America Still Searching For Funniest Home Video

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Vol 41 Issue 13

Oysters Have No Discernible Effect On Date

SEATTLE—According to Justin Grammling, 24, a close inspection of date Karen Stavers, who ate a six-oyster appetizer platter, indicated no marked increase in her libido. "Those things didn't do shit," Grammling said. "She didn't inch closer to me, or play footsie, or take her sweater off. I was keeping an eye on her, and her color didn't even rise." Grammling said he will fall back on Seduction Plan B: alcohol.

'Missed Connection' Ad Obviously Cheney

WASHINGTON, DC—In spite of its anonymity, a "missed connection" ad posted on the D.C.-area Craigslist Monday was clearly the work of Vice President Dick Cheney. "You: the attractive blonde from Newsweek," the ad read. "Me: stout, thinning hair, glasses, surrounded by Secret Service agents. Our eyes met as I was walking across the tarmac. I thought I felt a spark." The posting closed with the message, "Coffee? I'll grant you an exclusive."

American Torturing Jobs Increasingly Outsourced

WASHINGTON, DC—AFL-CIO vice president Linda Chavez-Thompson, representing the American Federation of Interrogation Torturers, released a statement Monday deriding the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, under which American torturing jobs are outsourced to foreign markets. "Outsourcing the task of interrogating terror suspects to countries like Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia is having a crippling effect on the Americans who make a living by stripping detainees nude, shackling them to the floor, and beating the living shit out of them," Chavez-Thompson said. "And specialists within the field—corrosive-material chemists, ocular surgeons, and testicular electricians—are lucky to find any jobs at all. How are they supposed to feed their families?" Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended extraordinary rendition, saying the program will create jobs in the long run by fostering a global climate of torture tolerance.

Nation Planning Surprise Party To Cheer Up Conor Oberst

OMAHA, NE—American citizens are coordinating efforts to lift the spirits of wünderkind singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, sources reported Monday. "I saw Conor's picture in a Spin article about Bright Eyes, and he just looked so down," said Lindsey Keisner of Youngstown, OH, one of the party's 4,000 planners. "The country feels really bad that he's going through such a rough spell, so next Friday, everyone who can should meet in Omaha with balloons, funny cards, and silly little gag gifts." Britt Daniel from Spoon will lure Oberst to Omaha by asking him to overdub some vocals.

Being A Considerate Houseguest

If friends or family members are kind enough to invite you to stay at their home, you'll want to be a gracious guest. Here's some tips to help you avoid becoming a burden:

You Won't Believe This, But I'm Actually On A Crowded Elevator Right Now

Oh, hey David. No, it's a fine time. Always got time for you, my man. Dave. How's that lady I saw you with on Saturday? No shit. You're something else, my friend. Really something. Oh, that? That was just the second floor. Yeah, you won't believe this, but I'm actually on this crowded elevator right now. Yeah, it's totally crazy. We're packed like sardines in here.

Information Thieves

Identity theft is a growing problem, with hackers gaining access to more Americans' personal information every year. What are some of the reasons hackers turn to crime?

Five Minutes Of Watching Indian Channel Leads To Five Hours Of Watching Indian Channel

NEW YORK—A five-minute sampling of Hindi-language channel Zee TV stretched into a five-hour Indian TV marathon for Craig Mieritz, 23, Monday. "I have no idea what's going on, but I can't turn it off," the channel-flipping Mieritz said about a colorful, frenetic musical number on the soap opera Tum Bin Jaaoon Kahaan. "Maybe I'll just watch another minute..." Following the soap, Mieritz watched a Hindi pop variety show, 11 music videos, and the three-hour Bollywood epic Khuda Gawah, the remote in his hand the entire time.
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America Still Searching For Funniest Home Video

HOLLYWOOD—Even after 15 years of tireless labor and a score of agonizing near-misses, the staff at America's Funniest Home Videos said Monday that they do not intend to quit until they have found the nation's funniest home video.

