Kids Say the Darndest Things

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Art Linkletter learns that kids "really do say the damnedest things!"

Kids Say the Darndest Things was an American television show starring Bill Cosby. It was based on Art Linkletter's House Party, starring Art Linkletter. The show had a simple-minded format: the host (originally Linkletter, followed by Cosby) would ask a young child an asinine question, and the child would respond with an equally asinine answer, often while picking his or her nose. The whole show was based upon the cliché that, asked a stupid question, one is apt to respond with a stupid answer. Neither the host nor the children disappointed viewers, as each question-answer series was stupider than the one before it.

edit Americans' love of stupidity

As unbelievable as it may seem, the show lasted more than one episode and even spawned a British imitation, Kids Say the Funniest Things (later syndicated as Kids Say the Dandiest Things). The original Linkletter show aired five nights a week, from 1945 to 1970. Television audiences couldn’t get enough stupidity in their daily lives, apparently. Mindless shows such as Kids Say the Darndest Things continue to earn high marks among critics and high ratings from viewers, as did the Bob Saget series, America’s Stupidest Home Videos, which was mostly about people falling down.

edit Startling revelations

Sometimes, kids are stupid enough to incriminate their parents, biting the hands that feed them, so to speak. Police and Child Protective Service personnel are said to have comprised "huge portions" of the shows' audience. A now-retired CPS worker, Bertha Butt, said, "I wouldn't miss an episode. Those shows were my job security."

edit Linkletter kid's allegation

Linkletter’s show, which was filmed in Burbank, California, was milder than Cosby’s, which was filmed in New York City’s Harlem. Asked what his daddy did to earn a living for his family, a white boy, Christopher Lovelace, said, “Daddy makes pornographic films.” “What does your mommy think about that?” Linkletter followed up. “You mean Linda? She’s the star.” Linkletter looked into the camera, a well-rehearsed look of surprise and amusement on his face, and said, “Kids really do say the damnedest--I mean, the darndest--things.”

edit Cosby kid's allegation


Bill Cosby interviews an adorable, pint-size black kid

Cosby’s version of the show aired in the late 1990’s. Neither it nor Linkletter’s predecessor saw fit to call the show Kids Say the Damnedest Things, despite the such a title’s being obviously more appropriate. On one episode, Cosby asked a young black boy what his daddy did to earn a living for his family. “He sell crack,” the boy replied. Looking shocked, Cosby asked what the boy's mommy thought of his daddy’s occupation. The boy replied, “She the crack he be selling.”

edit Rock's proposal declined


Chris Rock swearing at a child on the plot for his would-be version of the show, Kids Say the Most F***ed-up Things

Comedian Chris Rock reportedly toyed with reviving the show as his career, if he ever had one, continues to decline so rapidly that Cosby describes it as “taking a nosedive.” However, none of the networks or even the cable channels would agree to let Rock pepper the airwaves with profanity and obscenity in front of children. Despite the failed comedian’s insistence that “these jive-ass punks talk shit all the time. Every other word out they mouth is piss or f*** [expletive deleted],” TV producers refused to allow the use of swear words in front of children. “F*** them jive-ass sons-of-bitches, then,” Rock told his agent. “I don’t be censoring myself for nobody!”

edit Mad Magazine's feature

Mad Magazine featured an occasional piece in its pages called “Mad’s Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions,” but discontinued the item after real life became too absurd to parody. “Someone said, ‘No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public,’” the magazine’s publisher, Alfred E. (“What Me Worry?”) Newman said, “but we were, so we pulled the feature. The American public is just too stupid for our own good.”

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