Few shows have had the staying power of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” which is now in its 25 season. And few actors have enjoyed as long a career as Alfonso Ribeiro. This past October, the star joined the series as the new host, replacing his “Dancing with the Stars” pal Tom Bergeron. Tonight all of Alfonso’s worlds will collide when the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” star unleashes his iconic dance, “The Carlton,” on “AFV” fans.
We spoke with Alfonso one-on-one about how he landed the coveted hosting gig. He revealed that talent, timing and a few well placed friends at the alphabet network had everything to do with it. “The fact that I was on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ for ABC and with Tom, played a role in it. ABC pulled me into the office and asked me ultimately what did I want to do. They felt like they wanted to try to keep me on the network and see what I was into doing.”
Alfonso recounted that he looked up at a poster of Tom Bergeron on the office wall and said, “That’s the show. I know Tom is leaving and you guys are looking for a new host.”
He explained his reasons for putting his name in the hat, saying, “I just think that’s such a great show. I think it absolutely is perfect for my fan base and what I find important on TV. There just aren’t many family shows on TV. And ‘AFV’ is truly the best family show on TV. And so, I felt like it was just the perfect match.”
Luckily for Alfonso the show’s former host agreed. “Tom was amazing because he publicly said that if there was someone he wanted to replace him, it would be me. So, it just was a perfect storm. It was the perfect timing that it all happened the season after ‘DWTS.’ You never know why things happen but they sometimes happen for a reason and this one definitely felt like that.”
When handing over the keys to the ‘AFV’ kingdom, Bergeron passed on a few simple words of advice. Alfonso recalled a conversation with Tom, “‘Be yourself,’ he said, ‘There’s a reason why you’re going to be there. There’s a reason why they picked you and that is because you’re you. Just continue to be yourself and it will all work out.’ I am holding true to that advice.”
As both Bergeron and Bob Saget did before him, Alfonso’s bringing his own signature style to the show. “My energy is different. The jokes that work for me, being able to play characters and different things like that, I think what is really is working for me, what I feel really strong about.”
But he’s also quick to point out that there’s another star on the legendary series. “I feel like Tom really found the system for the show that worked — the way in which they write the jokes, making sure that it isn’t about the host, it’s about the videos. And that’s what I thought that Tom did so well. So, that is exactly what we’re doing on my version of the show.”
That and a little bit of dancing, which leads us back to “The Carlton.” We were at the taping of tonight’s episode and the crowd went wild when the “Dancing with the Stars” winner started snapping his fingers and shuffling his feet. Some 26 years after “The Fresh Prince” first aired, the 44-year-old star commented on why the move still resonates with fans.
“It brings a smile to people’s faces. It brings happiness to their heart,” Alfonso acknowledged. “When they get to see it, they remember those feelings of when they were young. There’s something about when you are younger. Those happy times, as time goes on, seem to get greater and greater in your mind because they are true, pure bliss when you’re a youngster. So I feel like it brings people back to that pure bliss. So people get excited about it when they see it.”
We defy anyone to tune in tonight and not get a smile on his face when Alfonso does “The Carlton.”
“America’s Funniest Home Video” airs on Sunday night at 7 P.M. EST/PST on ABC.