martes, 24 de septiembre de 2013

Madrid Teacher Series: Do TV prank shows go to far?

Four people are discussing TV prank shows in today's installment of our Madrid Teacher series.

I find the conversation really interesting because it has a spontaneous ring to it, it's both conversational and entertaining, and help us focus on specific characteristics of spoken English.

Two weeks ago we paid attention to two features of spoken language on our entry Office Crime, 'You know?' (for the speaker to gain thinking time) and the listeners' reactions (with an aim to showing the speaker that they are listening). Pay attention to both features in today's video, although there are many more examples of the latter.

Today, in the first part of the video, the person telling the first anecdote wants to check that her audience understands what she's saying, and she uses the expressions 'Ok?', 'yeah?', 'alright?' to that purpose. We can also use some other expressions to check that our audience is paying attention to us or understands:
Is that clear?
[Do] you see what I mean?

Here it is the video clip the first speaker is talking about. A picture is worth one thousand words.
Blind man's dog takes nun's skirt

As a matter of fact, Just for Laughs, the Canadian TV show, is wonderful for English learners. Find a clip of your liking by typing in Just for Laughs in the search box on YouTube and describe it in as much detail as possible.

What TV shows featuring pranks are shown in your country?
Do you remember any specific pranks? Can you describe them?
What practical jokes are typical on April Fool's Day or on the Holy Innocents' Day?
Do pranks sometimes go too far?

Lesson idea:
Pair off students with one student in each pair with their back to the TV. Play a Just for Laughs video clip and the students watching the video are to describe it to their partners (you may pause it several times so that students can describe it as accurately as possible).

Vicky: I saw a TV show last night. I think it was called Just for Laughs, OK? And they had a trick where a blind man is walking his dog in the park. And as he approaches some toilets, some porta-loos, he asks a by-passer to take care of his guide dog for a moment while he uses the bathroom. So he gives the stranger his guide dog and his coffee, and disappears, OK? Erm, no sooner has he gone in, A nun walks past.
Bill: Oh dear, oh dear.
Barbara: Oh no!
Vicky: She gets perhaps twenty meters past the dog, and all of a sudden, it escapes from the harness, because the harness isn’t attached, runs straight off up to the nun, bites her, well, “bites” her. And on her habit, yeah? On the nun’s clothing, on her habit. As it does this, the nun goes, “Ooh!” and turns around with her hands in the air, and the habit comes off of her, in the dogs mouth. So she’s left standing with her underwear in the middle of the park, alright? Obviously, it’s a candid camera show. So the main focus at this point is looking at the person holding the dog, or not holding the dog anymore, ha ha…
Barbara: Should have been holding the dog.
Vicky: Ha ha ha, who was holding the dog, briefly, to watch their facial expressions. And usually it’s, I find it really, really funny because the person just ends up going…coffee, escape, toilet.
Barbara: [Yeah, some of them are really good.]
Bill: [Terror.]
Vicky: Ha ha ha, yeah. Have you seen any good shows, like that? Or got any good examples?
Bill: I remember The Beatles About. Do you remember that one, in the UK? Beatles About?
Vicky: Oh yeah!
Barbara: Oh, I don’t know that one. What’s that?
Bill: They… they do all sorts of pranks and jokes. And I remember one particular one. Er, a guy had a brand new car. And then he was called over whilst some people were working on a construction site and there was a large pile of bricks above his car, and they dropped them onto his brand new car.
Barbara: Oh no!
Bill: But it was a fake car. But he was going crazy. Terrifying.
Vicky: I bet he did.
Bill: Horrible. But funny!
Maria: Yeah. I think these programs are very, really funny but sometimes they can be a bit annoying for people. If… I don’t know, if the jokes are, erm, too hard. Mm, I don’t know.
Barbara: Well you mentioned one just before, when you were mentioning Japan, I had never
 heard of that one about…
Vicky: That’s right.
Barbara: Some sniper attack or something. Like some guy pretending that he’s killing people, and I guess they’re like fake bullets, but it must be like in the movies when there’s like blood coming out or something. Paintball or I don’t know what they’re using.
Vicky: That’s right.
Barbara: And like, and some people are there and like watching these people getting killed, and probably thinking, “Oh my God, am I next?” You know? Like that’s like, that’s not funny. I mean, the nun thing is funny, you know, or the construction guy, but I mean that is a bit in bad taste, I think, yeah.
Vicky: Yeah. Well it’s interesting you say that, actually, because some people think that these prank shows should be banned altogether.
Maria: Why?
Vicky: Well I imagine it’s because of examples, such as you’re saying, where the jokes go further than everyday humour, than set-up jokes.