Everyone knows that delightful catchphrase: "Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" Or, at least, I think everyone does. If you don't, you are truly missing out on some good ol' fashioned classic American television. Candid Camera is often credited (and blamed) for many of today's popular reality TV shows, primarily ones that involve hidden pranks on passersby and people getting punched in the groin. If none of this sounds familiar to you, then I suggest you reevaluate your—and your parents'—priorities in life.
The premise of Candid Camera was to capture a candid (see where the title came from?) moment with an unsuspecting person in an awkward situation contrived by the people running the show. The "altered" reality was always in good fun and usually involved a light-hearted prank such as having a "couple" of actors argue in front of someone, and then ask, "Who's right?" Slapstick comedy was also used heavily, with props or even actors falling apart in order to get a reaction. Eventually, one of the actors would point to a camera nearby, confess the foolery, and pop the catchphrase, "Smile! You're on Candid Camera!"
The reactions of unsuspecting guests were most always of relief and genuine amusement. To be a "victim" on the show soon became a badge of honor for the general TV viewing public. And because episodes were being shot in varying locations and states, hearing "You're on Candid Camera!" became a real possibility that kept viewers on the edge of the couch, week after week.
Candid Camera's predecessor, Candid Microphone, launched in 1947 as a radio series, starring Allen Funt. It transitioned quickly to television in 1948. Funt's son, Peter—a producer and stand-up comic in his own right—took over the series as co-host and producer when his father fell ill in the mid 90s. America lost a classic icon when the elder Funt passed away in 1999, but his son Peter kept the smiles and laughter alive.
"8 Decades of Smiles" at the Tower Theatre on June 26, will not merely drum up old episodes. According to Funt, "I will be doing some of my stage comedy as well as a lot of interaction with the audience and even some behind-the-scenes clips."
Having filmed in all 50 states, he recalls at least two bits from Oregon. He says, "I'm going to see if we can find those. I think it'd be a real treat for the audience."
The live show is a special benefit for NeighborImpact, a local organization that supports those in need with meals, rent, and general assistance with everyday bills. "I think my dad is pretty proud of what we've been doing, especially our work with NeighborImpact," says Funt. "It truly makes me sad to think of someone in such an able country as ours to go hungry. It really is just not right. This is what my dad would want. He would always say, 'We are so darned lucky. The least we can do is give a bit back.'"
Candid Camera's 8 Decades of Smiles with Peter Funt
Sunday June 26, 7-10pm
835 NW Wall St., Bend
$28, $38, $48