Friday, October 2, 2009

America's Funniest Home Videos


I don't know about you, but I consider myself to have a sophisticated sense of humor. A refined sharp ear for only the cleverest of jokes. A real discerning ability to enjoy the most elite brand of drollery.

But I still think it's funny to see a guy get hit in the nuts with a baseball.

What can I say? It's somewhere in our human nature to find others' unanticipated moments of undeserved physical pain to be wildly funny. Some of us may try to hide our amusement at such juvenile antics, but when it comes down to it it's these little incidences of comical injury that really tie us together in this human tapestry of life. Or something like that.

Plus, when they punctuate it with some sort of farcical "boing!" or "splat!" sound effect, it definitely hits home. Well actually, it misses home and his that guy at third base squarely in the swimsuit area, but that's really not the point. The point is that it makes us laugh, regardless of whether or not that guy can someday be the father of future children.

From its roots as a primitive one-hour special in 1989, the original version was hosted by Full House's Bob Saget. Sure, the material and inter-video skits were incredibly cheesy, but they were usually pretty funny, too. We had our catchy 90s theme song followed by a short Bob Saget monologue and then all the sidesplitting videos we could take. Complete with narration and Saget's funny voices, no less. Childish? Yes. Were we children? Yes. A perfect fit.



Aside from the video debauchery there were also a number of running scripted gags of the incredibly cheesy, family-friendly variety. For any of you remotely familiar with Bob Saget's personal stand-up material, it's safe to say this is in an entirely different realm of content. There was a running bit in which an off-screen and thus unseen producer would hand things to Bob as if like magic, and he'd make marginally humorous comments to him like, "Glad to see that rash is clearing up." And that was the good stuff.

Despite the corniness of it all, the show was very entertaining and became a runaway hit. It didn't hurt that there were exorbitantly excessive cash prizes offered to winners as well. Weekly winners were awarded a whopping $10,000 and were granted entrance to the $100,000 contest at the end of the season. All in all, not a bad deal for catching your cat walking on his hindlegs with a cardboard box on his head.

While the content of the videos varied, they could typically be broken down into some neatly defined categories:



The Babies



Children can be amusing, I'll give you that. Never mind that it's borderline exploitative to videotape your kids doing something funny in an effort to score some cold hard cash, people were rushing for their camcorders at every hiccup. Nowadays YouTube is flooded with this stuff, but in the earlier days of video recording it was more of a contained practice. Nothing quite like profiting from your child's embarrassing behavior. Just remember to hide the DVD release evidence now that the kids are grown--I can't imagine they'd be too pleased about their incredibly public bathtime vid.



The Disruption of a Major Life Event




Yes, it can be pretty funny when a major life event (wedding, bar mitzvah, baptism, graduation) goes awry, but I can't imagine those people whose $1000 wedding cake was toppled over by a renegade cyclist feel the same way. Unless they won the $10,000 prize off of it. Then I'm sure they're more than willing to let things go.



The Animals



Animals do the darndest things. Mind you, this was ages before Lolcatz and Cute Overload and all that (animal-themed) jazz. At the very least these people had something to show for being chased by an ornery, human-hungry ostrich. Besides the resultant scars and emotional trauma, I mean.



The Injury Ward



Also known as "Guy Gets Hit in Nuts With Baseball Bat", injuries were pretty common AFV fare. Laugh at others' misfortune? Don't mind if I do.



The Prank (aka the Set-Up)




Speaking of cheap tricks, The Set-Up was probably the cheapest. Once word got out you could make a cool ten grand for a funny video, people everywhere began manufacturing their own humorous situations. If it seemed a little like unfair play, that's only because it was. Sure, it may have made us chuckle to see them scare the pants off of grandma with some remote control toy, but it just wasn't the same as if they'd earned their candid moment like everyone else.


The departure of Bob Saget of course did not mark the end of the show. Later incarnations starred John Fugelsang and Daisy Fuentes (1998-2001) and Tom Bergeron (2001-present) of Dancing with the Stars fame. Somehow, though, it just isn't quite the same. Maybe we're older. Maybe we're wiser. Or maybe, just maybe, our loyalty Bob Saget's clean fun-for-the-whole-family humor just won't allow us to be won over by some sub par replacement host.

Then again, maybe it's all those viral videos out there. Tough to say.

24 comments:

Cee said...

My parents actually submitted a video to Americas Funniest Home Videos...sadly it didn't get picked, but I always dreamed that it would so we could be one of the families in the audiance.

Ice Queen said...

I forgot how much I loved that song. I always wanted Bob Saget to be my dad...or maybe more Danny Tanner.

Badass Geek said...

We used to watch this show as a family when I was growing up. Although, my parents always sent us to bed before "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" came on the air.

Apparently it was to racey.

Warren said...

I still watch this regularly on ABC Family. I always think of the expression that "comedy is tragedy plus time" while watching. A lot of those things are definitely not funny in the moment.

Melanie's Randomness said...

Yes!! I always watched this show! The wedding ones are my absolute fav!! =) Have a good weekend!!!

Melissa said...

"America, America... this is you!"

I loooveeeee Funniest Home Videos! Growing up, I was obsessed with home movies. When I wasn't watching the hours and hours of my own, I loved watching other people's so this was a must-watch for my family. Every week I'd look so forward to the new episode, and would watch it on reruns when there was nothing else on.

We still watch it almost every Sunday and I still love it!

Randi Troxell said...

i loved it then... and still to this day we still watch reruns..

have a great wkend!

Freck said...

Aw man, I loved that show. Who couldn't love creepy Bob Saget? I don't dig the new version as much...
I think my favorite AFHV are when people slip on ice, which makes me kind of a sick person because when you bite it on ice, that REALLY hurts...sorry, it's funny though.

Hanako66 said...

when it first started, it was AMAZING!

but i also love everything bob saget

Martinis or Diaper Genies? said...

can I tell you what's even funnier? Attending a brownie party...yes it's what you think it is, and then watching this show. Amazing.

Lil' Woman said...

I love that show, I watch it from time to time but it's not the same as before!

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

my favs are the animals and the babies.

Lauren Kelly said...

I love your blog, the topics you bring up, bring back so many memories, haha!!!! :)

Annie said...

my family still watches AFV every sunday!!
the new one of course but it's still just as funny and corny as the one from the 90's :)

for the love of pictures said...

Yea, more Bob Sagat :) I still watch this show every now and then in reruns :)

Torie Jayne said...

I am still laughing, thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend!x

JennyMac said...

I remember this show...and while I could barely stomach Bob Saget, I did think it was a riot when it first came out. These videos are so funny...epitome of why I liked it back in the day.

Maggi said...

I love this show and Saget was by far my favorite host!

Mr. Condescending said...

I loved the roast of bob saget!

sarah said...

oh lord!!!!!!! so nostalgic!!
bob saget!

Shop Girl* said...

This just made my entire day.

I LOVED AFV. LOVED. And you're right--it died for me after Bob left. *tears*

Emily said...

This show just started its 20th season. I remember my mom asking us if we wanted to watch the very first episode. Yep, I'm old. :)

Sebastien said...

I'm convinced that the entire AFHV culture just transferred to Youtube. The new show with Tom Bergeron just doesn't cut it. Then again, Youtube doesn't give you prize money for winning (but it can get you on Oprah like "The Evolution of Dance" guy).

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