America's Funniest Home Videos

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"You know I like to think of my job as holding a mirror up to the face of America. I don't... offer to help you shave, or comb your hair. Or check for cellulite. I just hold the mirror. Look at yourselves."
Tom Bergeron, on the show.

Long-running television series that features home video clips sent in by viewers, and has aired on ABC since its debut as a special in November 1989. At the end of most episodes, the producers pick three clips for the studio audience to vote on for prizes of $2,000, $3,000, and $10,000; the big money winner goes on to compete with other weekly winners for a $100,000 prize later in the season.

The show can be considered the proto-Reality Show concept, as it existed through audience interaction. AFHV has gone through three "eras", being originally hosted by comedian Bob Saget until 1997, then by Daisy Fuentes and John Fugelsang from 1998-99. Over 1999-2000 it existed as occasional specials rather than a regular series, but it returned to the old format in 2001 with Tom Bergeron as host and has remained an ABC fixture since. (A lot of people are only familiar with the Bob Saget version... which is odd, because usually the Bergeron episodes are the only ones that ever air nowadays. And the show is heavily promoted, so you'd have to have lived under a rock since the late 1990s to not know this show is still on, and has a different host.)

It has been described as the ur-YouTube (or the ur-FAIL Blog, in some aspects), only with more Bob Saget.

