America's Funniest People

The fall season’s highest-rated new show is this rip-off of America’s Funniest Home Videos, the program that airs just before it. Like that show, America’s Funniest People features nonprofessionals doing amusing things, has a Full House cast member as a host (David Coulier), and makes you feel like a happy idiot while you watch. It’s easy to rail against the foolishness of these shows, but it’s hard not to be fitfully amused by them. One of the best recent segments, for example, featured twin brothers who did uncanny Eddie Murphy impersonations simultaneously. ”Did you ever wonder how annoying it would be if there were two Eddie Murphys?” the brothers asked at the same time. They were right to ask, but their Eddies were hilariously annoying.

Unlike Funniest Home Videos, in which those captured on camera are theoretically unaware that they’re about to do anything funny, Funniest People takes camera crews around the country to film people who are really trying to be entertaining: the woman who plays a xylophone by hitting it with Ping-Pong balls, or the fellow who can make his enormous stomach move up, down, and side-to-side without moving any other part of his body — that sort of thing. Many of these people are truly talented, although often in rather peculiar ways. Each week the studio audience votes, and the grand prize is $10,000.

Unfortunately, Coulier, a talented impressionist, is saddled with the fixed-grinning Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives) as his cohost. They have no chemistry, and engage in repartee like this:

She: ”I make all my own clothes the old-fashioned way.”
He: ”You earn them?”
She: ”No, I charge them — I worry about earning them later.”

This is America’s Most Banal Chatter. C

America's Funniest People
  • TV Show