12 March, 2008

6 Thoughts About a Very Strange Commercial

1. I wish I spoke Japanese, because I really want to know what’s going on here. Then again, I’m afraid they might tell me to kill my parents.
2. I am now afraid of dogs.
3. I am now afraid of potato chips.
4. Different strokes for different folks.

I know what I find funny. I’ve loved stand-up ever since I saw Bill Cosby Himself. I thought about it as a career until I realized how much work it actually was. I still think Bill Cosby Himself is hysterical. But I also found Mitch Hedberg hysterical. I appreciate the brilliance of Gallagher, who most people only remember for the Sledgomatic, and the brilliant annoyance of Gilbert Godfried. I can laugh at the outlandishness, as well as the subtlety of The Office, and the silliness of Anchorman and Monty Python, along with the ingeniously stupid character Stephen Colbert has created for himself. Even stupid comedy—especially stupid comedy—needs to be well thought-out to work.

I also know what I don’t find remotely funny: Two and a Half Men, Carlos Mencia, Scary Movie and the similar Friedberg/Seltzer spoofs they’ve spawned.

But Gallagher is a now a comedic afterthought. Two and a Half Men is consistently one of the highest rated sit-coms on TV. And Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movies have made a lot of money.

What are you driving at Cap’n? Well I watched this video again after watching Queen Latifah in Last Holiday. It’s a movie I never would have bothered with, but it was what they were showing at jury duty. The movie was what I expected to be, but regardless, I laughed. At parts I cackled. And many other jurors in waiting howled at predictable jokes I’d finished writing in my head halfway before the character onscreen ever got them out.

It reminded me that just because something doesn’t fit my model of good comedy doesn’t mean there’s not a huge audience for it. As westerners, we may not get this commercial. But in the West, the silly antics of shows such as MXC and Ninja Warrior were always left to the realm of children on Double Dare. Still, they’re quite popular on the other side of the globe. And compare the original British The Office to the American The Office. The setting is the same, but they are very different shows. And even think North and South. East Coast and West Coast. What plays in Augusta, Maine may not be nearly as effective in Augusta, Georgia.

The bottom line is, think about your audience. If they’re affluent and well-educated, you may have to up your level of sophistication. Conversely, kicks to the groin and pies in the face have been longtime comedy favorites that probably won’t be going away anytime soon.

5. I want a potato chip.
6. My parents have been getting on my nerves lately.

--Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

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