Blooper

Blooper

[bloo-per]

A blooper usually describes a short sequence of a film or video production which contains a mistake made by a member of the cast or crew. These bloopers, or outtakes as they are also called, are often the subject of television shows or are occasionally revealed during the credit sequence at the end of comedy movies. (Jackie Chan and Burt Reynolds are both famous for including such reels with the closing credits of their movies.) Humorous mistakes made by athletes are often referred to as bloopers as well, particularly in baseball.

The collecting of bloopers (and the coining of the term; the word "boner" had been the common term for such errors previously) was popularized in America by television producer Kermit Schaefer in the 1950s. Schaefer produced a long-running series of Pardon My Blooper! record albums in the 50s and 60s which featured a mixture of actual recordings of errors from television and radio broadcasts, coupled with recreations. Schaefer also transcribed many reported bloopers into a series of books that he published up until his death in 1979.

Comedian Dick Emery showcased his own out-takes as an epilog entitled A Comedy of Errors to his BBC shows in the mid 1970s. The later British show It'll be Alright on the Night, which has been running on ITV since 1977, and hosted by Denis Norden showed out-takes from film and TV. The BBC's answer to the show, Auntie's Bloomers, presented by Terry Wogan (and its spin-off sporting-mistakes show, Auntie's Sporting Bloomers, also presented by Wogan), ran until approximately 2000, and was replaced by Out-Take TV, which began as 2 half-hour specials in 2002, hosted by Paul O'Grady. A series was commissioned and subsequently broadcast on BBC One during the summer of 2004, but this time hosted by Anne Robinson. The main difference between Out-Take TV and Auntie's Bloomers is that whilst out-takes on the latter were confined to the BBC archive, the former shows clips from across all five major British TV channels. Out-Take TV now appears in occasional one-off specials, much in the same way as It'll Be Alright on the Night. Special Weakest Link themed editions are a regular occurrence.

ITV has also produced two other shows, TV Nightmares, and TV's Naughtiest Blunders. Both were presented by Steve Penk at one stage, before the latter was changed to show wall-to-wall clips with voiceover by Neil Morrissey. The former also singled out certain TV personalities as they related some of their most hair-raising moments, whether live, out-take, or otherwise, whilst the latter was set aside for more risqué mistakes. The latter has also been criticised for being used as a simple schedule filler, often with ridiculously titled editions (e.g. "All New TV's Naughtiest Blunders 18").

During the 1982-83 season, TV producer Dick Clark revived the bloopers concept in America for a series of specials on NBC. This led to a weekly series which ran from 1984 through 1992 and was followed by more specials that appeared on ABC irregularly until as recently as 2004, still hosted by Clark. These specials (along with a record album of radio bloopers produced by Clark in the mid-1980s) were dedicated to the memory of Kermit Schaefer.

Clark suffered a stroke that year, and the blooper shows went on hiatus until 2007, when John O'Hurley hosted a Dick Clark Productions-packaged special for the ABC.

The success of both Clark's and Norden's efforts led to imitators on virtually all American and Australian TV networks, as well as scores of home video releases; many American productions are aired to fill gaps in prime time schedules. With the coming of DVD in the 1990s, it is now common for major film releases to include a "blooper reel" (also known as a "gag reel" or simply "outtakes") among the bonus material on the disc.

In 1985 a relatively unknown producer named Steve Rotfeld began compiling stock footage of various sports-related errors and mistakes and compiled them into a program known as Bob Uecker's Wacky World of Sports. The show is now known as The Lighter Side of Sports and is still in production today.

In the UK, lecturer Jonathan Hewat started collecting bloopers and producing short radio programmes of them on BBC Local Radio, he then sold cassettes of bloopers to raise money for the British Wireless for the Blind Fund. The collection was finally released as two CDs, again for the BWBF

Causes

Where actors need to memorize large numbers of lines or perform a series of actions in quick succession, mistakes can be expected. Similarly, newsreaders have only a short time to deliver a large amount of information - often from foreign countries - and are prone to mispronounce place names and people's names, or switch a name or word without realizing it, as in a slip-of-the-tongue or Freudian slip.

