Denver - A local Lakewood man, David Cottalano, says he's "down right unhappy" about his latest defeat at the hands of the producers from the ABC show America's Funniest Home Videos. Although he should not be surprised, this was the one-hundredth time such a thing has or more accurately, hasn't occurred.
Mr. Cottalano began sending his tapes shortly after the purchase of his first video camera in 1990. In fact, David says, AFV drove him to purchase a video camera after he became an avid viewer the previous year. "Back then things were fast and loose," shrugged the 45-year-old part time dental assistant, "you've got to remember, no one had ever seen guys getting hit in the crotch with waffle bats, or brides passing out at the altar. This was totally new ground."
The first attempts at shooting comedy proved fruitless for David. Long nights spent filming his dog provided nary a second of usable footage. "I tried everything, from lighting my hair on fire to tying two cats together with duct tape." The later admits Cottalano "got me probation".
But then magic did strike, or so Dave thought. One night in 1992 this ardent voyeur filmed a robbery taking place at a convenience store. The next day Cottalano spent thirty dollars to Express Mail the tape to the AFV producers. Bucking standard policy, the tape was sent back to its owner with a note - "This is most likely some sort of evidence. And besides Mr. Cottalano, it hardly under the guise of ‘ha ha' funny."
But Dave Cottalano pressed on, determined to make his mark in the industry. With a proliferation of copycat shows beginning in the mid-90's something was sure to go his way. During the summer of 2001, the Fox network lost its last shred of dignity when it subsequently aired When Animals Attack III and gave Bill O'Reilly a lifetime contract. Cottalano struck while the iron was hot. WAAIII picked up the footage of his wife tripping over their aged Calico, and at the same time was asked to appear on The O'Reilly Factor as chairman for the Democratic Party in Colorado (which he is not).
The WAAIII high lasted for a few weeks while the O'Reilly experience just left him feeling "dirty". In telling and retelling story Dave says he knew his victory on Animals was "kind of hollow". He remarked that, "somehow I felt like my ‘white whale' hadn't been slain. I still had unfinished business and VHS tapes to fill."
So David set out with a single purpose in mind, to get his footage on the original and still the funniest vehicle for getting popped in the crotch, AFV.
Through host changes and a handful of laugh-track upgrades, Dave remained faithful but did remark that he almost quit watching when "that Fuentes girl almost ruined it for me." As for the latest host, Tom Bergeron, all this Videos aficionado can say is that "he's just not Saget, but who is."
The milestone rejection featured David's nephew, 3-year-old Samuel "Sammy" Johnston, rolling around in grass freshly covered with fertilizer. While his critics admonish him for endangering the child's health, Cottalano clearly points out that he too is captured on the video yelling "don't do that, Sammy don't eat that" between chuckles.
"I guess I'll just keep trying," says David after the rejection, "I mean, hey, I heard that the clip that won last year's $100,000 prize ‘Groom Getting Kneed at Altar' took two days to film."