April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re grabbing it right by the balls. Every day for the entire month, we will be publishing a new story aimed at getting men to better consider — and cherish — their family jewels in hopes of helping prevent a diagnosis that, if caught early enough, shouldn’t prove fatal. Read everything here.
I’m not a fan of showing anyone a work in progress. I believe that when something is published, all of the puzzle pieces should be there. Sometimes, however, it just cannot be helped. Such is the case with my goal of determining precisely how many nut shots appeared on America’s Funniest Home Videos during the Bob Saget era.
This all started a few months ago when Saget — who, like many others in their 30s, was a big part of my childhood — died unexpectedly back in January. I began binging old bits of his stand-up on YouTube and stumbled upon a 2019 show called Videos After Dark, a pilot for what was meant to be an edgier version of America’s Funniest Home Videos. The show was a bit lackluster, but Saget said something in his opening monologue that caught my attention. He explained that, when he hosted the original America’s Funniest Home Videos from 1989 to 1997, “There was no YouTube; there was no internet. If you wanted to watch a video of a guy getting hit in the nuts back then, you had to go through me. I was the gatekeeper of the nut hit.”
This felt absolutely correct, but how could I quantify his claim and prove him right beyond a shadow of a doubt? At first, it seemed possible, as it appeared as though every episode of the show was available on YouTube. So I made a spreadsheet to track all 188 episodes that Saget hosted and went searching for groin shots.
I started with the pilot, which was an hour-long special made as a proof of concept for the series. Producer Vin Di Bona had gotten the idea for America’s Funniest Home Videos at a conference where he saw an episode of the Japanese show Fun TV with Kato-chan and Ken, in ehich Japanese viewers mailed in their home videos for laughs. Di Bona created an American adaptation for ABC and Saget, the new star of Full House, was chosen as the host.
The pilot is pretty much what the show would become — Saget affecting a cheeseball persona and introducing funny home videos starring babies, animals, people falling down and, of course, dudes getting hit in the balls. In fact, it only took four clips before the first nut shot took place. It featured, “Kevin Riley from Evergreen Park, Illinois,” who was playing baseball with his two kids. The kid who was pitching threw a beachball while the batter stood next to Riley. The batter swung hard and missed, hitting Riley square in the nuts with a plastic Wiffle ball bat.
The pilot featured a second nut shot as well — a golfer who was hitting toward the camera. There must have been a tree or a wall nearby because as soon as he hit the ball, it came right back and smacked him in the nads.
Interestingly, both of those nut shots also ran in the closing credits montage. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should count them as two hits or four, but I eventually decided upon four. As far as I’m concerned, a nut shot is a nut shot is a nut shot.
After the pilot, I tracked down all 15 episodes of Season One. Including the pilot, they featured 32 hits to the balls, which cleanly averaged out to two hits per episode. I also watched the half-hour behind-the-scenes “Inside Look” at the show, which had aired after the first season. It featured six more nut shots, bringing the total to 38.
Along the way, I started to notice some patterns. For one, some episodes featured no nut shots at all, which surprised me. But maybe more surprisingly, ball-hitting videos almost never won the grand prize given out for the episode’s best video — that distinction usually went to clips with animals and babies. By my count, in all 79 episodes of the show I’d eventually watch, only one nut shot ever won the grand prize, and it was more of a nut crunch than a nut shot. Here it is, from Season Eight, a man getting his nuts crunched by a kangaroo that’s pawing at his genitals:
Watching that first season, I also had to set some parameters on what constituted a nut shot and what didn’t. For example, what about a man who lights his nuts on fire? Or a man who falls off a bike? I had to call those as I saw them by freeze-framing the videos to see if they grabbed their crotches afterwards. Because of such intricacies, I decided to broadly define a nut shot as some level of violence inflicted upon male genitalia.
This seemed like a good way to include any fire-setting and kangaroo-crunching action that I might otherwise be forced to ignore with a narrower definition.
The bigger problem was that I hit a snag in Season Two. Six of the 25 episodes were nowhere to be found online, and this only got worse as I went on. For Seasons Three through Seven, there were less than five episodes per season that were available online, and for Season Eight, Saget’s final year, there were only nine episodes out of the 30 episodes filmed. There were also some episodes that were online, but unlabeled, so I counted them but I didn’t know which seasons they belonged in.
Because of all those missing episodes, I realized that my goal of determining exactly the number of groin hits Saget presided over was going to be impossible. Still, given that I’d watched over 30 total hours of the show, I could at least determine the average number of nut shots per episode. Then, I could apply that amount to the overall number of episodes. Admittedly, it wasn’t perfect, but it was something.
Most standard episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos had anywhere from zero to four nut shots. The most in a regular episode was six. There were also a couple of hour-long specials that had a good deal more than that. For instance, the special with animals and kids had nine hits to the balls while the “Salute to Boneheads” had a stunning 14. Altogether, I watched 79 episodes and found 129 nut shots, or 1.63 nut shots per episode. Saget hosted 188 episodes and at least three specials, for a total of 191 episodes. Taking that number and multiplying by 1.63 equals 311.33, which I’ll round down to 311.
So my best guess is that there were approximately 311 nut shots during Saget’s entire run of America’s Funniest Home Videos.
While that covers the math, I think it’s in the spirit of the series to share some of the highlights from my journey as well.
Just about every different kind of sports ball comes into contact with a nutsack in the show, but there were two sports that were the most dangerous: baseball (10 nut shots) and golf (five nut shots).
A few mascots were also punched in the balls by truly horrible children. One was Bullwinkle. Another was Mickey Mouse. But the best was a bear that got it bad from a little asshole who seemed to have a vendetta against him.
In terms of the tables being turned, if you’re in the mood for animals attacking testicles, there were clips of dogs, pigs, goats, geese and the aforementioned kangaroo all going for the family jewels:
As for the most painful-looking hit, I’d say it was this one where an entire canoe lands on a guy’s balls:
Or this one, where a man was bit in the balls — or dick — by his chihuahua:
Finally, I present to you my favorite nut shot from the whole series (that I saw anyway). It’s not the most painful, but I like it because it’s the most cinematic. It featured a skier, and rather than get hit by a ball or a tree, the camera itself inflicts the injury.
It’s the kind of clip, I think, Bob Saget himself might have enjoyed, as it involves that sort of perfectly timed happenstance that made America’s Funniest Home Videos so memorable. It also reminded me that, even without getting a definitive answer to my quandary, I could at least enjoy the journey and still honor Saget’s memory. Thanks for the laughs, Bob, and, most of all, thanks for all the nut shots.