off before Joel Bieber popped up on my car radio:
"Recently someone told me that I'm his nephew's lawyer," the lawyer
said. "He went on to say his nephew is only 3, but he goes around the
house singing, 'If you're hurt, call Joynes and Bieber.'

"That's what it's all about."

Normally, ads like this make me crazy. "That's what what is all
about?" I might scream. Or: "No, Joel, the Hokey-Pokey is what it's
all about."

Cite: 1996 April 10, Charleston Daily Mail, The Wrong People Get a Day
Off by L. T. Anderson, Page 1C, West Virginia (NewsBank)

Combining in a single sentence "impact" as a verb and the "what it's
all about" cliche is a feat that could be brought off only on
television, where "white stuff," for "snow," is thought to be clever.

Besides that, impacting people, whatever that means, ISN'T what it's
all about. Doing the Hokey-Pokey is what it's all about.

Apparently predecessor songs exist called the Hinkum-Booby and the
Okey-Cokey. The lyrics of the Okey-Cokey also state "And that's what
it's all about." Thus an existential crisis for those individuals
seeking transcendent guidance in song lyrics appears unavoidable.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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