Friday, September 17, 2004

Funniest? I don't think so

Watched the 9 o'clock news last night as is semi-normal. At 10, rather than watching yet another regurgitation of the day's events, we switched to the UPN station to catch an episode of M*A*S*H. At least until I saw that the episode was one written and directed by Alan Alda, which prompted me to turn the station.

It's not that I hate Alan Alda. He (and Mike Farrell for that matter) IS a rabid wingnut of the radical left, but that was a plus for his role as Hawkeye, since he didn't have to do much acting other than acting natural. But when he had a hand in writing the script (which usually meant he directed), the ensuing episode wouldn't be the usual "Funny, with the occasional 'war is bad' point made" instead it was "'War is BAD' with an occasional funny point made". All in all (or Alda in Alda), his plots were way too heavy handed, preferring to bludgeon the viewer over the head and drag them along instead gently nudging them in the desired direction. What, with the state of politics these days (someone needs to make "I'd Rather be forging" bumper stickers), I just didn't have enough patience left in me to sit through an Alda episode.

So, instead, I flipped it over to PAX where they were showing old Bob Saget episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos. I liked Bob Saget ok when he was on Full House, but there he was just part of a larger ensemble. Watching him on AFHV, on the other hand, is just painful. I can't believe this guy was a stand-up comedian...and I'll laugh at almost anything. As for the videos, while I don't find most of them "funny", they are usually at least amusing or cute, and so it's a mindless way to spend a few minutes while letting the day's cares drift away.

What struck me (again) last night was when they panned the audience right before going to a commercial. The audience is ALWAYS laughing as they cut away. Yeah, I know they light up the "Applause" and "Laughter" signs. But these people are not smiling in amusement, or laughing with a few short "heh, heh, heh's" like regular folks. They are engaged in full-scale, open-mouthed, dementia-induced laughing fits.

It's always kind of creeped me out. What could possibly make these "normal" people laugh like that? (It certainly couldn't be the clips they were showing us.)

Last night it came to me. I finally figured it out.

AFHV must hire some goons to come in and slap Bob around right before the commercials to ensure the crowds are properly entertained. That's the only possible explanation.

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