Some common examples include: uncontrollable laughter (called in television circles, corpsing), unanticipated incidents (i.e. a prop falling or breaking), forgotten lines, or deliberate sabotage of an actor's performance by a fellow actor (to evoke laughter).

The famous old chestnut of show business "Never work with children or animals" demonstrates two other causes of out-takes: Children, especially such who have no acting experience, often miss cues, deliver the wrong lines or make comments which are particularly embarrassing. Similarly, animals are very likely to do things not in the script.

A third type of blooper is caused by failure of inanimate objects. This can be as simple as a sound effect being mistimed or a microphone not working, but frequently involves doorknobs (and doors) not working or breaking, props and sets being improperly prepared, as well as props working in ways they should not work.

In recent years, mobile phones have been a new source of bloopers with them frequently going off. Many of them belong to actors, presenters and contestants who may have forgotten to turn them off or put in silent mode. The effect is especially pronounced when the film setting is before the modern era (e.g., Ancient Greece or Rome). However, this blooper is rarely seen in recent films but commonly used in fake bloopers for animations.

The reaction to bloopers is often intensified in the stressful environment of a movie or television set, with some actors expressing extreme annoyance while others enjoy the stress relief brought on by the unexpected event.

Examples of bloopers

One of the earliest known bloopers is attributed to 1930s radio broadcaster Harry Von Zell, who accidentally referred to then-US President Herbert Hoover as "Hoobert Heever" during an introduction. Reportedly it was upon hearing of this mistake that Kermit Schafer was inspired to begin collecting bloopers. (See also http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/radio/vonzell.asp)

One famous out-take from Australian television is from the gameshow Who Dares Wins, hosted by former cricketer Mike Whitney. The scene involved Whitney introducing a challenge by throwing a water balloon from hand to hand and delivering the line, "Remember when we were young, when we were kids, and we'd play with water balloons? You'd throw them all over the place and they'd burst and water would go everywhere". The out-takes of this scene, aired after the credits of the show, feature Whitney delivering the line in the following ways:

  • "Remember when we were young, when we were kids, when we were young, when we were kids, when we were young ..."
  • "Remember when we were young, when we were kids, and we'd play with water balloons? You'd throw them all over the place and they'd burst and water would go all over the place. [Pause] That's two all over the places."
  • "Remember when we were young, when we were kids, and we'd play with water balloons? You'd throw them all over the place and they'd burst and water would go everywhere everywhere." [Laughter]

On an episode of The Red Skelton Show in the 1950s, a skit involving Red's "country bumpkin" character "Clem Kadiddlehopper", had him leading a cow onto the stage. Several seconds into the skit, the cow defecated on-stage during the live broadcast. Whereupon the audience laughed uncontrollably, and Skelton resorted to the use of the ad-lib, saying "Boy, she's a great cow! Not only does she give milk, {pause} she gives Pet-Ritz Pies!" He followed up with, "Why didn't you think of that earlier?", "You know, your breath stinks, too!" and finally, "Well, it's just like the psychiatrists say, {long pause} Get it out of your system!" Red then finally broke into laughter, and the network cut to a commercial. The clip can be seen here.

A much-bootlegged recording of Bing Crosby has him singing to a recording of a band playing "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams", when he realizes that the master tape had not been fully rewound, and ad-libbed vocals to the truncated music. He begins, "Castles may tumble, that's fate after all/ Life's really funny that way." Realizing the shortened music, he ad-libs, "Sang the wrong melody, we'll play it back/ See what it sounds like, Hey Hey!/ They cut out eight bars, the dirty bastards/ I didn't know which eight bars he was gonna cut/ Why don't somebody tell me these things around here?/ Holy Christ, I'm goin' off my nut!" This recording was first made available to the public by Kermit Schaefer in Volume 1 of his Pardon My Blooper album series for Jubilee Records in the late 1950s.

On the Wild Bill Hickok radio series in the early 1950s, a newsflash caused an unexpected blooper when it broke into the show. With sound effects providing the sound of horses' hoofs galloping and guns firing, Guy Madison spoke the line "Cut him off at the pass, Jingles!" Whereupon an announcer interrupted with, "We interrupt this program to bring you a bulletin from the Mutual newsroom in New York! According to an announcement from Moscow radio, Lavrenti Beria, former head of the Soviet secret police, has just been executed! We now return you to Wild Bill Hickok." At this point, Andy Devine (as Jingles) was delivering the line "Well, that oughta hold him for a little while!"

