Sunday, October 15, 2006


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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep. Brings back memories, good ones, for me to. I think it helped form my sense of humor. I remember Steve Allen's short stories and skits on TV. Also Plimpton's Paper Lion. I just love practical jokes.Thanks for the memory!

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great show in its day for sure Ginnie. I can remember people always talking about the latest episodes following the shows weekly airing. Made for great "water cooler" talk as they say. There were just so many classic pranks. Perhaps the "mailbox" episode being one of Allen's most famous.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Maya's Granny said...

My personal favorite was when they had a woman under the table in the hosiery department with her leg sticking out pretending to be a manikin leg. Every once in a while, she would wiggle her toes.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Ginnie, I SO agree with you! That was a great show and I loved watching it. Laughter IS the best medicine, so I feel bad for the person that thought the show "made fun" of people. We weren't laughing AT the ones caught on camera...we were laughing WITH them and that's always an endorphin boost!

2:45 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

I remember watching this on my grandma's little black and white television with the round screen and tubes that had to warm up. These were the best of times! I wonder if people today would be as understanding of this humor as then - they always seemed to take it so well even when the joke was on them. Thanks for the warm and fuzzy!

7:42 PM  
Blogger Chancy said...

Ginni, I loved Candid Camera. It was great fun to watch and everyone who was filmed, when the segment was over, was perfectly happy.

So the grouch who thinks it was people being taken advantage of probably never ever watched CC

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved Candid Camera! So many sticoms are funny but don't make me laugh out loud. Candid Camera could. It taught me about my own humor style and my love of watching human nature. I miss the show.

6:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had our own version of this show in the UK. My favourite was of the mechanic being asked to look at a broken down car, only to discover that it had no engine. We were easily amused back then.

8:28 AM  

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