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Practical Jokes TV Shows from the United States

Updated on November 23, 2008

I enjoy watching a funny sitcom or movie, but nothing makes my stomach hurt from laughing like a good “hidden camera” practical joke show. Watching these have made me laugh so hard that my husband actually comes from the other room to see if I’m okay. Then, the show usually sucks him in too, so we sit and laugh together.

Not all of these shows are created equal—there are definitely some that are better than others. This article will focus on shows from the U.S., but I’ve seen some awesome ones from around the world.

Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!

The Candid Camera series began in the 1940s, and I must call it the grandparent of all of the hidden camera shows that followed. Candid Camera actually began on the radio as Candid Microphone. The show has appeared in many different formats, from smaller clips in regular programs to its own daily program to specials. The common theme, however, is that practical jokes are played on unsuspecting people.

I remember watching this show as a young child with my grandparents. Perhaps the beauty of this show is that it is funny and family friendly. There really is nothing better than watching unsuspecting people have a practical joke played on them.

Scene from Candid Camera

TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes

This television show began airing in the 1980s, first as a series, then as a group of specials. Eventually, the practical joke part of the show was dropped, and focused solely on Bloopers. Huh? Practical jokes are the best! There have been a series of deviations from this show, but classic is best. The show featured a series of Candid Cameraish episodes, but the joke targets tended to be celebrities.

Practical joke on Vanna White

MTV’s Punk’d

This show was a flashy prank show put on by MTV and hosted by Ashton Kutcher. The show focused on playing pranks on celebrities—which was pretty funny. Punk’d tended to go a bit overboard, especially with Kutcher’s over the top shouting at the camera. Seriously, he acted like a punk on speed or a kid who ate a bucket full of Mars bars. The still brought laughs. Celebrities quickly began to suspect they were being Punk’d, so the show was cancelled… That is what everyone thought anyway. The show made a secret comeback, which resulted in more celebrity pranks.

Only one failed punk was ever showed on air, but there have been stories of other failures. As well, a few celebrities figured out they were being punked, and called Kutcher out. Rumor has it there are other celebrities who refused to sign the release form. Have you been punk’d?

Ellen Pompeo Gets Punk'd

Just for Laughs!

Admittedly, this show is a spinoff from Canada’s Just for Laughs Gags. When the American version of Just for Laughs hit TV in 2007, I was quickly drawn in by the commercials. I never planned on watching it, but would find it on when I was skimming channels. It is a simple, funny show. There aren’t any elaborate plots, no talking, and the pranks are fairly short. Most importantly, the show cracks me up.

It is a hidden camera show where practical jokes are played on unsuspecting people. Music plays in the background and there isn’t any dialogue. The only other things you hear are the occasional sound effect and canned laughter. Out of all of the recent gag shows, this one is the funniest.

Scene from Just for Laughs

Whenever I watch these shows, something inside of me starts jumping up and down. I may have missed my true calling as a practical joker. I love playing jokes on people and being silly…but, I do wish I could take it on a bigger level, like these shows do. Hey, I still have a lot of life to live, so who knows?

What are your favorite practical joke shows?


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      Rosie 8 years ago

      America's funniest home videos featuring pets crack me up. That's why it can be a lot of fun to have a hidden camera set up to watch your pet/s while you are away. Who knows you may have a winner for that show.