Go ahead. Call Salt Laker Dale Myrberg a throwback.
A Yo-Yo champion since he was in grade school, he's used to all the puns. In fact, there was a time in his teens when he wound up his string and put his Yo-Yos away. "Playing with a Yo-Yo wasn't the coolest thing to do at South High School," he recalls.But it's cool again, especially now that Tommy Smothers has been bringing his Yo-Yo Man routine into America's living rooms regularly for most of the past year. Myrberg and some of his fellow Yo-Yoing experts have joined in on the fun, evoking memories of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when traveling Yo-Yo men barnstormed the country with their arsenal of tricks and schticks.
Employed in Utah Power and Light's engineering department by day, Myrberg is once again a Yo-Yoing fool by night, entertaining at nursing homes, child care centers, schools and company parties all around the state. And this weekend he'll make another appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (Saturday at 8 p.m., Ch. 5), swapping stunts with Smothers on national TV.
"I feel like I'm right on top of the wave," Myrberg said. "The Yo-Yo is back, and I'm having a ball."
The fun started for the 47-year-old Myrberg about 42 years ago, when he picked up his first Yo-Yo. At age 10 he saw his first Yo-Yo competition and decided that maybe that was something he could do, since the typical sports that other little boys played didn't come easily to him.
By the time he was 15 he won his first state Yo-Yoing championship and turned pro, earning a dollar an hour to do stunts for the Duncan Yo-Yo people around the state. His audiences were amazed at some of the two-handed tricks he could do.
Then came high school and the start of a 15-year layoff from the sport. But his love of Yo-Yoing never died, and when he picked up a Yo-Yo again he was hooked - again.
"You really can be completely addicted to it," Myrberg said. "I think that's what Tommy means when he talks about `getting into the state of Yo.' Once you pick up a Yo-Yo you block everything else out and focus on what you're doing. The stress just melts off you as you go into this state of concentrated bliss. It's really terrific."
Since he has resumed his Yo-Yoing avocation Myrberg has built up an arsenal of more than 150 tricks, including two-handed stunts, Yo-Yoing and playing with a paddle ball at the same time and the dreaded Loop the Hoop - played with a crochet hoop. He has also become a Yo-Yo collector, owning more than 600 different Yo-Yos.
The shared Philosophy of Yo has also put Myrberg in contact with some of its other practicioners, notably Grand Ol' Opry star Roy Acuff (who often performs Yo-Yo tricks on stage) and Smothers (whom Myrberg describes as "a total nut" when it comes to Yo-Yoing). And he's dreaming about a possible guest shot on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" and a spot in a planned movie about Donald Duncan and the traveling Yo-Yo men.
But first he's got to deal with one hard reality: the Smothers Brothers have decided to stop making variety specials for CBS. They're going to return to their night club career while preparing a CBS sitcom for next fall, taking Yo-Yoing's national spotlight with them.
"But that's OK," Myrberg said. "We'll keep going. Yo-Yos will be around forever."
Spoken like a man who understands the Yo-Yo's . . . well, ups and downs.
- CONGRATULATIONS to KUTV Program Director Maria Smith, who was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE) in Houston recently. Way to go, Maria!
- HAVE YOU BEEN WONDERING what that Latin quotation on the Lonesome Dove sign - "Uva uvam vivendo varia fit" - means? Our TV Column Latin Specialist informs me that it roughly translates into something like this: "The cluster of grapes, through living, begets one grape." ABC sources indicate that "Lonesome Dove" author Larry McMurtry picked the phrase to indicate that this story was born out of the many Western stories that exist.