Category Archives: Comedy

Billy Mays, Backwards & in Reverse

In a world where crushed M&Ms become whole and people walk backwards gracefully, Billy Mays is known by millions as Syam Yllib, He Who Balks Tackwards. This is the YouTube world of Alex Connery, who has given us a gift of hundreds of commercials and clips that are reversed to run backwards. Exactly why he’s created these turned-around videos is a mystery, but he’s obviously taken a lot of time and care to create this huge collection, so why not enjoy some?

Billy Mays Impact Gel in reverse is replete with shots of people moon-walking backwards. You’ll be struck by how much Billy’s voice sounds like a Swedish pitchman. Or should we say ″Pitch människa″? If you don’t recall what it sounded like originally, you can check it out on our Top 20 Billy Mays Commercials page. Continue reading

Ghostbuster Harold Ramis: Egon Away

Ghostbusters star and cowriter Harold Ramis, who passed away Feb. 24 at the age of 69, leaves behind a treasure trove of comedy gold, starting with his turn on Canadian sketch show SCTV in the mid-1970s. He went on to write and direct several cult classics, and appeared in a few, including as Egon Spengler in the two Ghostbusters movies alongside pal and long-time collaborator Bill Murray.

Of course, Ramis’s passing likely closes the chapter on the long-in-development Ghostbusters 3, which is probably for the best. In the 2009 interview below, Ramis talks about working on the third installment. (You can buy the Ghostbusters Double Feature Gift Set at Amazon for less than $14.)

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Know Your Meme: The Infomercial-Fail Montage

infomercial fails
The first infomercial-fail montage appeared in 2009.

The infomercial-fail montage is a web video art form that first appeared in 2009. For as long as there have been infomercials, there have been infomercial parodies, which seems almost redundant since the infomercials themselves are already in so-bad-they’re-good territory.

“that parallel world where people have a really hard time performing everyday tasks”

The advent of Internet video and easy editing software has given us priceless fast cuts of the best-worst moments in the infomercial universe, that parallel world where people have a really hard time performing everyday tasks. The first such montage, according to KnowYourMeme.com, was posted by online video curator Everything Is Terrible on FunnyorDie.com back in 2009.

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In 2010, a second montage appeared on YouTube (above). The vid’s popularity (it’s been viewed more than 2.3 million times) helped drive the infomercial-fail montage into the mainstream, and the compilations were soon appearing all over the net, including on Huffington Post and blogs like Infomercial Problems.

More detailed info on the meteoric rise of the infomercial-fail meme.

Masters of Heavy Metal Parody Spinal Tap’s 1978 TV Debut

The idea for the cult classic Spinal Tap gestated from a conversation overheard by co-creator Christopher Guest in 1974, according to Legs McNeil’s excellent blog, Please Kill Me. Guest was hanging out at the chic Hollywood hotel Chateau Marmont when he heard:

Manager: All right, well, we’ll take our instruments up to the room.

Bassist: Don’t know where my bass is.

Manager: I beg your pardon.

Bassist: I don’t know where the bass is.

Manager: Where is it?

Bassist: I think it’s at the airport.

Manager: You have to get back there, don’t you?

Bassist: I don’t know, do I?

Manager: I think you better.

Bassist: Where’s my bass?

Manager: It’s at the airport.

Spinal Tap the band made its debut on a late-night ABC sketch comedy called The TV Show, in which they parodied NBC music show The Midnight Special, complete with Spinal Tap writer and director Rob Reiner introducing the band in his best Wolfman Jack impersonation.

“To relieve the tension of that moment, we started ad-libbing these characters.”

“We were shooting a takeoff on ‘Midnight Special,’ just lying on the ground waiting for the machine that was supposed to make the fog effect to stop dripping hot oil on us,” says Harry Shearer, who plays Spinal Tap bassist Derek Smalls. “And to relieve the tension of that moment, we started ad-libbing these characters.”

