Live television has always been a staple in people’s lives whether it’s watching your favorite newscasters or catching up on America’s Got Talent for the year. And although in recent years it has become far more common for people to catch highlights of live TV on YouTube, it doesn’t dispute the fact that there have been some embarrassing moments in television history. Things like newscasters stumbling over their words, or even forgetting the story they’re covering doesn’t even come close to the things you’ll find listed here.
There’s been a strange trend with live television in the past year or two where famous actors and even the average Joe will do anything whether it’s strange, bizarre or out of this world to receive their five minutes of fame. I don’t judge, hey if you’ve got the guts to do something odd that isn’t necessarily frowned upon or intrusive on other individuals, by all means you deserve your five minutes of fame. In my own experience, I’ve witnessed people dancing on the streets and performing magic for the people surrounding them, but again, that doesn’t really come close to what’s been shown on live television over the years. Today I hope to make you cringe or shield your eyes in embarrassment as I highlight 15 of the most embarrassing moments ever caught on live television. I’m warning you now, some of these will make you say “are you kidding me?” while others may just leave you speechless. You’ve been warned.
15. Bullet ball – American Inventors
During an episode of American Inventors, a man by the name of Marc Griffin pitched his idea known as Bullet Ball. If you’re unfamiliar with American Inventors, they basically listen to the pitch of your idea and decide if it’s worthy of funding or not. This story blew up over the internet when it happened because not only was the idea behind Bullet Ball an enormous passion of Marc Griffin’s, it was also the cause of his own demise. You learn through the pitch of his idea that he sold everything he owned, speaks openly about his ex-wife, and you come to learn that he put 26 years of his life in order to bring the idea of Bullet Ball to life. It’s always awkward and saddening to hear stories like this, because you have to wonder what is going through the person’s mind when they find out their life-long project doesn’t have the potential they believe it has. Fortunately, the idea has found some interest since his sales pitch, though I don’t know very much about what state Marc Griffin is in currently.
14. Adam Grabowski Comedy Act Gone Wrong – America’s Got Talent 2016
There’s a common theme with America’s Got Talent where the most embarrassing and awkward acts get the most attention, and the actual talent gets thrown to the side. I’m not saying the talent gets disregarded, I’m just saying more people focus on the bad and not the good. This year is no different. In the 2016 edition of America’s Got Talent, the crowd and judges were “blessed” with a man by the name of Adam Grabowski. This guy had potential, and I thought he was going to blow the crowd and the judges away since he seemed funny during his audition. Unfortunately, during the judges’ cuts he fell short. Not only were his jokes bad, the room was filled with silence and confusion, leaving an awkward man attempting to crawl himself out of the hole he dug himself in. His jokes were stale and even the judges were stunned by how bad his act was. It’s a shame, because he had potential.
13. Zombie Kid – “I Like Turtles”
When you’re a young boy, nothing really seems out of place or out of the ordinary. Though, for this kid, he pretty much set his fate for the rest of his life. According to the internet and the origin of the internet meme, the kid in the interview is known as Jonathan. While a news reporter was doing a story at a waterfront park, a kid with zombie face paint came up to her and simply answered the question with “I Like Turtles.” Though this isn’t necessarily awkward for the child in question, the news reporter didn’t even ask a follow up to the question. Of course, if it were me in her position, I would be so struck with confusion that I wouldn’t even be able to ask a follow up question either. Although this has gone down in history as one of the best origins for a meme, there’s no doubt the reporter in question still feels a strand of embarrassment about this.
12. Steve Harvey – Announcing Wrong “Miss Universe” Winner
Seriously, look it up. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner for Miss Universe back in 2015. As soon as the internet picked up on this, the story was surfacing all over. Memes were created, articles were giving their take on this, and Steve Harvey just couldn’t catch a break. Now, people make mistakes – that much is known – and unfortunately for Steve Harvey, this is going to go to the grave with him. He did deliver an enormous apology for his misreading stating that he misread the card entirely, which isn’t entirely his fault because most websites have shown examples of what the card looks like. Hell, if it were me I probably would have misread it as well. We still love you Steve Harvey, but it’s going to take a while for the internet to forget about this one. Just try to laugh about it now.