Tropes used in America's Funniest Home Videos include:
  • The Announcer: ABC staff announcer Ernie Anderson, best known for his bumpers for The Loooooooove Boat, was the announcer until his death. (In one episode, Anderson's illustrious past was pointed out by Saget and he even gave the audience a thrill by saying The Loooooooove Boat one more time.) Gary Owens announced the show from 1995 to 1997, and voice actor Jess Harnell took over after Owens left.
  • Anticipatory Breath Spray: One memorable clip in Season One had a groom do this right before he kissed the bride.
  • Biting the Hand Humor: An unusual case -- the show has its enforced plugs for ABC's corporate parent Disney (see below), but aside from those grand prize shows Disney hasn't stopped them from running home videos that don't paint the Disney Theme Parks in the best light, such as costumed characters falling off of parade floats or scaring toddlers, and a memorable clip of The Hall of Presidents's Abraham Lincoln animatronic slowly falling backwards at the waist during his big speech. Even better, one season finale shot at Disney World had Bergeron joke that when his daughters go there, the three things they're most excited to see are "Mickey, Minnie, and Daddy's Wallet."
  • Catch Phrase: "Keep those cameras safely rolling" in the Saget era, probably added because there was concern from commentators and the producers themselves that people would wind up seriously hurt, accidentally or even intentionally, in pursuit of prizes. Bergeron uses "If you can get it on tape, you can get it in cash"; he now uses "video" in that phrase thanks to the rise of online video uploading, and then later, "Upload to us. Get rich. Get famous."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tom Bergeron, often.
  • Double Standard: There have been dozens of video clips involving a mother secretly recording her teenage son showering to embarrass him, all of which have aired. When one father sent in a clip of him secretly recording his teenage daughter showering, the clip never aired and the producers accused him of being a pervert.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the special that began the series, Saget had a co-host, Kellie Martin, who at the time was playing Becca Thatcher on Life Goes On.
  • Enforced Plug: In the Bergeron era, there's plenty of shilling for the show's website, where videos can be viewed and/or posted for future contests, as well as the occasional visit from performers from other ABC reality shows (such as Dancing with the Stars, also hosted by Bergeron). Above all is the constant hyping of Disney Theme Parks: Disney owns ABC and most grand prizes now include trips to them or whatever their newest vacation venture is. That means that several episodes, usually season finales, have been filmed at the hyped locales and have Bergeron visiting the rides and whatnot. There have also been segments during non-event shows that were nothing more than ads for Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons, and clips "presented" by Denny's, Pepperidge Farm, etc.
    • In the show's beginning, the consolation prizes were RCA products like TVs, camcorders and VCRs (and promoted as such), which was ironic because RCA was formerly the longtime owner of rival network NBC, but by Season 2 all three winners got cash (probably because it was redundant to give runner-ups cameras and VCRs, along with the usual travel costs for contestants to LA being not so worth it for a near-$900 prize you had to pay taxes on), while the RCA plugs were edited out of the syndicated versions, giving the revisionist effect that the runners-up got nothing in Season 1.
  • The Faceless: The offscreen assistant who would hand Bob the voting results toward the end of every episode. Also a Butt Monkey, as Bob would spout witty insults at this person's expense.
  • Foregone Conclusion: See Spotlight-Stealing Squad below: If a baby/toddler/little kid make it to the finals, go ahead and change the channel - they're probably going to win. Especially if said child is behaving like a complete brat.
  • Foreign Remake: It's based on a segment from the Japanese show Fun TV with Kato-chan and Ken-chan. An Australian version was launched soon after. It and other sister versions, particularly from Europe, have provided clips to the American show on occasion.
    • A Peruvian version was attempted, but with only one episode made. And by the channel that aired the original show.
    • A Russian version, called roughly "Self-made Director", exists since 1992 and isn't going to disappear anytime soon.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Saget didn't get much if any while he hosted the show, but he gets some amazing lines past when he comes back during a Bergeron episode.
    • Not to mention one episode featured a clip of a preadolescent girl accidentally flashing the camera and being completely uncensored. If a video has the risk of getting you arrested if it's on your computer, odds are it probably shouldn't be aired on national television.
  • Home Game: Yes, even this show had one. It even came with a tape full of clips, of course.
  • Long Runner: More than 20 seasons.
  • Lovely Assistant: Daisy Fuentes.
  • MST: Especially with Saget. In fact, two of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 writers (Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein) went on to write for AFV.
  • Once an Episode: Saget almost always signed off with a joke beginning with the phrase "And honey?" (except for the tail end of his run; see below). Bergeron does slo-mo replays of the "honorable mentions" from each show, in a spoof of inspiring montages.
  • "Previously On...": Parodied in the Bergeron era -- each episode opens with him intoning "Previously on AFV..." and a quick montage of particularly silly clips from the actual previous episode follows.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: A classic clip featured Carlos Jones, a black boy with a pronounced accent who shouted out the alphabet letter by letter. ("Aeh! Beh! Ceh! Deh!", etc.)
  • Reality Subtext: Saget's last two episodes did not have him do the "And honey..." closer. By that point, his marriage was crumbling and eventually resulted in a divorce.
  • Rearrange the Song: Jill Colucci's "The Funny Things You Do" was remixed in Saget's last season, and remixed again for the Bergeron version to the point that it no longer resembles the original.
  • Rule of Cute: Clips of cute kittens, puppies, and especially cute babies have a high chance of winning, even if they're not particularly funny.
  • Running Gag: See also Groin Attack.
    • Bergeron frequently jokes about how pinatas and trampolines remain popular, despite all the havoc they've caused over the years.
  • She's Got Legs: Note during the host segments that rarely (if ever) is a female audience member sitting near the front row wearing pants. They almost always are young and have a skirt that doesn't cover the knees.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty given the nature of the show, including the occasional Genius Bonus. For example:
  • Slapstick: Most of the humor falls into this sort of category. This includes:
    • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Yep, even the girls are fair game.
    • Musical Slapstick Montage: Every show has at least one; in the Bergeron era there are usually two. One uses a radio favorite (old or new), and one uses an instrumental, usually a public domain classical piece.
    • The Pratfall: Countless amateur versions have been displayed.
  • Spin-Off
    • America's Funniest People ran from 1990-94 and was hosted by Dave Coulier -- another Full House performer -- and a female co-host (Arleen "Harley Quinn" Sorkin from 1990-92, Tawny Kitaen from 1992-94). The videos sent in to this show were of people intentionally being funny, and combined the clips with appearances by comedians and original Sketch Comedy segments.
    • Coulier later hosted a shorter-lived spinoff, The World's Funniest Videos.
    • Producer Vin Di Bona repackaged clips from both Funniest Home Videos and Funniest People for Fox Family Channel's Show Me the Funny and syndication's That's Funny.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Often used, moreso in the Saget era. Other times, they swiped sound effects from elsewhere on ABC, including the "Clang" from Family Feud.
  • Studio Audience: They vote on the videos.
  • This Loser Is You: Most likely the main appeal of the show, and the reason people have kept on watching. Even lampshaded in the original theme song: "America, America, this is you!"
  • Three Dimensional Episode: Which also happened to be a Full House Reunion Show during an ABC 3-D gimmick week. Incredible awkwardness ensued as poor Saget had to toss objects at the screen to indulge the annoying gimmick while everyone else was there to see the freaking cast of Full House for the first time in two years after the show's cancellation. Oh, and it was also Saget's second-to-last episode.
  • Trans-Atlantic Equivalent: You've Been Framed.
  • We All Live in America: Why have there been so many British and Canadian clips on America's Funniest Home Videos?
  • You Fail Physics Forever: Invoked. During a game of "Head, Gut, or Groin", for a clip of a man diving off a diving board into a pool, a female audience member guessed he would hit his head on the diving board, even though his head was far away from it. Tom Bergeron asked her, "What was your grade in Physics?"

Often clips include...

  • Amusing Injuries
  • Epic Fail: It was practically Failblog (or at least the video portions of Failblog) before there was a Failblog.
  • Gag Penis
  • Groin Attack: Very much present in the early episodes, and still frequent today. One milestone show in the Bergeron era counted down "The Greatest Groin Hits".
    • Indeed, if you ask your average "man on the street" to describe the prototypical AFHV clip, they'll probably say something like "guy getting whacked in the crotch by a golf club."
  • Genre Blind: If you see someone on a bike on a slope very near you, or get a pinata, you'd know to move, right? Well, not so much, even if they see it coming from a mile away.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Sometimes a person will point out a person zipper is undone, a person's shirt will get closed in a car door and yes, a woman's bra would either fall off or accidently be yanked off exposing her breasts.