AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS Interview: Alfonso Ribeiro previews the show’s long life and re-retiring The Carlton
As a member of the generation that grew up watching SILVER SPOONS and THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR, there was barely a week that went by where I didn’t see Alfonso Ribeiro on my TV. As his career continued, and he took on various hosting duties and tackled DANCING WITH THE STARS (coming out of it with the coveted mirror ball trophy), I’ve continued to enjoy watching his career grow and change. This season, he has taken over as the host of AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS, a show we’ve all been watching for almost three decades. As Season 26 continues tonight, Alfonso and I had a chance to talk about what changes come with bringing in a new host, the longevity of both his career and his iconic dance move, and what keeps this show alive all these years later. Check it out!
The big question, taking over such an iconic show – what was the process in getting involved / becoming the host?
I’ve obviously hosted many shows before. This was clearly the biggest and the greatest of all of the jobs that I’ve been able to host. The way that it simply happened, after DANCING WITH THE STARS, after I’d won, the heads of the network asked me to come in and meet with them and they asked me “What do you want to do?” and there was a poster of Tom on the wall in the office and I said, well, honestly, that. I want to do AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS. I knew that Tom was leaving; he had already announced that he was stepping down as host and I heard that people were meeting to be the host and I said to me, that was the perfect job. It’s truly family entertainment; I’m all about family, so I really wanted to make sure that I had the opportunity there. Interestingly enough, they go, well, that’s the show that we wanted to talk to you about, so it was like “PERFECT! Then we’re here together!”
It helps that you and Tom have a relationship, knowing each other from DWTS. Was there a conversation between him and you about taking over, what to expect?
It was simple. Tom actually publicly stated to everyone that if there was someone that he would vote to take his place, then it would be me. And so that was such a boost of confidence and then privately with me, he said, just be yourself. Just do what you do, and you will be absolutely fine. That’s what I’ve been doing; I’ve just been myself. Just trying to maintain me on that stage.
You get a sense from your years in the business that when you are hosting something, for example, that it’s how you are. You are yourself. That’s such an important part of your longevity.
I’ll say this! When I’m acting, I’m fully acting and I’m being a completely different person. So the person that people think they know is the Carlton character, not me [laughs]. But since then, I’ve done a nice job, in all of my hosting stuff, to truly be me, and not be some sort of character on that stage. It truly is just me. The thing is, when you’re doing that, it’s easy to be consistent. You’re not like, well wow, he’s not really doing his thing today. Well, I’m doing me today, so it’s okay! I can be a little different each day and it works great for what you’re doing. But yes, through the years and all of my hosting, I’ve absolutely been me, and when I’m acting, I’m playing a character, but someone that America has loved equally in different ways.
Talking about the show and how it’s been on the air for so long, going through a few hosts over the years – why do you think that AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS is a show that’s still on the air, and still so beloved? I mean, I watch an episode and can randomly find myself crying of laughter!
I think you just nailed it right there. You’re laughing so hard still! Typically, when shows go away, well what’s the reason that shows go off the air? Typically, it’s the reason that it’s no longer funny, or it’s too expensive to produce, or people have changed their minds and are going somewhere else, or the people who are doing it don’t want to do it anymore. Those are the only reasons that shows go off the air. This show, everyone who has done it, loved doing it. Obviously, Tom has left, but the show and the concept work and it’s funny, and people still laugh. I laugh. I laugh while doing it, I laugh while preparing for it, I laugh all of the time, and people are still laughing at the show; that’s why people are still tuning in. Because it is AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS. It isn’t America’s Videos That Used To Be Funny [laughs].
It’s a show you can watch with your family, too. I grew up watching it, now my family watches together. There’s a bit of nostalgia there, too.
Absolutely! There’s something about now, where people are really connecting back to the things that they grew up with. It’s really interesting. It’s why I feel like this show is kind of perfect for me. This show started the year before FRESH PRINCE did. And so, the whole run of FRESH PRINCE, especially in syndication, and the entire run of AFV have kind of almost been in lockstop over the years, so the generation of people that were watching AFV and FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR back in the day, it’s like, oh, it’s come together again, and now here it is, 25, 26 years later, together again. People can go back and remember those feelings and still connect to those feelings but in a new way.
It sounds like “The Carlton” makes an appearance this weekend!
“The Carlton” is making an appearance here on episode 5 of this season. Paying a little love back to all of the fans who have supported me through the years, and why not have a little fun on the show? Get it out of the way, so that I can retire it again. [laughs].
When you first did it, 26 years ago, did you ever imagine that it would become this iconic thing?
I had never trained in any form of dance, not really a dancer, so clearly wouldn’t be able to have the perspective to know that something like this, 25, 26 years later, would still be around! But very cool that it is.
When you see these videos, as you’re hosting or preparing, what makes you laugh the most? For me, it’s watching people fall down.
You and I are the same then! We call it “Epic Fails.” I love watching people trying something that they really shouldn’t be trying to do.
I’ve watched compilations where people faint, and I’m just cry-laughing. Sometimes the simplest thing will get you!
It really is funny! I will say that the baby videos are starting to catch up, since watching the show on the regular, being there every week, the baby videos are cool. I will say that ultimately is still the Epic Fails.
Is there anything that you’re introducing as the new host that is a little different, or is there something that you want to try as the host of the show to bring in?
I don’t think there’s anything that I simply want to do. I’m kind of riding this and going where the writers take us. What the writers have been doing, and this was great, because at the last taping, we did something, where in between some of our wraps, I’ll talk to the audience and play around, and they took something that I literally did on stage, and wrote it into a wrap this week. These are some of the things that are starting to happen where they’re getting to know me as a person, they’re getting to know the things that I do, things that I do well, and incorporating those things and ideas into the show, and every week we spend together, as we spend more time getting to know each other, it’s really just getting easier and easier for all of us!
AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS airs Sunday nights at 7/6c on ABC. For more info on the show, head to ABC’s AFV site!