TV pranks gone bad

In all the hidden camera shows like scare tactics, candid camera, bloopers & practical jokes, etc. have there been pranks that went totally wrong and where the mark ends up assaulting the actors or anything like that?

Those tend not to get televised, I’m thinking.

Actually, there was a famous case several years ago, where The Jenny Jones Show invited guests on for people with secret crushes on them to reveal themselves. One guest found out – on national (syndicated) television – that a gay co-worker had a crush on him, and he was visibly shaken up and embarrassed. He later murdered that guy, off the air, of course. The case that followed was a media circus, and the defense attorney took the stance that the show should be blamed for setting him up for life-altering embarrassment. Needless to say, I think Jenny Jones (if she is even still on) changed the format of her show to makeovers and light, non-controversial entertainment after that tragic incident.

David Letterman recently did a bit with Rupert where Dave sent him out wired up to harass people. (Dave tells Rupert what to say via an earpiece). During the bit they mentioned how they stopped doing this a while back because someone pulled a knife. The earlier bits were taped and I really don’t think they aired the knife thing. The current batch are “live” during the show. Even if something went wrong using the current method, it probably wouldn’t air. A lot of editing goes on afterwards with just a “regular” show.

There was that episode of Cheaters where the host confronted a cheating boyfriend who stabbed him.

That probably wasn’t expected.

It’s not a TV prank, but this one certainly backfired for one couple…

Although not real, I’m reminded of a SNL skit with Chris Farley and some fake Folgers coffee crystals. I can’t seem to find a transcript though.

Actually, has anyone ever kicked that little shit The Man Show Boy in the face?

These celebrities were not amused by Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d and denied the right to broadcast their segments.

Candid Camera went off the air after its most recent incarnation due to a lawsuit from one of their unamused candidees against Peter Funt (host and son of Allen-the-hijack-slayer ). A celebrity moment that didn’t go as well as planned on the same last incarnation of the show for exactly the opposite reason was when they pranked Mr. Rogers.

The joke: the Candid Camera crew was in cahoots with a big convention center/hotel that was hosting a PBS convention. The joke: when the guests checked into their rooms there was no television set. Most went into orbit and insisted they couldnt’ stay in a hotel without a TV and yadda bla and somehow it was funny.
The big guest/keynote speaker at the convention was Mr. (Fred) Rogers, so of course evidently he was supposed to go most ballistic of all. Peter Funt, undercover as a bellman, takes him into the room, gets his tip for the baggage, and Mr. Rogers does not seem to notice that there’s no television. Funt has to actual find some clumsy way of bringing it to his attention that “there’s no TV in this room… or in the whole hotel”.
Mr. Rogers’ opened up a can of whoopass and turned the air blue with vulgarities you wouldn’t think he knew.


What he did was actually worse for CANDID CAMERA. He said “That’s perfectly alright… I sometimes watch the news but that’s all and I wasn’t going to watch that tonight” and sweetly waits for the bellman to leave. Funt, not knowing what to do at a guest who couldn’t care less (i.e. no punchline or payoff… and it’s MR. ROGERS, the celebrity prankee!) basically makes a comment about how he can’t understand how anybody can watch television because it’s stars are all self-absorbed and the writing is vapid, evidently trying to bait him, but Mr. Rogers behaved like… Mr. Rogers, basically saying “Well, I don’t know the stars personally, but I could live happily without a television set forever probably, so for tonight it’s no problem at all” and gives another sweet grandfatherly “You can leave whenever you’re ready” smile. Funt, not able to get any rise at all, starts saying things like “You look familiar… aren’t you that guy who was arrested on the news the other night?” and he responds “No, if you have children or watch children’s television you probably know me as Mr. Rogers” with another Christlike “you can leave— I’m not going to be rude or in any way show irritation but neither are you needed here”. When Funt said “Mister… Rogers… not familiar” he responded with “It’s a PBS children’s show, which is why I’m here. I hope I don’t seem rude but I would like to take a nap before dinner if you don’t mind” and that’s as “whoop ass” as the old man got.
When told that he was on Candid Camera Mr. Rogers said “Oh… how funny” (no change of expression, then) “That show is still on?”
Mr. Rogers being Mr. Rogers basically gave them absolutely nothing to work with. They had to add in canned laughter.

While not a prank I’ll mention it just because it’s an innocuous TV moment that went awry. A contestant named Will Wright was on Wheel of Fortune in 2002, won $48,000, and Pat Sajak congratulated him with a hug. Wright later sued Sajak and Merv Griffin Productions for $2 million claiming it caused him back pain and left him unable to be physically affectionate to his children. (As much as I dislike Sajak for his pompous editorials, this was ridiculous- I honestly don’t think Sajak could do me $2 million worth of injury if he used a baseball bat.)

I’ve always wanted to see Boiling Point’s reactions of people who didn’t make it to the end. MTV aired the segments so the marks must’ve signed the release.

Keith Moon once set up an explosive device in his drum kit and set it off right behind Pete Townshend, who never quite regained his hearing the same way. It only got worse as time went on, of course, but that really jacked him up.



I could be wrong, but I think Dave’s comment about the knife was a humorous exaggeration of an incident that they did actually show on air a few years ago.

IIRC, Rupert was in deli, taking instructions from Dave via the wireless earpiece, and Dave told him to make a smart remark to another customer. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I do recall that it ended with, “you hump.” The guy got really mad, grabbed Rupert, and was about to hit him when a Late Show security guy stepped in. I don’t think there really was a knife, but Rupert was visibly shaken.

After that, Rupert stopped doing those bits until this recent bunch.

Did you listen to the sound clip of that? That shit is rough.

There was the “This is Your Life” segment with Angie Dickinson where she walked off the set instantly after being told “This is your life” leaving the host and all the lined up people from her life behind.

Here’s a link with the story

That’s a seriously awesome story. :smiley:

It’s like some zen-like jujitso. He doesn’t actually do anything, and thereby does everything. The opponent’s momentum is used against him.

The Man Show Boy is easily the one person in this genre that made me want to throw something at the TV. Pranks are fine, but insulting 80 year old women for no reason? Not cool. The only thing that made it tolerable was knowing that when the show went off the air he would sink back into oblivion and is now a has been probably eating himself to death in his parents basement. And yes I blame the show, but he was old enough to know better.

There was a lawsuit a couple of years back regarding Scare Tactics.

Of course there was that show where they pretend to accidentally strip naked a man but in reality they pulled too hard and also remove his boxer shorts in the process. :eek:

IIRC, Dave asked Rupert what had happened previously and it was Rupert who flatly stated that a guy pulled a knife. Not a joke from Dave.