In a similar vein, New York children's radio show host "Uncle Don" supposedly delivered the ad-libbed line "Are we off? Good ... I guess that'll hold the little bastards" after signing off on his show one night, thinking his studio microphone was switched off. As a discredited urban legend has it, the remarks went to air, eventually leading to the show's cancellation and "Uncle Don"'s disgrace. The alleged incident was even parodied in the 1993 Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled". However, according to the debunking website Snopes.com, not only did the alleged incident never happen, the much distributed recording of the incident was a fabrication.

An episode of the radio drama Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons was presumably introduced as "Mr. Keen, Loser of Traced Persons."

An announcer delivering the billboard for a newscast rendered it "And now, stay stewed for the nudes" when he meant "...stay tuned for the news."

A CBS Television documentary on marijuana was introduced with this presumed billboard: "Stay tuned for a CBS News Special Report on marijuana. {pause} Get the habit--Stay tuned to this channel."

A popular story among Texas broadcasting circles has it that a station manager's late change in programming from Les Brown's orchestra to a religious programme marking the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur led to the staff announcer's billboard urging his listeners to "Stay tuned for the dance music of Yom Kippur's Orchestra."

A radio commercial for A&P food stores ended with the announcer excitedly blurting out "...and be sure to visit your nearby A & Food P Store!" In much the same vein was an ad for instant tea as came out in the end "Instant White Rose, hot or cold--Orange Tekoe Pee" and a bread company advertising itself as having "the breast bed and rolls you ever tasted--I knew that would happen one night, friends," all the while breaking out in fits of uncontrollable laughter trying to get the line right.

During the Davy Crockett mania of the mid-1950s, a radio ad for children's bedding cashing in on same had the line "--with scenes of Davy Crockett in action on the mattress," a clear example of how unintentional double-entendre can translate into blooper material.

A public-service announcement urging young women to volunteer as nurses during a critical shortage thereof ended with the appeal "Volunteer to be one of America's white-clapped angels of mercy," confusing a slang term for infection with syphillis with "white-clad."

On a broadcast of a wrestling match in the 1950's, oft repeated on several of Kermit Schaefer's albums, the host's billboard of the feature match was inadvertently followed by someone asking directions for the men's room ("Hey, uh--Mac, where's the can?!")

A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio announcer's station-identification message once allegedly came out "This is the Dominion Network of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration," in turn coining an oft-used sarcastic term for the public broadcaster.

A radio adaptation of Don Quixote over the BBC had one episode ending with the announcer explaining where "I'm afraid we've run out of time, so here we leave Don Quixote, sitting on his ass, until tomorrow at the same time."

The American sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air had a tradition of airing out-takes over the closing credit sequence. Many of these involved malapropisms on the part of the cast, often lampooned by Will Smith. Additionally, Smith would reference black culture in setting up mistakes made by the rest of the cast. An example of this is when Uncle Phil (James L. Avery, Sr.) comments, "Well, it's not here. It must been stolen", before realising the line was "It must have been stolen" and correcting himself. Smith appears in the shot and, in an exaggerated accent, responds, "It must bin stolen. Y'all hear dat?"

Another sitcom, Home Improvement, also showcased out-takes over its closing credits.

Star Trek: The Original Series produced many famous out-takes, which were shown to the delight of fans at gatherings over the years and have been extensively bootlegged. One famous example shows actor Leonard Nimoy, who plays the supposedly emotionless Mr. Spock, breaking into laughter when, in the first season episode "This Side of Paradise", instead of saying the line "The plants act as a repository", says "The plants act as a suppository". In another out-take, series star William Shatner breaks character during a scene and starts complaining about the food served in the studio commissary. A third example begins with the third season episode "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", in which guest actress Diana Muldaur recited the line, "We've come to the end of an eventful...trip", to which Shatner replies, "I don't know what you've been taking..." -- a reference to the then-topical issue of drug-induced hallucinations or "trips". People bumping into supposedly automatic doors when the backstage personnel mistimed opening them was a common accident depicted. Similarly there were also mishaps while filming in exterior, with aircraft flying over supposedly alien planets.

