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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Elderly with a Hidden Camera

Betty White, seminal overexposed veteran of the small screen and near-nonagenarian, has emerged from her temporary (three months, was it?) seclusion to announce a new show. She'll be pranking old people, for our entertainment, on NBC.

I adore Betty White, but the past year or so has made me wish she'd take up knitting (temporarily!) because at 89 she's almost as omnipresent as Kardashians and Jersey Shorians, and I don't think the Betty White brand should be sold so cheaply. She's not a media event--she's a well-respected workhorse of entertainment. I mean, Angela Lansbury is almost as busy with various projects, but I don't see her visage in a banner ad when I go to

Anyway. I'm of two minds about Ms. White's new show, and those two minds are that it is a horrible idea since old people are cranky and probably won't like being punk'd, and depending on the prank may either stroke or have a heart attack. Or! It's a wonderful idea for a show, since Betty White has always been more Sue Ann Nivens than Rose Nylund--she's a sadistic bitch with an angelic smile, and this will be the 'Murder She Wrote' of the aging Baby-Boomer generation.

So I've come up with a few suggested pranks for Ms. White's new show. Based on my stereotyped observations of old people.

1). The "corpse in the coffin is really alive" joke is played out. But! Old people love going to funerals. I have it on good authority (Junior Soprano's, actually) that it's one of the few social engagements they can count on. So let's up the ante, Ms. White. Elderly Person's best friend "dies." Elderly Person attends the funeral. During the eulogy, Best Friend pops up out of the coffin, yells "Gotcha!" While Elderly Person is dealing the existential verities of life, the undead Best Friend fakes a heart attack and pretends to die for real. The other mourners at the funeral, who are all in on the joke, wail and scream and then... you, Ms. White, emerge from a hidden spot beneath the altar to comfort Elderly Person by saying, "Gotcha again!" Hilarious!

2). "We've replaced Ed Clavitt's heart medication with Viagra, and Thelma Clavitt's estrogen pills with Ambien. Let's watch."

3). Ms. White, whatever you do, do not hire actors to pretend to be Elderly Person's family only to convince Elderly Person that s/he has Alzheimer's. That's just cruel. It might be better to replace Elderly Person with an actor, then see if the family notices.

4). Replacing Elderly Person's Polygrip with Super Grip.

5.) Elderly Person Twister, but make it old-school. Rather than the primary colors, use a mat that's black-and-white. Tell the participants it's the original 'Twister' directed by George Cuckor rather than the terrible remake with Helen Hunt and that guy from 'Big Love.'

6). Tell them Englebert Humperdink is dead:

7). Force a perfectly rational, active, loving Elderly Person into a Home. Imagine how the audience will laugh when they watch Elderly Person try to eat strained peas with a fork! Imagine how the audience will laugh when they see Elderly Person need to go to the bathroom, only to be confronted with the choice of using the bed pan or the actual bed!

8). Hidden camera shots of an old man in a diner, sending back cold soup for warm soup. The waitress takes the soup away, returns with colder soup. Hilarity ensues.

A final thought: Ms. White, the indignities of aging suck. While it is a fun idea to bring the old people down to an Ashton Kutcher level, please remember that you're not Ashton Kutcher.

(But I guess modern society views humiliation as a sign of usefulness. Look at Rebecca Black, Britney Spears, the Tea Party, Joe Biden....).

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