‘Pawn Stars’: What Rick Harrison Means When He Says Show is ‘Laugh and Learn TV’

by Courtney Blackann

One of the reasons “Pawn Stars” is so fun is because there’s so much history within the items brought to the store. Learning about Civil War battles, antiques or ancient artifacts is just super interesting. And Rick Harrison agrees. At the end of the day, it’s not just about exchanging money. It’s about the stories that lie within the used treasures.

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly several years ago, Harrison opened up about the TV show and its impact on new generations of “Pawn Stars” fans.

“My producer calls it laugh-and-learn-TV,” Harrison says. “For years, everyone has joked around at my pawn shop: ‘If you bring that back to Rick, he’s going to give you a history lesson,’ but I really believe people prefer to watch a normal guy just talking to them to learn history — or just to learn anything, for that matter — instead of a professor talking down to them. When you were a kid, it was lot easier to learn from your dad than it was from your teacher, you know?”

And it’s true. Learning history from examining an item is a fun way to explore that topic. For example, during one episode, a man brought in a collection of military papers that were signed by Civil War era presidents. The entire collection was worth thousands of dollars. But seeing the medals and documents and being able to touch a president’s actual name is fascinating.

In another case, a woman who’d purchased an old pocket watch for $20 ended up with much more than she bargained for. The watch was engraved by a civil war soldier and was in mint condition. It, too, ended up being worth more than a thousand dollars.

“Pawn Stars” is a ‘Little Bit of Everything’

The cool finds are just a part of the job. And just like educating people about an antique’s history is important, it’s also a lesson in learning when something is fake and what to watch out for.

Though people come in with certain expectations, they’ll always walk away with more knowledge than they previously had – even if they can’t make a deal. And that’s the fun for Harrison. He’s been in the business for 30 years and has seen just about everything. But everyday is different and new.

“I think the thing is, it’s a little bit of everything. It’s a history show, it’s Pimp My Ride, it’s American Chopper, it’s sort of like a game show because everyone wants to know if they win in the end. They always want to know, “Is it real? Is it fake?” There are a lot of different things going on in the show, and it attracts a really broad range of people,” Harrison says.