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Little TV Network Comedy Show proves to be Monument and Salute to the Great Silent Clowns:Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Allen Funt (?) Read On, Schultz!!
Give me Physical Comedy, Pantomime and a Sight Gag!(Sounds almost like Omar Khayyam.)
The idea of clandestine filming the average, everyday people that one meets on the street, while they are being an unknowing victim of some humorous prank is certainly nothing new. The name of Allen Funt(1914-1999), the Legendary Producer/Director who began with a Radio Series called "CANDID MICROPHONE". This was heard over the ABC Radio Network and bowed on in 1946.(A truly great year!)
We all know what the concept was of "CANDID CAMERA", so just remove the visual part, and you got it, Schultz! The Radio led to some theatrical comedy shorts, which in turn, brought Mr. Funt band Company to that new medium, Television as"CANDID CAMERA". It had a stretch in syndication before perhaps what was its greatest run on the Columbia Broadcasting System's TV Network. It was a regular on the CBS Sunday Evening Primetime Schedule, 1960-1967. During that period, Allen Funt shared it's Emcee Position with a co-host. Durwood Kirby, Garry Moore and Arthur Godfrey each took turn at the position, and many Show Biz Luninaries guested, with Singer, Dorothy Collins, late of "YOUR HIT PARADE" TV and former Miss America and TV Personality, Bess Myerson as semi-regulars.
The idea of filming the unsuspecting public did continue on other shows besides CANDID CAMERA's continued successful reincarnations. Producer Dick Clark, "America's Oldest Teen-Ager", along with Johnny Carson's Announcer/Straight Man,Ed McMahon co-hosted "TV's BLOOPERS & PRACTICAL JOKES"(1984-??), which had a lengthy,if somewhat irregular run on NBC and then Syndication. The hidden camera 'Practical Jokes' segments were filmed, elaborately set up gags pulled on Show Biz Folks.(The Bloopers part is self explanatory, Schultz!) Warner Brothers' TV and the WB Network had "THE JAMIE KENNEDY EXPERIMENT"(2002-04). This hour long Comedy/Reality Series had 2 or 3 filmed segments per show and really staged elaborate "fooled-ya!" sketches, all with Star, Jamie Kennedy at the center, usually incognito(or with a 'disguise', even!)*
"JUST FOR LAUGHS"(2006-), a show unknown to this writer until tonight, is a current example of an entry into this category(is it really a "Genre"?). From the two episodes that ABC aired today, 8/18/2007,** we found this to be a better-than-average use of this unknown camera/microphone format. The filmed gags were fresh, fast and plentiful. The careful crisp editing is enhanced with a good deal of cross cutting, which gives the segments a much more cinematic appearance, even on video tape.
Director Troy Miller, Writer Wilson Thomas and "Star",Rick Miller and The Production Company, Dakota Pictures, has taken particularly painstaking care in assembling a sketch ensemble company skilled at not only doing screen verbal humor, but also and especially the visual communications, 'Mime', if you please.
For, you see, "JUST FOR LAUGHS" is done with no real recorded dialog, other than an occasional lowly audible scream, guffaw or 'kneeslapper'. It is done in a most "quiet manner". They are essentially little "Silent Movies".
It is this factor that sets it apart from what others we have seen. Just the Music, the Reactions and occasional sound effects; that's all that they used to answer the visual gags displayed.
In the Television Age, there have two really great exponents of The Silent Film Form. And they would be the Great TV Creative Genius, Ernie Kovacs and Britain's Benny Hill, who was a personal TV favourite of 'The Little Tramp' himself, Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin.
Now, Schultz, that's what I call Damn Good Company to be in!
NOTE: * On CBS' "THE LATE SHOW", David Letterman even had a brief recurring sketch with then semi-regular personality Leonard Tepper(1939-2001) in tongue-in-cheek, "Leonard Tepper's HIDDEN TELEVISION", an unsubtle send-up of Allen Funt & Co.
NOTE: ** This date, 09/18/2007 commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the Author's Being Sworn in (and later Sworn at) as a Chicago Policeman, on September 18, 1967.("A Day that will live in Infamy!")
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