What’d you expect from a studio audience?


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Remember when “America’s Funniest Home Videos” was a sensational new show? It can be very telling to go back through older Arlo & Janis strips and unexpectedly be exposed to enormous, if sometimes puerile, shifts that occur in our culture. Cameras that recorded action on VHS tape were becoming common in homes in the early 90s. They were expensive and bulky and obtrusive, but the YouTube genie was out of the bottle. We just didn’t know it yet. I’m not even going to waste my time or yours trying to enumerate the differences in home videography then and now. (Contestants had to send in a video cassette by mail!) I just wanted to invite you to recall what a big splash that silly now-shop-worn program made on television. We should have known it was going to lead to something huge. And they never picked the funniest video to win.

38 thoughts on “What’d you expect from a studio audience?

  1. Friends in South Alabama report near historic rainfall and flooding in the area overnight. The Intercoastal Waterway left its banks between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Alabama. I-10 was closed at the AL-FL state line overnight. Widespread home flooding, road closures due to high water, and water rescues from Mobile to Pensacola. One person drowned in the Pensacola area when she drove into flood waters that submerged her car. This was from hurricane-class rainfall totals, people.

    Actually, more rain than fell in all Hurricane Ivan, I read. — JJ

  2. Rick: /“A History of God,” by Karen Armstrong: Don’t think I’ve seen that one. I’ve read at least one of her books, about Islam, and found it informative, with some tendency to whitewash.

    Have also seen/heard her on various talking-head videos: seems very tense, a difficult person to watch.

  3. It’s always been one of my favourite shows. Still is. I had other favourite shows on my list but none had the staying power of “Funniest …
    Survivor, American Idol, Amazing Race, and Glee have come and gone from my Favourites List. Seinfeld was and continues to be (as reruns) on my list. Modern Family(new and reruns) is a new addition which I discovered when I got an upgraded cable package last year. Sports has no place in my viewing time. I still get a big charge out of The Big bang Theory. Also I regularly tune into the first 10 minutes of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. I avoid watching stuff on the Internet with the exception of any videos in YouTube brought to my attention. I also watch news regularly, too much sometimes. But I don’t consider myself a couch potato, I am(retired) and out of the house early most mornings at the gym and serving as a volunteer later in the morning.

  4. I watch weird old stuff on youtube, like Ford in-house training promotional films for Edsel or a Buick sales training film with George C Scott as a customer, or “Twenty Years an Esso Dealer”. Recently to relive some childhood I’ve watched entire episodes of Cannon and Bracken’s World. I’ve found street scenes of downtown Houston from the 1920’s, and if I start loking at clips of music I like, everything from Dusty Springfield to Danny and the Juniors, I can stay glued all day

  5. Interesting that Jimmy can spot trends in their infancy. Someone might want to start an A&J mutual fund, investment criteria being if JJ parodies it, invest in it. We can get a daily chuckle and a long term dividend.

  6. Good morning, Villagers. Sorry about the S. Alabama flooding, we used to go down to Pensacola every summer, so I know that area well. We used to stay at Navarre Beach, but it pretty much got wiped out in a couple of hurricanes. Cured me from ever wanting beach property!

  7. In MN, SD, ND, and Manitoba, there’s lots of beach property guaranteed hurricane-free, on the shores of Lake Aggasiz.

  8. My family has a long tradition of watching America’s Funniest Videos every Sunday evening. It’s one of only a small handful of shows that will get our teenage daughter off her computer and spending time with the ‘rents. I wish there were more shows like it on TV. It’s just too bad that even after all these years the funniest videos never win.

  9. emb: That would be called lakefront property here in Texas. I have no objection to that. But I’m not gonna leave Texas, good Lord willing and the crick don’t rise. “I’m Texas born and Texas bred, and when I die, I’ll be Texas dead”. 😀

  10. Howdy, y’all (Southern is the official language of the Village, right?) I’ve been off line for a couple weeks due to a well-deserved Italian vacation and I am trying to catch up on the recent postings.

