Australia, Australia this is you
How is it we can still laugh at wounded children, injured animals and wedding pratfalls? Love it or loathe it, Funniest Home Videos is a survivor. Shelley Craft tells TV Tonight why.
In 1989 Graham Kennedy told Australia to ‘whack it in the old JVC’.
Twenty years later, the clips are still playing, hosted by the bubbly Shelley Craft.
“Now we just whack it in the old JVC DVD,” she says.
After 500 hours and 120,000 clips (and they’re just the ones that made it to air), how is it Australia can still laugh at wounded children, injured animals and wedding pratfalls? Love it or loathe it, Australia’s Funniest Home Videos is a survivor. A slice of video Australiana.
Craft, who also hosts Domestic Blitz, follows in the footsteps of Toni Pearen, Kim Kilbey, Jo Beth Taylor, Catriona Rowntree, Lisa Patrick, Jacki McDonald and Kennedy (the sole male host). She attributes its success as perfect family fare. Viewers have grown up with the show, watch it with their kids in the old Hey Hey slot and warm to the running gag element of the show’s content.
“You have your favourites. I love the animal clips, they would have to be my pick. I’m not very good with baby vomiting. It’s not really my bag at all, especially when it’s on camera,” she says.
“We get so many of the accident stacks, the bike stacks or whatever, but I think only one of them has ever won a Grand Final. It usually does come down to the cute kids. So anyone who has a cute kid at home get the camera rolling you might be $250,000 richer by the end of the year. Chuck in a dog or a mad cat you might get a few votes along the way.”
With some serious prizes on offer there are also those who go to great lengths to stage a perfect accident.
“We do get a couple of fake ones and I’m sure the producers know who they are,” she says. “We have a little catchcry for one guy who sends in one a week. He goes to so much effort and you can tell they’re a set-up. But the attention to detail and the trouble that he’s gone to, you’ve got to give him a crack. So we do show it but unfortunately he’s never in a chance to win the prizes. But we’re very grateful for his efforts.”
The show’s structure has also modified over the years. Now gags are themed under titled segments. There is also a significant proportion of overseas clips.
“But they also use ours,” she says. “We send our clips overseas and they go into the Funniest Videos bank.”
Yet there is nothing as instantly recognisable as seing an Aussie backyard on the telly. In years to come an AFHV time capsule could serve as a video diary of the nation in the nineties and naughties.
“What would the show be without a hills hoist and a slippery slide?”
Hand in hand with the show’s laugh track are its whacky sound effects and voice overs, first effected by impersonator Keith Scott and for the last five years voiced by Dave Gibson.
This week the show marks its 20th Anniversary with a best-of battle between the show’s previous Grand Final winners. Expect to see lots of infants falling over, animals with unique tricks and adults going A over T. The show is defiantly the ultimate running gag.
“It’s always going to end the same isn’t it?” asks Craft.
Australia’s Funniest Home Videos 20th Anniversary Special airs 6:30pm Saturday on Nine.