In the glamorous if not pretentious world of modeling, Heidi Klum has always stood apart from the crowd. She’s a refreshingly authentic needle in a haystack of self-absorbed egomaniacs. The fact that she married Seal, another celebrity who seems down to earth, did nothing but further my sense that Heidi was the real deal.
Therefore, I wasn’t all that surprised when I learned that her most recent professional endeavor was an earnest one: trying to make kids laugh. But will she succeed?
Only time will tell. Her new show, “Seriously Funny Kids” premiered last night on Lifetime. In it, she interacts with kids aged four to ten, usually trying to pull off a prank on the youngsters. Many of these gags rely on a hidden camera, making the show a mix between “Candid Camera” and “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”
In one skit, Klum pretends to audition two boys for the show… with an enormous, fake, um, booger stuck to her face just beneath her nose. The camera captures the kids’ response to the embarrassingly misplaced mucus.
Klum describes another skit to People Magazine:
“There was a little girl, and she was so into fashion and she had seen me onProject Runway,” Klum says. “And I said, ‘You know, I’ve been world’s best-dressed woman for 10 years. I’m so excited. Look at me. I have so much style and class.’ I was really hamming it up.”
But the joke was on the little girl once Klum said she needed to step away for a moment.
“As I walked away, my phone rings,” Klum says. “The girl picks up the phone, and … it was some journalist who called and said, ‘By the way, we’re putting Heidi on the cover of the worst-dressed person in the world, and you have to break it to her.’ ”
The fake phone call left the little girl devastated.
Of course, after the prank victim learns of the hoax, she immediately finds the humor.
In reading about the show, I saw many critical comments about Klum, most of which express disappointment that she would “lie” to kids in the name of humor. I think such critics are missing the boat.
A lot of humor relies on deception, whether it’s by delivering the unexpected or surprising with the absurd. Magic, too, relies on deception, but I’ve never heard David Copperfield or Chris Angel categorized as liars.
Like Klum, I have four kids. Like Klum, I love to make them laugh. And, like Klum’s, sometimes my capers are built on non-truths, if you will. Just last night, my little girl was fussy in the bathtub. She wanted Mommy to get her out. But Mommy was busy, and this Daddy is man enough to do (most) anything Mommy does. So I put a plan of humor into the works so that I could finish the task at hand.
“Nope, kiddo. Mommy’s busy reading to Sammy in the bedroom. Daddy’s gonna take you out of the tub. Besides, I just went to the store and bought myself a Kirby. (That’s her name.) Wanna see how it works?”
Suddenly, Kirby was no longer fussing for Mommy; her bright blue eyes wide with curiosity.
“First, you have to get it wet. Just like I’ve already done,” I said while giving her a playful splash of bathwater. “Then,” I said while getting her out of the tub, “you wrap it up in a yellow towel.” I paused to look at the little yellow bundle who was by then lying in my lap, still smiling, but silent as a church mouse. “Huh.” I said. “That’s weird. The saleslady said my Kirby would make noise.
“OH, that’s right. The saleslady said the way to make my Kirby make noise was to…
“…touch her!” I screamed as my hand playfully smacked her towel-covered tummy, the sudden nature of which turned my once-silent girl into a noise-making one. Kirby delighted in the game and wanted to play it over and over.
But, gee. I didn’t really go to a store to buy a Kirby. It was just a ploy to get her out of the bathtub without having to disturb my (already overworked) wife. Technically speaking, I lied to her.
Only no one in the world would describe my actions as such. Just like I don’t think one can describe Klum’s capers as lies. So, Heidi-haters, cut the woman some slack. She’s one of the few grounded stars we have out there. She’s traded making heads turn for making kids laugh, for crying out loud.
I hope that the show succeeds. I love to laugh. And many kids do, too.