Off the Cuff
This week we started shooting a show that challenges people to do goofy (but not degrading) things in exchange for a one dollar bill. The first episode was fun and entertaining. As the cameraman, I had a silly grin on my face the entire time.
The strength of this format is, of course, the spontaneity of others. You can't predict what people will do, but often the results are quite funny and sometimes hysterical. "Candid Camera" (which began on TV in the late 40's) was probably the earliest incarnation of this form of comedy and it still works.
It also helps to have a good personality to interact with the crowd. They have to be able to size someone up in an instant and request something of them that provide good show fodder. It helps if they can improvise as well (and be funny). Not everything clicks, but working a train platform crowd for 30 minutes can easily yield 2-3 minutes of edited content.
I'm a big fan of scripting, but it's amazing what can come of just turning people loose. Just get the right people, turn on your camera and prepare for great things to happen.