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Just for Laughs
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that that this hidden-camera comedy features mostly harmless pranks, like squirting people with water and pretending to put a dog in a mailbox. Some jokes occasionally contain a mild sexual or scatological theme, such as one scenario in which a couple asks strangers to take their picture -- and each time, the printout shows a close-up of the woman's breasts. Another set-up involves pretend urinating on people, which returns hilarious reactions. But it's not as mean-spirited as some other hidden-camera or blooper shows, and most parents of tweens probably won't find much to object to.
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What's the story?
Based on a Canadian series, the half-hour hidden-camera comedy relies on silly gags and universal themes to bring on the guffaws. Hosted by Rick Miller, the show features gags played on the unsuspecting. For example: A woman asks a stranger for help opening a mailbox, only to place her furry lapdog inside instead of her package. As the gag plays over and over with different strangers, the reactions run the gamut from stunned silence to wide-eyed paralysis to angry attempts to rescue the pooch.
Is it any good?
When cop shows, family sitcoms, and foul-mouthed chefs prove tiresome, JUST FOR LAUGHS will provide a fluffy TV fix without requiring much in return. Some segments are funnier than others, of course, but most viewers will find something to laugh at. Though viewers can sometimes make out what people are saying by lip-reading, the comedy is purely situational and requires no dialogue, which makes the show universally appealing.
Scenarios are mostly family-friendly, but some veer slightly out of the G-rated range. For instance, one set-up involves an apparently blind man pretending to pee on inner-tube riders at a theme park. As the park-goers calmly float down a man-made river in their bathing suits, the "blind" man squirts them with a tube he holds at crotch level. Reactions range from frantic paddling out of the way to jumping up out of the water to chase the apparent culprit. Viewers looking for light entertainment that isn't quite as clever as the classic Candid Camera but has a little more class than America's Funniest Home Videos will enjoy Just for Laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about hidden-camera shows. Is it funny or mean to subject people to the type of pranks seen on this show? What does it feel like to be the one in the spotlight when others are laughing? How should a person handle being the subject of a joke? What's the difference between laughing at someone and laughing with them? Which do you see more of in the media? Families can also discuss how people react to surprising situations. What do people's different reactions to the same scenario tell you about them? What does it mean when everyone reacts the same way?