11. Taylor Swift Headbanging Grammy Performance
I know there are millions of Taylor Swift fans out there, and me even bringing her up will cause some controversy. Let’s face it, fame has gotten to her. Back in her early days with albums like Fearless and Taylor Swift, you could hear the innocence in her voice. You could tell she was simply enjoying the songwriting aspect and whatever else that went into the albums. However that’s not what we’re here to talk about. During one of her Grammy performances, she seemed to feel it was necessary to head bang to her own music. I understand that the music was extremely emotional and it’d be hard for anybody to keep themselves under wraps during a Grammy performance of all things. But this was not only completely out of character for Taylor Swift, it was also just straight up awkward and almost hard to watch. Don’t become the sell out everyone wants you to be, Taylor Swift.
10. Kanye West Interrupting Taylor Swift
I’d never be able to forgive myself later on if I didn’t include one of the most famous and most awkward moments in television history. Yes, I’m of course talking about the Kanye West interruption. We all know it and we all love it. The moment this happened, I’m sure we all went straight to YouTube in hopes of finding some form of recording of the event. The scary thing about the internet intertwining with events happening on live television is how quickly people leach onto it and spread it. Though as I explained earlier in the article, some people do these stunts on purpose in order to go viral. I imagine the same can be said about Kanye West as he interrupts Taylor Swift to give his opinion of the outcome. Kanye West hasn’t really been known to keep his mouth shut, and this is just another good example. I feel for Taylor Swift and how embarrassing and awkward this must have felt.
9. Kourtney Kardashian Grabbing Her Newborn Baby
Throughout the history of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, we oftentimes ask ourselves how in the world this family got popular. With Kim K and her full nudity photo shoots to Kourtney and Scott’s on again off again relationship. It’s a wonder how we as a people have succumbed to consider this enjoyment. Though I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a personal guilty pleasure to watch as the chaos unfolds in this family. That’s why the show exists right? Anyway, during a season finale of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, we finally got to witness Kourtney giving birth. And although this is meant to be a memorable moment for the father and mother, the whole family was there to witness it. Is that not awkward enough? Well, how about the fact that Kourtney herself reaches down with her own arms and pulls the baby out from under her. I mean, sure it got ratings on television, but c’mon now. We don’t need to watch as you pull the baby out of your own body.
8. Ashlee Simpson Lip Sync Fail
You ever hear of someone going on live television and lip syncing? Of course you have. Have you ever known someone like Ashlee Simpson to go on Saturday Night Live and lip sync to her own music? Well, you have now. During a live performance on Saturday Night Live, Ashlee Simpson was meant to sing Pieces of Me and Autobiography. Unfortunately as she was making her way back on the stage to perform Autobiography, the room was filled with a recording of Pieces of Me insinuating that Ashlee Simpson was lip syncing the entire time. It didn’t just stop there though as to cover up her little mistake, she proceeded to do a jig and quickly made her way off the stage. It’s rather unfortunate that this would happen given how popular Ashlee was back then, but this has gone down in SNL history as being one of the most controversial acts. I imagine Ashlee looks back at this and cowers in shame and embarrassment. I know I would.
7. 2016 Presidential Debates
Now what kind of person would I be if I didn’t include the 2016 presidential debates in this article. I know we’ve been talking about the election results and the like a lot over the past month or so, but for it being one of the most controversial elections to date, a discussion is needed. There are many people that don’t take the presidential debates very seriously given that they’ve probably already decided who they’re voting for once they come around. That doesn’t take away from how awkward they can be, especially when millions of people are watching them. It was almost difficult to watch as Donald Trump built a bigger hole for himself while simultaneously Hillary Clinton wouldn’t describe her side but instead throw insults toward her contender. I think the one thing we can take away from the awkwardness and silliness of the 2016 presidential debates is one thing: we better be prepared to fight in 2020.
