Smile, you're on Candid Camera!
show that originally premiered in 1948 and has ran off and on ever since. The original show was created and produced by Allen Funt; it used hidden cameras to film ordinary people in unusual situations, such as a desk with drawers that pop open when one is closed. When the joke was revealed, the victims would be greeted with the catchphrase
"Smile, you're on Candid Camera
." Celebrities were regularly featured as well, either as victims of or as participants in a prank. Participants in gags included Woody Allen
and Buster Keaton
It is, needless to say, the Trope Namer
and Trope Codifier
for the Candid Camera Prank
There was a poorly received syndicated version in the 1990s starring Dom De Luise
. Another incarnation starred Allen's son Peter Funt and Dina Eastwood, and ran until 2004 on the PAX Network. Another revival began on TV Land
in August 2014, retaining Peter Funt, but adding Mayim Bialik as co-host.
This show provides examples of the following:
- Bavarian Fire Drill: The British version once successfully (pretended to have) closed an entire county, only allowing vehicles in as others came out.
- The American version did a similar prank, except it was the state of Texas that they "closed".
- Candid Camera Prank: The whole point of the show. It is the Trope Namer, after all.
- Cutting the Knot: Sometimes the prank victims got the better of the show. One prank involved a pair of escalators that both went up (they switched the second one so that it went down, leaving any unfortunate passengers stuck on the landing). One woman simply reached down and hit the Emergency Stop button present on all escalators and continued on her way.
- Decoy Damsel: Used several times. In one instance, a frail blond Distressed Damsel would be deposited on some street corner with two large suitcases. The suitcases looked identical, but one was empty and the other was filled with concrete, weighing at least 200 pounds. When some big strong man approached, she would ask him to help with her suitcases...then she would pick up the empty suitcase and walk away while the hidden camera recorded the reaction of the poor schmo who tried to pick up the other suitcase.
- Husky Russkie: Subverted when they tried the trick in Moscow. The blonde pulled the routine on a burly Russian pedestrian...who picked up the 200-pound suitcase and followed her effortlessly.
- Laugh Track
- Mistaken for an Imposter: Allen Funt was once on a flight that was hijacked and flown to Cuba. Because everyone on the plane recognized him, he was the only passenger to realize that this wasn't a joke.
- The Movie: Funt made two movies with the same premise — What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? and Money Talks.
- Reaching Between the Lines: There was a stunt where a person talking on the phone suddenly sneezed. The victim, at the other end, was then sprayed with water from a gadget in the receiver. The victims reacted with disgust, at least until Fridge Logic kicked in.
- Recycled INSPACE: Candid Candid Camera was a direct-to-video spinoff featuring coarse language and nudity.
- Schmuck Bait: A key component of many pranks.
- Inverted once when they put, in a public place, a bowl full of money with a sign that said "FREE MONEY". Nobody touched it, assuming it was Schmuck Bait.
- The Television Talks Back: Once done on the French version with a victim who was watching Questions pour un Champion, just as the guy found the answer to a question about a TV show where people are pranked on tape.
- Title Drop: Regularly, when they tell people at the end of the pranks to "Smile, you're on Candid Camera." Additionally, the show films pranks in locations throughout the United States, leading to an extended version of the Catch Phrase at the end of the show when the hosts warn us that "Don't be surprised if sometime, somewhere, someplace when you least expect it, someone steps up to you and says 'Smile, you're on Candid Camera!"
- Ur Example: For many similar successor shows down the ages, like Britain's Game For A Laugh in the 1980s.