Real People (1979–1983)

TV Series  |  Family
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After "That's Incredible" (1980) surfaced with the same format as "Real People", MAD Magazine summed it up well in their parody show: "That's Real Incredible, People".

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Title: Real People (1979–1983)

Real People (1979–1983) on IMDb 7.3/10

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5   Unknown  
1983   1982   1979   Unknown  
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Series cast summary:
Douglas Maida ...
 Audience Member #1 (2 episodes, 1982-1983)


A prehistoric ancestor to "America's Funniest Home Videos," this show traveled America looking for the funny, the heart-warming, and the downright bizarre. The various segments were narrated by the hosts of the show, and featured things like The Flat Earth Society, a man who could actually run up a 20 ft brick wall, and an old woman who could put the tip of her nose in her mouth. This show defined a genre which would be followed later by shows like "That's Incredible" and "Games People Play." Written by Afterburner <>

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Release Date:

18 April 1979 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


In 1980, during Canadian amputee runner Terry Fox's cross-country Marathon of Hope, "Real People" hostess Sarah Purcell caught up with Terry in Ontario, and proceeded to film an interview while running alongside him. See more »


Referenced in Head Office (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

70s "Found" comedy
4 July 2005 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

As other posters stated, this was a 60 minute show featuring interesting and odd people around the USA. Nearly all of the members of the cast (the late Skip Stephenson, Byron Allen, Fred Willard, and Mark Russell) were all comedians and disciples of Steve Allen's "found" comedy style. The basis was that real people and real life were more interesting and humorous than most contrived scripts.

What the other posters do not mention is that although many of the stories were, at the base, interesting, the show itself could be quite annoying. It was as if the network people didn't get what the show was about and reality needed to be "accented." Many of the segments were edited more in fashion of America's Funniest Home videos; complete with silly sound effects, Keystone Kops fast forwards, cheesy commentary, etc.

For instance, I remember one segment where a car enthusiast bought two Packards and fused the front ends together to make a "push me-pull me" car. Both ends had engines and the driver could operate the car out of either the front or back ends. Pretty fascinating, but out of the five minute segment, only 30 to 40 seconds was dedicated to the car's owner and how he build the car, while the remaining parts of the segments was filled with wacky music and gaping-jawed reactions of local yokels to the vehicle.

Other segments that went off the beaten path, and were not really comedy but of human interest, were criminally short. I remember one segment hosted by (I believe) John Barbour at reunion of American WWII POWs in the Pacific. They began to tell a compelling story of captivity and how, near starving, they bunched their clothing together and made an American Flag. Several broke down on camera with Barbour consoling them -- a very touching story not seen on TV in 1980. Unfortunately, this groundbreaking piece was only a few minutes, and what would have been a great "real people" story was stuck in between other pap.

The direction of this show was not the fault of the hosts or the writers; there are some great ideas in this show, but I remember it mostly being weighted down by corny gimmicks famous of the networks of that time. Later they brought in Peter Billingsly (L'il Ralphy from "A Christmas Story") as a "cute kid" gimmick).

I do not think today's audience would like the pace or editing of this show. It was made for a time when the "Big 3" networks owned the audiences and comedy, with a few exceptions, was painted with a broad brush

11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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