6. Creepy Old Man Game Show Host
Back in the beginning of the article, I mentioned that you should prepare yourself for some potentially cringeworthy material. When I said that, this particular point was the reason for doing so. During a 1970’s era game show, the host of the game show decided it was in his best interest to not only get dangerously close to the young girls participating in the game show, but to also get uncomfortably physical with them. If you search “creepy game show host” on YouTube, you’ll see what I mean. Basically what proceeds to happen is the game show host thinks it’s appropriate to almost force the young girls to kiss him. Not only is this awkward for the viewer, but I can’t even imagine how awkward the young girls must have felt. If for whatever reason you never really considered old style game show hosts to be creepy, well…now you have a reason to think that.
5. Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction
I still remember this moment like it was yesterday. During a performance by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, the male pop star proceeded to rip a part of Jackson’s clothing right off. This wouldn’t have been a huge deal had the article of clothing not have revealed a part of her body not fitting for live television, or even a Super Bowl halftime show no less. While I imagine Justin Timberlake was quite proud of his endeavor, Janet Jackson was standing in front of potentially millions of people tuning in as she attempted to shield herself from scrutiny. Although Janet Jackson doesn’t seem to have let it get to her in the later parts of her career since then, this ordeal is now known as the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy. Seriously, you can look it up on Wikipedia, and it showcases every little detail you’d want to know about it. Though I’d be surprised if you didn’t catch this live like the rest of the world.
4. 2000 Election Recount
Although there are currently websites putting out petitions to ask for a recount due to Hillary Clinton receiving the popular vote by over 2 million and counting, there actually was a recount during the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. I actually vaguely remember this because in the back of my mind, as it was shown on national television networks on election night. All I really remember is people freaking out because evidently there had to be a recount in Florida which prior to the recount had gone to Al Gore, later calling it for George W. Bush. Now, this probably was awkward for the candidates in question, but I can’t imagine being the networks that were airing the results at the time, and had to explain to millions of viewers that the person they thought would win wasn’t actually going to win. This prompted people to focus heavily on the recount due to it being the deciding factor, much like it had an enormous impact on the 2016 election.
3. Madonna Wardrobe Choice
Please don’t assume I’m coming off as sexist because of this choice, because I’m trying to be as civil as possible. Given the nature of this article, this is in no way meant to offend Madonna or any parties involved. I understand that Madonna has never really made a point to pull herself away from revealing and flaunting what she’s got, but I’ve read complaints all over the internet implying that given her age, the outfit certainly doesn’t fit. While I’m in the middle, I can certainly understand how this makes it rather awkward for those tuning in. I remember seeing this performance and thinking “is she really wearing that?” Again, it’s fine if you want to flaunt what you’ve got, but at some point in your life it goes from being risque to completely inappropriate for your age.
2. David Blaine Interview
David Blaine is a weird dude, there is no doubt about that. At first, people saw him as this great magician and illusionist. Now he comes off as this weird and out of this world character that shouldn’t be able to do the things he does. Now, something even weirder than his Netflix specials and YouTube videos are his interviews. Most of the time he seems to be in control of himself and can speak vividly. However, one instance of his weird character is during an interview with Eamonn Holmes where David Blaine not only speaks but five words throughout the entire interview, but he also proceeds to look as if he’s possessed by another being. During this interview, you can’t help but feel sorry for Eamonn Holmes as I imagine it must have been extremely awkward to be sitting next to a man who isn’t putting much into the interview. As this is happening, David Blaine proceeds to show an image of an eye on his hand, and it’s assumed he is a follower of the one-eyed system.
1. Grape Stomping
If you can watch this particular mishap without smiling or grinning, you’re more powerful than most. During a live interview with a grape stomping lady (as they call her) who shows the reporter what it takes to do such a thing, for one reason or another, the reporter felt it was her responsibility to somewhat compete with the grape stomping lady. So she proceeds to attempt to cheat her way to victory, but instead of getting ahead of the curb, she loses her balance and falls face first onto the ground. I imagine this could only be awkward for the reporter in question, because every single person that has witnessed this fail either on YouTube or even on live television, it’s hard to not burst out laughing. There aren’t very many times where you can witness first hand an epic fail on live television, but when it happens you can guarantee the internet is going to get all over it.
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