Such Disney Channel shows as Lizzie McGuire and That's So Raven routinely include bloopers over the end credits.

Many theatrical motion pictures feature bloopers during the end credits. For example, many Jackie Chan movies end with footage of failed stunts, blown dialogue, and other mishaps; Chan was inspired to do this by Burt Reynolds' films of the early 1980s (in particular Smokey and the Bandit II and The Cannonball Run) that also featured end-credits bloopers. As an homage to its inspiration, the closing-credits blooper reel for Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy actually featured one outtake from Smokey and the Bandit II.

Pixar also has a tradition of including blooper-like material during the end credits of such films as Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life; the latter was at one point reissued to theatres with a major selling feature being the addition of extra "bloopers". Since Pixar's films are painstakingly computer-animated, making actual blunders of this sort impossible, these scenes are in fact staged. The makers of another computer-animated film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, likewise also created a faux blooper reel showing the characters playing practical jokes and, in one case, bursting into laughter when one "sneezes" during a dramatic sequence. Going back decades earlier, in 1939 Warner Bros. cartoon director Bob Clampett produced a short "blooper" film (for the studio's annual in-house gag reel) of Looney Tunes character Porky Pig smashing his thumb with a hammer and cursing.

The fishing television series Bill Dance Outdoors has produced four videos (two VHS and two DVD) focusing entirely on bloopers occurring during production of the show and associated commercials, often showing various mishaps such as missed lines (which sometimes take several takes to finally deliver correctly), accidents during filming (including falling into the water, being impaled with a fish hook, or equipment malfunctions), as well as practical jokes played on the host by his guests and film crew (and vice versa). Some of the outtakes shown on these videos would sometimes be shown over the end credits.

The Discovery Channel series MythBusters will often keep some bloopers included in the actual episodes, usually various mishaps that occur on the show, such as minor injuries suffered by the cast, or various other accidents and malfunctions, which are usually quite spectacular and/or embarrassing when they do occur.

One blooper for Back to the Future, which was intended as a practical joke, featured Michael J. Fox taking a drink from a prop bottle, which (unbeknownst to him) had real alcohol in it, causing him to spit it all over the car and co-star Lea Thompson.

Bloopers can even exist in [professional] pornographic videos. Examples include corpsing, forgotten lines, props malfunctioning, people getting in the way and sexual acts not being executed properly. The likelihood of a blooper occurring in pornography is higher than in regular acting, as many porn stars are not trained actors.

Acceptance of out-takes

The proliferation of out-takes/gag reels/blooper reels, especially on recent DVD releases, has received mixed response by actors and directors. While many don't mind the extra publicity offered by such material being shown to the public and others simply enjoy seeing the mistakes, other actors complain that out-takes are demeaning to themselves and/or the craft and refuse to allow them to be made public.

Director Hal Ashby's decision to include a blooper reel of star Peter Sellers in his 1979 film Being There, for example, is sometimes blamed for Sellers' failure to win that year's Academy Award for Best Actor (for which he was nominated). Sellers had reportedly urged Ashby not to include the outtakes in the final edit of the film, to no avail.

Among his other issues with Star Trek's producer Gene Roddenberry, Leonard Nimoy was not happy that Roddenberry showed the show's blooper reels to fans at conventions in the early 1970s. He felt actors needed to be free to make mistakes without expecting that they would be shown to the public, and wrote a letter to Roddenberry asking him to stop. Roddenberry's answer was to send Nimoy a blooper reel of his own should he have wished to show it at conventions.

Alternative definition

The term "blooper" is often applied to describe continuity errors and other mistakes that have escaped the notice of film editors and directors and have made it into a final, televised or released product, where these errors are subsequently identified by viewers. For example, in a film taking place in the Old West, a viewer might spot a twentieth century vehicle driving in the distance of one shot, or in a film taking place in ancient Greece, an actor may have forgotten to remove his wristwatch and it was caught on film. Or it might be a piece of clothing, such as shoes, that change for one shot then change back with no explanation. Strictly speaking, however, these are film errors, and not "bloopers" since they did not occur in outtake footage or a live broadcast. The Internet Movie Database website uses the term goofs instead.

References

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