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"Who Gets the Last Laugh?" has a mean streak

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The hidden camera prank show has changed much since the days of "Candid Camera" and that's mostly because of "Punk'd". Now, Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, the minds behind "Punk'd" have created "Who Gets the Last Laugh" (10 tonight, TBS). This time, instead of pranking celebrities, celebrities prank regular folk to win money for charity.

More specifically, three comedians or comic actors dream up pranks, then play them on unwitting folk. An audience votes by cell phone on which scenario they think is funniest. The winner gets to give $10,000 to a needy group.

Donald Faison ("Scrubs," "The Exes") hosts the trio; in the first few episodes, comedians include D.L. Hughley, Bill Bellamy, Andy Dick, Cheri Oteri, Aries Spears, Kunal Nayyar from "The Big Bang Theory" and Danny Masterson. ("The 70s Show" and TBS' "Men at Work").

I suspect the charitable aspect was put in place to offset the fact that some of the pranks are pretty mean; if a target starts to cry, the prank may have gone too far. That happens during one prank, in which the target, on the first day of a new job, loses $100,000.

That's the change I was talking about; TV pranks used to be something you could truly laugh at. Now they can be about laughing at someone's pain.

Each prank gives you a glimpse into each of these comics' sense of humor and sensibility. Bellamy's prank involves poop; Oteri has a naughty one that gets the target involved in cheating children, and then being confronted by their parents. That means most of the pranks aren't particularly funny, but some of them are pretty clever.

"Who Gets the Last Laugh?" won't be the pop phenom "Punk'D" was but at least you won't feel like the joke's on you.

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About the blogger

Adrienne Johnson Martin would like to have her life turned into an animated cartoon. E-mail Adrienne.
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