It's amazing what people will do for $10,000.
Okay, maybe it's not so amazing. Maybe it's just appalling.
"America's Funniest People," ABC's latest Let's-See-Folks-Make-Fools-of-Themselves television show that awards $10,000 each week to the biggest goofball, came to Fraternity Row at the University of Maryland yesterday to film some Funny People.
Here's what they found:
Two Beta Theta Pi brothers spitting hunks of raw hot dog at each other -- and catching them in the mouth.
A human rooster. Authentic moves and crowing. Very red hair.
Helicopterman. Three baseball caps, the bills skewed to look like a rotor. He leapt and spun.
A Rasta dog. Cornrowed fur.
A human Lawrence Welk bubble machine. Don't ask.
The film crew of five set up in the middle of the empty quad at noon. This was their third Maryland stop in three days. The object was to get as many stupid human tricks on film as possible. From there, it's whittled down to a bunch of short clips, called "bumpers," that lead into commercials, plus a handful of complete routines. Everything, they say, is eligible to make it onto the show. Good impressions. Bad jokes. The funky chicken. Even flatulence.
"Last week we had a guy win on the show who played his body," said segment producer and director Michael Dinsmore, thumping his torso like Tarzan. "He won $10,000."
This is prime-time TV, folks.
At Saturday's auditions in Baltimore, Dinsmore said, "we had a woman who brushed her teeth and then had her dog jump up and lick off the suds.
"We also had a dog who sang 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' " he said. "The owner started -- you know -- 'Rwoo Rwoo-Rwoo Rwoo Rwoo Rwoooooo Rwoo.' Then the dog joined in."
Dogs are an important and somewhat reliable prop when it comes to being funny. Take Brute, the ancient black Labrador who let his owner, Kappa Alpha brother Geoff Carlton, dress him up in dark sunglasses, a cornrow wig and a neon-colored bike cap.
"Hey, Brute," called out Carlton, "you make Lassie look like a wuss." Then there was the black Lab who pulled his owner on a skateboard. The college version of dog sledding. The duo went tearing down the drive at a good 25 mph.
"Man, he was cookin'!" declared Dinsmore when the pair went sailing by.
"That dog's insane, man," said sound man P.J. Wilkinson. "Totally nuts."
As Clive Ewing and Dave Straume spat hot dogs at each other, a herd of fellow hung-over Betas, many with plastic cups filled with Hair O' the Dog, chanted and cheered and encouraged the joust.
"Boy, your mother's gonna be proud of you, Clive!"
"Good projectile! Good projectile!"
Ewing and Straume dived for those dogs. They did body rolls. Skinned their knees. Ate the dirt. And caught at least 50 percent of them -- dust, saliva and all.
For their pie`ce de re'sistance, they did a double hit: Both spit, both caught.
"That was unbelievable!" shouted producer Dinsmore. "This is what makes great TV entertainment!"