LAUGH ’TIL IT HURTS

It may be cel­e­brat­ing its 20th birth­day this year but don’t go ex­pect­ing Aus­tralia’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos to start grow­ing up any time soon, says Guy Davis.

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Since its de­but in 1990, when Gra­ham Kennedy ut­tered those magic words “Just whack it in the old JVC VCR”, to its lat­est in­car­na­tion, hosted by the ef­fer­ves­cent Shel­ley Craft (who joined the show last year), Aus­tralia’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos – Chan­nel Nine’s cav­al­cade of cute tod­dlers, crafty an­i­mals, cringe-in­duc­ing in­juries and even more cringe-in­duc­ing voiceovers – has re­mained res­o­lutely im­ma­ture.

And that’s just the way its au­di­ence – a size­able and de­voted au­di­ence of around a mil­lion view­ers ev­ery Satur­day night – likes it.

Nine is air­ing a spe­cial 20th an­niver­sary edi­tion of Aus­tralia’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos on Satur­day April 4, with the mak­ers of the show go­ing back through the archives to find the grand fi­nal win­ners of the past two decades, with a team of judges de­cid­ing which video is lit­er­ally “The Best Clip of All Time”.

Ac­cord­ing to Craft, there are a wide and di­verse ar­ray of sub­jects that made the Aus­tralia’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos cut over the years but there’s one that usu­ally tends to at­tract the at­ten­tion of the judges and tickle the funny bone of the view­ers: ba­bies.

Whether they’re show­ing re­mark­able re­silience by bounc­ing back af­ter a tum­ble, shoot­ing spaghetti out of their noses and just gig­gling up a storm, an­kle-biters and rug rats have proven among the most pop­u­lar stars of the many, many videos (Craft es­ti­mates the num­ber at about 120,000) that have been sub­mit­ted over the show’s 20-year his­tory.

Of course, old favourites such as ag­i­tated an­i­mals and high-speed skate­board prangs have their fans too, she ad­mit­ted.

One thing she has no­ticed, how­ever, is that the qual­ity of the cam­er­a­work hasn’t im­proved all that much in 20 years.

“You’d think with the way tech­nol­ogy has im­proved, the pic­ture would be a bit stead­ier,” she laughed.

She also points out that the qual­ity of prize for the win­ner of the show’s an­nual grand fi­nal has al­ways been a bit of a big deal, al­though she thinks that the 1990 win­ner, who won them­selves a car, would prob­a­bly be a lit­tle en­vi­ous of the 2009 win­ner, who is awarded a cool $250,000.

Craft says that she’s happy and proud to be fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of a long line of Aus­tralia’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos hosts, beginning with the late, great Kennedy (the Craft fam­ily would watch his episodes back in 1990) and in­clud­ing the likes of Jo Beth Tay­lor, Lisa Pa­trick, Catriona Rown­tree, Kim Kil­bey and, most re­cently, Toni Pearen.

“It has been around so long it’s an in­sti­tu­tion,” she said of the show. “As far as a TV ca­reer goes, you want a good show that rates well, and this one has done that for 20 years – it’s an amaz­ing thing to be part of.”

She seems happy to con­tinue pre­sent­ing the pro­gram, while she has re­cently com­pleted a sec­ond sea­son of Nine’s home-makeover show Do­mes­tic Blitz and is wait­ing to hear if a third sea­son will get the go-ahead.

In the mean­time, as long as pets go nuts, kids stay clumsy and hoons stack their bikes, Aus­tralia’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos will be mak­ing light of it.

“It’s OK to laugh at other peo­ple’s mis­for­tunes,” re­as­sures Craft with a gig­gle. “Ev­ery­body’s do­ing it!”

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