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    When I was three years old my father taught me how to swing a baseball bat. He also taught me how to hide a microphone in a shoeshine box.
    When I was 16 my father taught me how to drive a stick shift. That same year he taught me how to cleverly divert people's attention from the bright lights needed for television.
    In truth I kept learning from my father right up until his death. And I hope I've learned enough to continue the Candid Camera tradition just the way he would have wanted.
    But why a microphone in a shoeshine box? Well, that was my first Candid Camera stunt. Allen Funt sent his three-year-old son out on the streets of New York to see if people would accept a shine at the scandalously exorbitant rate of $10 per shoe. The laughs that day were few, but I made up my mind right then to learn all I could about my dad's unusual business.
    Sometimes I listened too closely. For several years I thought the sound technician was named "Rollum." After all, that's what my father always called out to him when they were ready to shoot a scene.
    As I got older, and had a chance to take part in dozens of Candid Camera sequences, I began to understand the more important things my father was teaching. "Don't put someone in a situation that you wouldn't want to be in yourself," he'd always caution. "We never want to cross the line and make people look bad."
    Another lesson: Don't abuse authority. If you set up a power mismatch—say, boss versus employee, or teacher versus student—you can get people to do almost anything, from standing on their heads to squawking like chickens. It may make an audience laugh briefly, but it's a cheap trick.
    And: It's not enough to act like you care about people; you've really got to feel it. Focus on what makes people tick—the wonders of the human condition—and the laughs will certainly follow.
    Not to be overlooked: We can learn a lot from kids and continue to include them in Candid Camera. But we talk to them on their own level, and never talk down.
    Then there was a bit of advice that came clear in 1966 when former Miss America Bess Meyerson replaced Durwood Kirby as cohost. It helps to have a partner who's prettier than you are. (I'm lucky to have found Suzanne Somers and Dina Eastwood—smart, funny women who aren't bad looking either.)
    My father taught me that Candid Camera will never become old, as long as we turn up fresh faces and timely topics for each week's show.
    He often said: "On Candid Camera, the unsuspecting person is the star. When he or she is in the spotlight, keep quiet and listen carefully."
    Most of all, my father taught me to smile. You couldn't ask for a better lesson.

About Candid Camera | Peter Funt | Mayim Bialik
Candid Tricksters | Allen Funt
"Things My Father Taught Me" | Little Richard's 'Candid' Song
Frequently Asked Questions

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Candid Camera  •  PO Box 827  •  Monterey, CA 93942