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.
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!”