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Friday, June 01, 2012

America's Funniest Videos...Behind The Lens Cap

Welcome to the first day of June, everyone!  You know something?  2012 is going incredibly fast!  We’re just a month away from the halfway point of this year.  I guess it’s true what adults say.  Time flows quicker as you get older.

Fortunately, I am only adult in size.

Looking back on the month of May, I’ve definitely had a lot of ups and downs.  I turned 31, I kicked off a contest (which is still open until the end of this month, by the way), and I wrote some of my most heartfelt entries to date (or, so I’d like to think, anyway).

On the downside, I’ve had a bit of a struggle bringing traffic to the site this month, particularly due to the fact that I can no longer use Facebook directly to promote my work (at least, not without some ingenuity on my part anyway).  But, with a brand new look for the blog, and a new month on the horizon, I think that I’ll survive anything thrown my way.

It’s all about staying focused and staying positive about everything that happens.  It’s so easy to fall into the pit of negativity, and it’s so easy to get in a bad mood when things get out of your control, or when the people closest to you are determined to spread their negativity.  So, for the first entry of June, I’m going to post a blog entry about a show that has made people laugh for over two decades.  After all, laughter IS the best medicine for bad moods.

Or, so Reader’s Digest always told me.

So, how many of you out there have a video camera in your home?  I imagine most of you probably do.  Heck, about 99% of all mobile phones made these days have a built in video camera inside of them. 

But, how many of you had them in the 1980s?

You know the ones I mean?  The big and bulky black cameras, where you had to record by using a big, bulky VHS tape?  My family never owned one because back in those days, video cameras were quite expensive.  Could you imagine paying $400 for a video camera these days?  It seems bizarre...until you realize that VCR’s cost at least half that price alone.  I even remember when DVD players were first released, and the asking price was $500 in 1999.  Now, you can find DVD players for as little as $25!

Growing up, I remember going to various events where people often had video cameras filming everything that went on.  Weddings, school carnivals, family picnics, funera...well, okay, maybe scratch that last one. 

And I’m sure that we all have been witness to watching an old family home video and seeing something happen on the tape that just made everybody laugh out loud.  Something like...these clips for example.

Now, I imagine that in the days in which video cameras first started appearing in households, people never imagined that their video of Grandpa losing his dentures biting into a candied apple would net them a huge cash prize.

That is until a man by the name of Vin de Bona decided to come up with an idea for a show, which was inspired by a Japanese program that was airing at the time.

That show was a program known as “Fun TV with Kato-chan and Ken-chan”.  On that particular show, there was a segment that had home viewers sending in video clips from their collection of home movies.  The concept was a simple one, but de Bona believed that he could create a television show from this idea.  Teaming up with Todd Thicke and Michele Nasraway, de Bona developed a show where people from all over the United States and Canada could send their funny videos in, and the winning video would win a cash prize.

Beginning in the summer of 1989, de Bona took out advertising space in TV Guide magazine, asking people to send in their funniest home videos to a specific address within the ABC Television Network.  The program was supposed to be a one-off television special, airing on November 26, 1989.  But to everyone’s surprise, the show ranked #9 in the Nielsen ratings scale for that night.  This huge reaction caused ABC to take the special and air it as a half-hour television program.  The show began airing as a regular television series on January 14, 1990, and as of 2012, has now finished its twenty-second season, and is renewed for a twenty-third!

That show is America’s Funniest Videos (previously known as America’s Funniest Home Videos). 

Now, the show itself has some interesting history behind it, and I thought that I would best explain the history of the show in a bullet point list, peppering it along the way with examples of some of the videos that the show has aired over its 23-year-history.  There’s been some host changes, lots of prize money given away, and believe it or not, the show was almost cancelled!  There is a lot to talk about, so let’s get started.

1 – The first episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos aired as an hour-long special.  In addition to Bob Saget hosting the show, he had a guest co-host, Kellie Martin.  At the time, Martin was starring in the ABC show “Life Goes On”, which aired directly before the program.

2 – The grand prize for America’s Funniest Home Videos has changed slightly since it debuted.  The first prize winner of the show’s pilot won $5,000, while the second and third place winners would take home a brand new television and video camera.  As the show went on, the prize increased to $10,000 for the first prize video, $3,000 for second, and $2,000 for third.  All the winning videos of the season would come back on the show to compete for the $100,000 grand prize at the end of the season.

