‘AFV’ hosting job is a natural fit for Alfonso Ribeiro

Most of each episode of the “America’s Funniest Home Videos” is scripted for host Alfonso Ribeiro. That includes the clever introductions to the video clips sent in by viewers in hopes of winning $10,000 and the commentary Ribeiro delivers during and after each funny on-screen moment. 

One thing not written ahead of time for the 47-year-old host is the final interview Ribeiro does with the family whose home video has been deemed funnier than the two other contenders by a vote of the studio audience. Adults are just happy they have a thicker wallet. Where Ribeiro earns his money is in the impromptu chats with the younger members of a family. Often, the children are too young to even understand what has just happened.

Ribeiro has been dealing with those moments since taking over the hosting duties in 2015 after Tom Bergeron ended a 15-year stint hosting the show. To make the interview with the winning family come across as honest and unscripted as possible, Ribeiro never meets any of the finalists ahead of time. The only information he is given is a little history of the three videos.

His approach to dealing with the interview is to just be himself.

“For me, it’s just doing my natural thing,” Ribeiro says. “I love to connect with people. I love to talk to people. I love to make people feel warm. I always feel like when we have an opportunity to make someone feel special and make someone feel at home and comfortable, that’s what I want.

“When I’m on TV, my first thought always is that I want people to smile. I want people to have fun, be relaxed and enjoy themselves.”

Ribeiro was making people smile long before he took on the “America’s Funniest Home Videos” hosting duties. The New York native has been working as an actor, TV director, award-winning dancer and Broadway star for more than 30 years.

He began his career as a child actor, most notably playing the lead role in the Tony Award-winning musical “The Tap Dance Kid.” His leap to TV came when Ribeiro was cast opposite Ricky Schroder in the long-running NBC sitcom “Silver Spoons.” But it was his 1990 NBC series, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” that gave him the most fame. The same year Ribeiro and Will Smith were starring in the launch of “Bel-Air,” ABC debuted “American’s Funniest Home Videos” as a regular weekly series with Bob Saget as the host.

“America’s Funniest Home Videos” is the longest-running prime-time entertainment show in the history of ABC. Each week, thousands of user-submitted home videos are evaluated to put together the show. Each week, three are singled out and the families attended the taping. They are not allowed to be in the audience until the three finalists are announced, so there’s no way they can sway audience voting before the winner is selected.

Before the finalists are announced, Ribeiro has been able to predict the winner 70-80 percent of the time. Don’t worry if that percentage is far larger than your ratio of predictions. Ribeiro explains he has an advantage over the viewer in that he can watch the reaction of the studio audience when the clips are being played.

“If I see they are laughing at this kind of video or that kind of video then I know that will give a similar video an upper hand,” Ribeiro says.

Predicting the winner is tough enough, but the task of guessing which of the videos shown during the one-hour program will be the finalists is far more challenging. Ribeiro won’t talk in great detail as to how the three finalists are selected, but he stresses one of the biggest factors is whether or not their video is unique.

Being a finalist and a winner can be very lucrative as those who win the weekly competitions on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” move on to the next competition round, where they vie for a $100,000 prize. At the end of the season, the $100,000 prize winners compete for a grand prize vacation package. Through the first 29 seasons of the show, more than $15 million in prize money has been awarded to those selected from nearly two million videos sent in by home viewers.

Hosting the show has been a great job for Ribeiro.

“Working on this show definitely leaves the door open for me to go off and do other jobs,” Ribeiro says. “It gives me the ability to go play in other arenas if that is something I want to do. It’s a great gig because I get to laugh with my kids while basically working.”

"America's Funniest Home Videos" airs at 7 p.m. Sundays on ABC.


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