Kids are hysterical. At least a dozen times a day my child says something completely ridiculous that makes me shake my head, spit out my drink or literally fall to the floor with laughter. People have made millions simply by videotaping the adorable things that come out of those little mouths. (Hi Mr. Cosby!)
And after four years as a mother, I’ve learned that you don’t have to prompt kids to get a funny answer. You don’t have to put them in compromising circumstances. You don’t have to lie to them, trick them or play a prank. All you have to do is listen to them.
Maybe that’s why I’m a little disgusted with Jimmy Kimmel lately. On his late night show, the comedian has created a recurring sketch where he basically tricks young kids and then invites his audience to laugh at their discomfort or tears. First there was Halloween, where he challenged viewers to tell children that they ate all their kids Halloween candy and watch them break into hysterics. Then there was Christmas, where viewers gave kids a horrible present and recorded their disappointed reactions. And let’s not forget the fun that was Silverstone-ing your kids by giving them pre-chewed food to eat.
Now, Kimmel has decided to stop letting his viewers have all the fun and reduce kids to tears himself. This time, he hooked a little boy up to a fake lie detector test and got to admit to peeing in the swimming pool. The child honestly looks like he wants to die.
So the whole shtick is to make kids extremely upset and then laugh at their feelings. That’s… awful. I’m sorry, but it’s cruel. And even more than that, it’s unnecessary. Kids can be funny and entertaining without bursting into tears. Making kids cry and then laughing about it is like aiming for the lowest form of a joke there is. It doesn’t take intelligence or imagination, it takes a mean streak.
See the video for yourself and let me know whether you think Kimmel is comedic genius or completely cruel.