To relive the glory years of this great fake band, get the Special Edition DVD or Blu-ray for less than 10 bucks at Amazon, or stream it there for a few dollars less.

‘Secret Project’: ‘Seinfeld’ Reunion Confirmed

It’s unclear exactly what form it will be in, but the cast of Seinfeld has definitely reunited to film . . . something. Creator and star Jerry Seinfeld called it a “secret project.”

“I think it’s one-and-done.”

Seinfeld and costar Jason Alexander (George Costanza) were recently spotted walking into Tom’s Restaurant in New York City, the gang’s hangout for nearly a decade, for some sort of shoot. Larry David, a writer and creator of the show, was also there, Seinfeld confirmed on the sports talk radio show Boomer & Carton. Seinfeld was cagey about what exactly they were filming, but did answer in the affirmative when asked if it would be a one-time thing. “I think it’s one-and-done,” he said. 

“Very, very soon.”

Seinfeld also said that whatever they are making will be available for viewing shortly: “Very, very soon,” he said.

So does that mean they’re merely reuniting for a Super Bowl commercial? Nope. He said it’s definitely longer than 60 seconds.

Our favorite minor ‘Seinfeld’ characters

seinfeld j. peterman
J. Peterman

Elaine’s boss J. Peterman (played by John O’Hurley) was always smartly attired, even when hanging out in Far East opium dens.

 

 

 

Uncle Leo
Uncle Leo

Uncle Leo (played by Len Lesser, who passed away in 2011) was one of TV’s greatest cheapskates.

 

 

 

seinfeld mr wilhelm
Mr. Wilhelm

A shining moment of the series was when George’s boss Mr. Matt Whilhelm (played by Richard Herd) joined a carpet-cleaning religious cult.

 

 

 

seinfeld joe davola
“Crazy” Joe Davola

Perhap’s TV’s greatest sociopath is “crazy” Joe Davola (played by Peter Crombie, and named after a TV producer of the same name).

Get free shipping on Seinfeld: The Complete Series, now for $79.99 at Amazon.

50th Anniversary of ‘Dr. Strangelove’

When it was released on this day 50 years ago, director Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb became an instant countercultural classic.

This satirical take on the Soviet-U.S. arms race and the Cold War stars British comic actor Peter Sellers in several roles, including that of the titular character, who eventually finds it impossible to restrain the impulse to give the U.S. president a Nazi salute with his leather-gloved hand.

‘Strangelove’ trivia

  • The film’s first test screening was delayed two months because it had been scheduled on Nov. 22, 1963—the  day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
  • George C. Scott, who played General Buck Turgidson, vowed never to work with Kubrick again after the director goaded him into his over-the-top performance by filming what he said were practice runs that would not be seen.
  • The  Dr. Strangelove character’s accent was inspired by Kubrick’s Austrian-American photographer, Weegee.
  • Sellers was initially supposed to play Major T. J. “King” Kong, the role that went to country crooner Slim Pickens after Sellers was injured.
  • Set design was handled by Ken Adam, who had worked on several James Bond movies, including Dr. No.
  • Among the other titles Kubrick was considering for the movie were Dr. Doomsday or: How to Start World War III Without Even TryingDr. Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranus and Wonderful Bomb.
  • Kubrick had originally planned the ending to be a massive pie fight in the war room. The scene was actually filmed, but then cut out.

Own Dr. Strangelove now for less than eight bucks at Amazon.com.

Old Spice ‘Momsong’ Commercial: Creepy or Cool?

In its latest revival campaign for its perennially old-guy products, Old Spice is creeping out viewers with moms who are way too concerned with their sons’ sex lives.

The “Momsong” commercial for Refresh body spray, part of Old Spice’s “Smellcome to Manhood” campaign, features various frantic moms following their sons around town, and has racked up over 5 million views on YouTube. There’s a mom disguised as a janitor watching over her son in the lunchroom as he canoodles with a hot high schooler. One mom is buried up to her head in sand as her son canoodles beachside with a hottie. Yet another mom holds onto a car bumper and goes laundry-basket surfing as her son canoodles in a convertible.

