“SMILE … you’re on CANDID CAMERA”
In 1960 “Candid Camera” premiered on CBS and enjoyed an eight year run. It was the first reality-based comedy program on TV, featuring footage (taken by a hidden camera) of everyday people caught in ridiculous situations devised by the show’s host, Allen Funt.
When I was researching dates and facts about “Candid Camera” I came across this comment by a fellow watcher, “I can’t see how anyone except someone with a sadistic streak a mile wide could honestly enjoy watching people be pranked and made fools of. This should tell you a lot about the cruelty of human nature and how so many of us get a kick out of seeing someone degraded on national TV.”
Really? Here are some of the “cruel and degrading” episodes that I remember most clearly:
The bunch of school kids who have been having a lively discussion about Muhammed Ali...only to have him show up on the playground and surprise them.
The dry-cleaning clerk who tells the customer that he sold their laundry to make money for college.
The store selling water beds and the customer that tries it out, only to find that the water bed has sprung a leak.
The famous “wired mailbox” that says “thank you” every time a piece of mail is deposited.
...and my favorite: The official-looking person who stops a car at the state line and tells the driver, “I’m sorry but Pennsylvania is closed for the day. Come back tomorrow.”
I guess this tells you a lot about my sadistic nature because I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It could get repetitious at times but it was good, clean fun, and the simple act of being recorded on film brought “15 minutes of fame” to many a hum-drum life.