Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dig: America's Funniest Videos

What a concept: Put out the word out to the American public that you want to make an entire TV show out of their home videos. Genius! Everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame, right? Even better if I'm the producer of my own little film! After collecting countless hours of video from countless family gatherings, and stupid pet/human tricks, I'd be glad to send it straight to your living room so you can share in my glee! I'm sure you'll enjoy movies of my grandma's bridge tournament as much as I do!

So what does it take to produce such a great addition to American culture? As it turns out, not a whole lot. Get a B-List (C-List?) host, a set with lots of "video" related items (monitors, "film" on the wall, old TV sets), an audience of 100 nice folks visiting Hollywood on their summer vacation and a check for $10k and you're good to go. When Friends was on the air, each cast member was getting like a zillion dollars per episode or something like that and there were multiple sets, so each episode cost a good chunk of money to put together. How much can AFV cost? Including the $10,000 for the winner, the budget has to be about $10,005.78 per episode. And most of that comes from the extra garbage cans they had to buy to throw away those big old bulky VHS tapes! The version of the show with Daisy Fuentes might cost slightly more for her outfits but I would argue that getting Daisy into a slinky little number to introduce the next video of Uncle Bob splitting his pants while bowling is worth it.

So while we're comparing this stroke of genius to Friends, I gotta tell you that I laugh out loud a lot more at a little kid hitting his mom in the head with a stick when he misses the birthday pinata than when Joey makes yet another inane comment about his next audition. I've heard actors and writers say that a comedy is much harder to produce than a drama. And certainly, a lot of it depends on the delivery. If you tried to write a script for the little kid to hit the candy-filled donkey twice and on the third time whack his mom in the head, it just wouldn't work. But when Junior is swinging for the fences (or the Jolly Ranchers) and clocks mom in her melon, you can't fake the humor when mom drops like a ton of bricks and Skippy goes back to the pinata for the candy. You just can't write comedy like that! The only thing that Friends has over AFV is the babes - unless the now-unconscious mom happens to be a hottie but that's rarely the case.

Sorry to throw another list at you, but allow me to expand a little on some of my fave types of videos that are presented on the show:

Guy Getting Hit in the Nuts: You can't go wrong with this one, folks! And there are so many variations. You got your basic "dad teaching kid how to hit a baseball and the kid hits one back to dad right in the nuts", the ever-popular "dad wresting kid on the living room floor and kid kicks dad in the nuts" and of course, the "golf/billiards/softball game with ball somehow hitting guy in nuts". The reaction is always the same, though: guy drops everything that he is doing, grabs his nuts and drops to the ground. Every guy in the audience winces and does a sympathy nut-grab but they're all laughing because it ain't them that feels like their stomach is bing pulled out sideways. Now that's rich! If there was an All Guy-Getting-Hit-In-The-Nuts channel, I'd pay $9.95 a month for it! AFV is good at stringing together about 20 of these videos together and setting it to music, often Yakkity-Sax (you know, the theme to Benny Hill). Funny saxophone music and crotch shots? That's pure gold!

Cool Sporting Feats: These have quite a range to them. Anything from buzzer-beating half-court shot to a multiple-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown (a la Cal vs. Stanford) to a dragster bursting into flames as it races down the track. Those things are just sweet and the reason I dig them is because they don't happen all the time. Yet, for some reason, somebody had their nifty little Sony out and captured the whole thing on video for me to enjoy in the comfort of my living room. Ever see the clip of the homerun ball that hits a dude right on his head as he is riding by on his bike? What's up with that?! That's your basic bad luck, people - thanks for sharing!. How about all those nut-jobs doing crazy stunts on their motorcycles a million feet up in the air? That's messed up - yet so cool! Lastly, two more words for you: Joe Theisman. How many times have you seen that nasty clip of his leg getting bent the wrong way? It's so nasty and yet if it were to come on in the middle of whatever TV show you are glued to, you know damn well you'd watch it. Joe would totally have won the ten grand on AFV if he had submitted the tape.

Wedding Videos: I'm not talking about the videos where everything goes right. I'm talking about the ones where the groom passes out at the altar. Or the ones where the mother of the bride leans over to light a candle and her hair catches on fire. And who can resist the bridesmaid who gets all boozed up and gets all out of control on the dance floor and ends up wiping out with her light blue prom/bridesmaid dress over her head! This is quality entertainment at its finest! Sorry that you spent a million dollars at your wedding and the only thing that people remember from it is the divorcee' throwing elbows to catch the bouquet! Even better, it's all on video! On a recent episode of AFV, the bride forgot that she was wearing a microphone and leaned over to the poor sap who was marrying her and announced that she wasn't wearing underwear. Underwear itself is funny. Letting the world know on your wedding day that you're going commando is a riot!

Wipe-Outs of One Type or Another: Guy makes birthday cake. Guy lights all 68 candles on cake. Guy steps on cat. Guy falls face first into cake catching hair on fire. Kid puts out fire with with pitcher of Kool-Aid. How is that NOT funny! Give that man $10,000!

OK, so maybe it ain't Shakespeare. It probably ain't even Aaron Spelling (of Melrose Place fame). And I certainly won't comment on the hosts (except to further stress the hotness of Daisy Fuentes). But you want to make me laugh? Forget about Chandler Bing. Give me a fat guy (fat guys are always funny) doing bellyflops in his above-ground pool causing the sides to collapse flooding his kid's birthday party! Now THAT'S funny!