There’s a whole lot of sweaty moms and a whole lot of oblivious canoodling.

So what kind of message is Old Spice trying to convey to the teen and twentysomething consumers it’s trying to ensare? It probably just comes down to, “You’re a big boy now, and look how funny it is that Mom’s confused by your burgeoning sexuality.” Of course, some viewers have been left creeped out by the spots.

One tweet called it “both genius and disturbing,” according to CNN. Another tweeted, “BTW the Old Spice Smellcome to Manhood lamenting moms commercial creeps me out AND pisses me off.”

But CNN also highlighted one tweet that nods to the masterfulness of the campaign: “To you fine advertising folks who worked on that Old Spice moms commercial: you silenced a room of football-watchers last night. Nicely done.”

If you’re not creeped out, you can buy the complete line of Old Spice products at Amazon.

Vince Offer’s ‘Inappropriate Comedy’ out on DVD

If you love the style and humor of the pitchman behind fan-favorite products Slap Chop and ShamWow, you might also enjoy his second grossout feature film, Inappropriate Comedy. Vince “Offer” Shlomi was somehow able to snag an Oscar winner for this outing, out now on DVD (buy it cheap at Amazon). He’s also trying to reclaim his pitchman throne by cleaning up with his new all-in-one InVinceable household cleaner.

The politically incorrect sketch comedy inexplicably features Academy Award winner Adrien Brody as hardboiled gay cop Flirty Harry, along with a character named the Amazing Racist, in a series of wildly offensive skits. The film also stars celebs like Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan, all along on the ride with the infomercial king turned flailing shlock/shock auteur as he attempts (and continues to fail miserably) to stake his place in alt-comedy and pop culture.

The DVD release comes with plenty of  extras, including previously unreleased scenes featuring “Blackass” and the Amazing Racist, plus the unfinished extended version of the “Sperm Lake” sketch. But it’s doubtful that any addition to this sordid affair could change the minds of the critics who savaged Inappropriate Comedy upon its debut.

Inappropriate Comedy is nearly as wild as the life of the pitchman himself. You may recall that the Israeli-born Vince Offer, 49, was arrested back in 2009 after he got into a bloody scrap with a 26-year-old hooker. Vince claimed he hit the woman only after she bit his tongue and wouldn’t let go. They were both bloodied, and both ended up in the hospital. Charges were never filed against either party.

Before the hooker dustup, Vince was involved in a number of lawsuits, most famously against the Church of Scientology. In a 2004 suit, Vince accused the church of attempting to smear his reputation when he was a member in 1997. The suit claimed the church’s vendetta was sparked after he started funneling profits from his pre-Slap Chop “the Chopper” product away from the church and into his first feature, 1999’s The Underground Comedy Movie. Soon after the suit was dismissed and Vince left the church, he launched his well-known infomercials for the ShamWow and Slap Chop.

Along with the new DVD release, Vince is back pitching a brand-new product that he hopes to put him back on his pitch pedestal. The InVinceable all-purpose home cleaner promises to replace cleaning supplies used in the bathroom, laundry room and kitchen, saving households more than $500 a year.

Time will tell if Vince still has that old pitchman magic. Hopefully so, because his movie-director pretensions seem to be just that.

Where’s Billy Mays?*

Billy Mays Maize Maze

It’s been four years since Billy Mays’ death, but his spirit is still with us. Reruns of the South Park episode “Dead Celebrities“, Epic Rap Battles with Benjamin Franklin, his son’s “Where’s Billy Mays?” blog, even a Billy Mays Maize Maze – all bear witness to his sticking power as a meme. He sees more action than some Pitchmen who are still alive. Heck, he even has a yearly holiday – BILLY MAYS MEMORIAL CAPS LOCK DAY.

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