Our Video Humor Achieves Immortality

Posted April 10, 2009 at 1:58pm

A home video of a middle-aged woman stuck in a dishwasher while her husband chuckles and keeps on filming has now become a record of humiliation for the ages. The video, along with other gems from the hit TV show “America’s Funniest Home Videos,— will be preserved as part of the National Museum of American History’s television memorabilia collection.

This clip and other objects were donated last week by Vin Di Bona, the creator of the TV show.

They’ll join other TV icons such as Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt and Archie Bunker’s recliner.

“America turned the cameras on themselves and showed their humor, spirit and innovation,— Melinda Machado, associate director of the museum, said at the donation ceremony held at the newly renovated Behring Center.

Steve Paskay, who created the show with Di Bona in 1989, said that when he saw the dishwasher clip, he knew the show would be a success.

Paskay said he knew that “if there’s one couple like that, there’s thousands.—

Di Bona donated several objects from the show’s history to the museum, including the large, clunky camcorder used to shoot the first winning video and one of the first voting instruments used by audiences to rank videos shown on the show.

For 20 years, “America’s Funniest Home Videos— has featured footage of everything from pets acting out, to children making funny faces, to the obligatory injury to the crotch. Then, of course, there are those that feature misadventures on trampolines in backyards across the country.

“I still don’t know why people buy trampolines,— Di Bona told the crowd. “Haven’t they seen our show?—

“We don’t want them getting smarter!— host Tom Bergeron called out from his seat in the audience.

Di Bona said he has always thought of the show as a bunch of “small documentaries of what happens in an American family— and that each week he promises viewers “10 to 15 belly laughs.—

While the show has stayed on the air for a generation, Paskay said the beginning was a bit tricky. The show began as a one-time special and grew into a series that ABC wasn’t sure how to market.

“It wasn’t a sitcom, and it wasn’t a variety show, so what was it?— Paskay said.

Eventually the network and producers settled on a format that involved sound effects, music and funny voices. ABC placed ads in various publications soliciting tape submissions and signed “Full House— star Bob Saget as the host. From there the show grew in popularity with more than 400 episodes airing to date.

“It’s just the universal nature of slapstick comedy, the comedy our neighbors create … [that] has made the show endure,— Di Bona said.