    Lots of rain here in the Delaware Valley though fortunately no where near as bad as things down South. We have our share of lousy weather but seem to be located in a sweet spot that rarely gets really severe weather events. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. emb, darn you for letting the secret out. I have always thought the northern lakes the best and best keep secret vacation sites. Please don’t advertise, there are far too few jet ski free zones left, silence is truly golden.

  12. AFV is still on the air: http://afv.com/ I was forced to watch it regularly a year ago. It’s not bad, I would just rather be reading. I’m sure you can now submit your videos as youtube links.

  13. Things seem to be rapidly approaching the point where it is unsafe to entrust anything important or sensitive to a networked computer. With the recently announced major (and still unfixed) Internet Explorer security breach, I have finally given up on IE, which it seems should have been named Internet Exploiter. It’s like a cruise liner company building their flagship vessel with a hull that won’t keep the water out. So no more IE browsing for this boy.

  14. Anyone know if any damage occurred in NC at Cary or at New Bern?

    I don’t bank online at all for security reasons. Oddly enough, my financial institution is in the middle of a push towards forcing all clients to receive statements online!! If we refuse, we are charged an extra fee each month for each account. That fee feels like blackmail….

  15. I’m flabbergasted, nay dumbfounded, that AFV is still on television.
    Considering the absolutely atrocious “reality” shows that now infest every corner of the airwaves I shouldn’t be surprised.
    I’m with James R. – I’d rather be reading (and usually am). Or painting. Or listening to music. Or out walking the mesa tops. Or cooking. Or heck, just about anything instead of most television.

  16. Ex-Professor, we just heard from one of our boat builder/designer friends who is based just out of New Bern, NC and they did not mention the tornadoes or damage. We asked if they had been damaged or had tornadoes after we saw it on tv as it was apparently hitting there live on weather channel. It looked like it was right on top of them actually. Beautiful area, we were there last October for about two weeks and loved it, stayed just outside Oriental and wandered around blissfully.

    My friend would know as she is active with county emergency/fire/disaster/relief, so if you want to know anything specific, I can ask her.

    Love, Jackie Monies (Isn’t it strange, the internet makes disaster so personal now?)

  17. EMB:

    As I mentioned, it’s a superb book, and I strongly recommend it.

    I’ve neither seen a photo of her or heard her voice, so I cannot comment upon any tenseness.

  18. emb – I caught your reference to Lake Aggasiz immediately with a chuckle and wondered how many others would. There is also, of course, Lake Maumee, whose shores are not far south of me. No jet skis there, either.

  19. Thanks to Nancy, Jackie, & Granny for the good words. I have a former student in each place (they were our babysitters, too) with families, and was concerned. Now they are about old enough to retire – makes one feel one’s years. In those days, students could become friends; nowadays, I imagine too many people would disapprove. I remember driving 730 miles each way, solo, just to attend the wedding of one of them (and saw the other en route)!

  20. Jeff & eMb: I thought Janis was giving a facetiously sympathetic “tsk, tsk”. (Anyone note the special character of one of the words used in that first sentence?)

  21. Yes. It’s one of a very few English words to contain all the vowels once each, and in order. Another such is “abstemiously”.

  22. Like all “reality” shows today it quickly became scripted. A man is filling his gas tank and his pants fall off. Now why was someone filming him to start with? Any projectile of any sort moving with any velocity always hit a male in the groin, rule one of “reality”.

  23. I always assumed the reason for certain situations recurring during that show was someone in the editorial staff thought those were the funny ones. And that raises some questions: What’s truly funny? What portion of the population agrees? How do they select audience members and are they representative of the general population?

    Since the show rarely awarded winning status to the videos I liked, I quit watching during the first season.

  24. I can truthfully state that I have never watched any of the so-called “reality” shows, from Funniest Home Videos to Survivor or The Great Race., including any of the ones that require a group of people to share a house. I have enough reality on my own time, thank you, and with a few notable exceptions (Cosmos) prefer to be entertained by the boob-tube. And no, I’ve never watched Seinfeld, either.

  25. Jean, you and me, both some friends send me clips now and then and, like Queen Victoria, I am not amused.

    Robb, it’s an ancient Vaudeville saying: “When they aren’t laughing, drop your pants.” 😀