Video On Trial

By Dila Velazquez

It is Sunday night. You’ve had a long week and want to relax before getting back to the grind on Monday, so you turn on the TV. As you surf through the channels you stop on MuchMusic and a narrator introduces, “the show that will never rest until all music videos are brought to justice.”


Video on Trial dishes dirt and deconstructs today’s hottest music videos. A panel of jurors, mostly made up of comedians, give scathing reviews. However the show does more than just make fun of videos; it taps into bigger issues by discussing the impact that the stars have on the world at large.

Poorly made and cheesy videos get ripped apart, but jurors have also criticized artists for using women as sexual objects. Rapper 50 Cent’s Candyshop was sentenced, “to stop letting his penis direct his music videos.”           

The hypersexual nature of videos does not bother Nicole Arbour, a comedian who has appeared on seven episodes of the show. “Women as sex objects in videos? Why the heck not!” she says. “I'm all about equal opportunity when it comes to using sex in the entertainment industry as a whole. I see no difference in what 50 does using girls, to boy bands making girls scream with wind machines on their open dress shirts, or Bon Jovi shaking his tight little butt at the crowd at his concerts.It's all about packaging and the emotion you want your audience to feel.”

Arbour, a 25-year-old from Hamilton, dubs herself the “World’s Sexiest Comedian,” and Video on Trial has opened up many doors for her.
“MuchMusic is awesome for starting people out, especially with their demographic,” she says. “It is the only platform that can reach across Canada and it has gotten my name out there.”  The show has helped her make the jump to Hollywood and she will be appearing in The Rocker, a film by Peter Cattaneo (Full Monty).

She has found success, despite being told that attractive women are not funny. “I had stand-up club owners tell me to dress down, wear no make-up, and put my hair up if I wanted to be taken seriously as a comedian,” says Arbour. “They'd call me sweetie, and cutie, and act as though they were doing me a big favour by even letting me play with the boys.” The show has given Arbour a platform where she can let women know that it is OK to be silly, sexy, and still be smart.

Perhaps the most recognizable face from Video on Trial is Trevor Boris. He is originally from Winnipeg and has been on the show since it premiered in 2005. “It’s one thing to be on TV, but you have to be on a popular show,” he says. Video on Trial has helped my stand-up, I’ve gotten more airtime, and now I’m a full-time producer here at Much. The great thing is that it has definitely gotten me a lot more Facebook friends, really that’s what it’s all about.”

Boris has been a presenter at the MuchMusic Video Awards, where he came face to face with many of the artists he has made fun of. “At the MMVAs people will come up to me and I think they like it,” he says. “We hardly do any Canadian artists I think because the network is afraid that the artists might not like it, but I’ve been approached by Hedley and Theory of a Deadman and they liked it. I know Chad Kroger is not a big fan though, but I guess it shows he can’t take a joke. For the most part they know it’s part of the business, I mean they get made fun of on a daily basis by Perez Hilton.”

Both Boris and Arbour try not to be too harsh. “I don't do personal attacks because I think it's just mean and uncalled for. I comment on the video, or props, or wardrobe,” says Arbour. “Once, I made a comment about Fergie's image, and frankly I felt really bad about it. We are all people. My job is to make people laugh, and I think there are many ways other than calling a musician fat or ugly.”

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