3 – Would you like to know what the very first grand prize winning video was on America’s Funniest Home Videos was?  Have a look.

4 – The show’s success and relatively low cost to produce have spawned versions in other countries, including the UK, Australia, and Canada (well, Quebec, Canada, anyway).

5 – The show spawned a couple of spin-off programs that also aired on ABC.  “America’s Funniest People” aired on the network from 1990-1994, and “World’s Funniest Videos” aired during 1996.  Strangely enough, both shows had Saget’s “Full House” co-star Dave Coulier as one of the co-hosts.

6 – The show changed hosts three times during its entire run.  Bob Saget was the programs original host from the beginning of the series to May 1997.  In 1998, the show was hosted by the duo of Daisy Fuentes and John Fugelsang, but they only managed to last a couple of years.  Finally, in the summer of 2001, Tom Bergeron assumed hosting duties, the longest-serving host of America’s Funniest Home Videos thus far.

7 – In 1999, after the departure of Fugelsang and Fuentes as hosts, ABC considered pulling the plug on the program.  It was decided that the show would air sporadic specials throughout 2000 hosted by then ABC sitcom stars Richard Kind and D.L. Hughley.  The show returned as a weekly series in 2001.

8 – At one point during the show’s hiatus as a weekly program from 1999-2001, future “The Office” star Steve Carell would host a one-off special entitled “America’s Funniest Home Videos: Deluxe Uncensored”.

9 – At the end of each episode during Saget’s tenure, he would utter the catchphrase “Keep those cameras safely rolling!”.

10 – The “Assignment America” segment, a segment which asked viewers to send in videos surrounding a specific theme such as weddings, trampolines, and sports disasters, was born midway through season one, and is the only feature that has remained constant throughout the show’s entire run.

11 – America’s Funniest Home Videos expanded into an hour-long program in 1995, following the cancellation of the short-lived ABC sitcom “On Our Own”.

12 – Bob Saget left the program in May 1997, but had expressed desire to leave the show at least two seasons prior.  But because de Bona reminded him that he still had time left on his contract, Saget would often act out of character during his final few seasons, and made lots of blunt puns in relation to his contract negotiations.

13 – When Saget hosted his final show in May 1997, it doubled as a “Full House” reunion (the show aired its last episode in 1995).  With the exception of the Olsen Twins, the entire cast dropped by the soundstage to help Bob Saget say goodbye to America’s Funniest Home Videos.

14 – Bob Saget would return to co-host America’s Funniest Home Videos with Tom Bergeron in 2009, to help ring in the show’s 20th anniversary episode.

15 – America’s Funniest Home Videos also changed its show announcer three times.  The first one was Ernie Anderson, who served as announcer from 1989-1995 (he returned briefly in 1997 just before he passed away).  Gary Owens became the announcer in 1995 and stayed until the end of Saget’s tenure as host.  From 1998 onwards, the position has been filled by Jess Harnell.  And for those of you who are into voice acting credits, you may be surprised to know that Harnell voiced the character of Wakko in the cartoon “Animaniacs”.

16 – The winners of each episode were chosen by the studio audience.  They would press the button that corresponded with the finalist they liked best.  The video with the most votes won.

17 – The voting has undergone some changes over the years, particularly during the $100,000 shows.  Initially, the voting process incorporated anywhere from two to five ABC affiliates all across the country, where audiences were joined via satellite with Los Angeles to cast their votes simultaneously.  These days, viewers can now vote from home, using the ABC website.

18 – As of 2008, viewers can now upload their videos from camera phones and digital cameras onto the ABC website itself, in addition to sending in VHS tapes and DVD’s.

19 – The show has aired over 450 episodes during its entire run.

20 – The show’s original theme song was recorded by Jill Colucci.  It ran during the show’s first seven seasons on air, and once more during Saget’s 2009 guest appearance.  To conclude this blog entry, why not have a listen?


  1. I think Entertainment is best way to enable you to forget all your issues or problems. Best Funny Videos is the most common example to make you smile...

    funniest videos

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  4. This is really good! :) I like it. Plus, from my perspective, the pilot episode from America’s Funniest Home Videos is one of the best, as well as very neat and inspiring too. mostly because of the video with a kid named Lake Fletcher, Jr. performing the 12” Heart Version of the song Dial My Heart by The Boys. He was three years old at the time. He then did a live performance of the song for the studio audience, and did an awesome job. :)