America's Funniest Home Videos delight and surprise
America's Funniest Home Videos is currently far and away the most popular program on television. Each week ABC soundly crushes the competition with this strange and low-budget concoction of odd pleasures.
For the uninitiated, the show is based on the video submissions of the audience. Each week, several categories of videos, recorded by the home camcorders of viewers, are played back along with an added soundtrack and ostensibly funny commentary by the host, Bob Saget.
The categories include videos of children, videos of (humorous) accidents, and prepared video satires. At the end of the show the studio audience votes on the best video of the week. The creator of that video is awarded $10,000.
Being the most popular show on television means that the show will be imitated, undoubtedly. NBC President Brandon Tartikoff has already joked at a press conference that he won't even discuss how many rip-offs of America's Home Videos he has already been shown.
To prepare the reader for the inevitable, here is a list of future home video-type shows being prepared for our airwaves.
O+ The MIT Campus Police's Funniest Home Videos: One of the officers arrives home to find that his young son has built a shanty out of legos in the middle of the kitchen. Hilarity (and gunplay) ensues.
O+ America's Schoolroom Home Videos: "No, Jenny, Sirhan Sirhan is not the name of Bon Jovi's opening band."
O+ Dan Quayle's Funniest Home Videos: He usually leaves the lens cap on, and he can never remember which is the "record" button and which is the "stop" button, but on the rare occasions when he gets it right, you'll be treated to an inside glimpse of the vice president's office, known as the Romper Room to close advisors.
O+ America's Scariest Home Videos: Sure, Daddy probably could've snatched Junior away before that oncoming train killed him, but hey, if nobody's holding the camera, you can't win the $10,000 prize.
O+ Bart Simpson's Funniest Home Videos: Yes, now you too can catch Homer and Marge in the act. The question is, do you really want to watch a repeat of the act that created Bart?
O+ Marla Maples' Oddest Home Videos: You can't see much, but you can hear a nasal male voice saying "Call me poor. . . . Make me beg for money. . . . FORECLOSE! FORECLOSE!" It's not for everyone.
O+ Mags Harries' Secret Home Videos: Garbled, but viewers will be able to make out the frightening line "And when I have all their hair, they will be mine!"
O+ Russia's Funniest Home Videos: The soundtrack talks about the advances of glasnost as you watch wacky images of people waiting for soap and meat.
O+ Harvard's Wittiest Home Videos: Mummy. Daddy. The Yacht. The Hamptons. The best damn codfishing in the world. To capture moments like these, it's worth hiring that cameraman.
O+ Miss Daisy's Most Private Home Videos: "Not only is he a fine driver, but he has just the nicest tush."
O+ The Funniest Home Videos of Practical Jokes Pulled on Paul Gray: As a retirement gag on Paul, his friends gather in his home one evening and produce forged "evidence" that he is gay. They then produce a forged Institute resolution saying that MIT presidents cannot be homosexuals and that he owes back salary since 1980. Just as Gray is near tears and about to reverse his stand on ROTC discrimination, they let him off the hook. What a gas.
O+ Deborah Norville's Truest Home Videos: Doesn't have a very good chance of getting on the air. All you see is Deborah looking in a mirror, chanting "I'm gonna get that b----'s job. . . . I'm gonna get that b----'s job. . . ." Looks a little old.
O+ The Boston Red Sox Home Videos: Giggle as prominent Sox drop household objects and have trouble throwing the garbage all the way to the curb.
O+ Nermal's Funniest Home Videos: Laugh along with Nick and Fub at Nermal's frustration as he realizes he's the only cartoon character in The Tech without hands (so he cannot masturbate).
O+ Mike Dukakis' Most Pathetic Home Videos: Booo-ring. We watch Mike attempt to balance his personal checking account and fail . . . and fail . . . and fail. . . .
O+ America's Cruelest Home Videos: "Here's a Milk-Bone, boy. Oh, it's just out of reach, isn't it, boy? Just barely out of reach. It's been a few days since you last ate, hasn't it, boy? Can't quite make your chain long enough to reach it, can you, boy?"
O+ Steve Garvey's Home Videos: "And that's Ralph and Amy and James and Susie and Tommy and Barbie and Steve Jr. and Debbie and Bob. Those are my children by that woman there. OK, now for my children by this next lady. This is Alex and. . . ."
What wonderful things we've been missing on TV while doing productive things with our lives.
Bill Jackson '93, a Tech columnist, has a growing fear that more people are reading the jokes in the biographical blurbs than the columns themselves.