Bergeron, who is still searching for the ultimate home video.

"It has been a very long search, but our job isn't done," said Tom Bergeron, the current host of the long-running ABC show. "If we had set out to collect, catalog, and air some of the funnier home videos in America, the show would be off the air already. But everyone involved agrees that, when we chose the word 'funniest,' we made a promise to our viewers. This show will not stop airing until we've delivered on our promise, and found that video."

Since 1990, America's Funniest Home Videos' producers, technicians, and hosts have spent millions of hours poring over viewer entries, listening to sound-effects compilations, and tirelessly airing the fruits of their collective labor before carefully selected focus groups.

Executive producer Vin Di Bona said he never expected the search to go on for so long.

"When we set out on this quest, we assumed it would take two, three years tops," Di Bona said. "We thought someone out there in America had the funniest home video at the ready, and we'd just give it a national audience. Fifteen years later... Well, we know the video is out there, but sometimes, late at night, I do worry that it's locked in a trunk somewhere, and we'll never get our hands on it."

Di Bona said that, although the show has aired hundreds of classic moments—dogs talking, elderly men de-pantsed, and comical water-skiing accidents—no video has been "the one."

"We've come close," Di Bona said. "Parallel-Parking Grandma was almost there. If only she'd knocked over two more lawn ornaments. Or if we'd just nailed the sound effect. We knew the 'boing' wasn't enough, but we felt the 'ker-boinnng, waaaah' was too much."

Di Bona had difficulty pinpointing what his team is looking for.

"When we see it, we'll know it," Di Bona said. "It's not as simple as determining whether a cat is funnier than a cockatiel. There are a million X-factors involved—timing, framing, how onlookers react when the groom falls into the cake."

"I could throw criteria around all day," Di Bona added. "The simple truth is that, if a video doesn't cause an immediate gut reaction, I toss it in the garbage."

"Table Tennis, Anyone?" is one of many home videos that failed to earn the title of "funniest."

According to Di Bona, staying focused on the quest for the ultimate funny home video has put a lot of pressure on the show's hosts.

"[Original host] Bob Saget was a man obsessed," Di Bona said. "After working on Full House, Bob was really excited to do a show with a purpose. But the 80-hour weeks started to wear him down. One late night during season six, Bob flipped. He started cursing, throwing things, and screaming that we were no closer to finding America's funniest home video than we were when we started. In 1997, when he heard the news that Germany had found their nation's funniest video, he quit. He couldn't take the pressure anymore."

Added Di Bona: "I still have faith that we'll find that perfect clip. And, at that point, we'll go off the air—in triumph."

Boston resident Nathan Lister is one of thousands of viewers who contend that Di Bona should end his search.

"I don't see how anyone could see the 1997 clip 'Boy Loses Mug' and argue it's not the one," said Lister, who founded It's Over, a group that advocates naming the clip America's funniest home video. "You can watch it without the 'bonk' or the slide whistle or Bob Saget's post-clip commentary—it's still hysterical. It's the scene that every home-video enthusiast dreams of: that perfect combination of youthful innocence and genital pounding."

The 13-second clip features a medium-shot of a 4-year-old boy sitting in a highchair and waving his juice mug while his father prepares him a bowl of cereal. The father struggles with the bag until it rips, sending cereal flying into the air. The surprise causes the boy to jerk his arm, and his cup slips from his hand and flies into his father's genitals. A golden retriever rushes in to eat the spilled cereal, jumps on the prone, agonized father, and the camera swivels back to the confused, worried face of the boy.

"The timing in 'Boy Loses Mug' is absolutely perfect," said Lister. "We've petitioned ABC to rerun the clip, but they keep giving us the runaround. We want people to see that the title of America's funniest home video is not up for grabs."

Continued Lister: "The goal of America's Funniest Home Videos has already been achieved. Why ABC would want to beat a dead horse like this, I have no idea."

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