Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Humor Me: Warning, this is a commercial


My favorite commercial right now starts with an old, beat-up truck pulling up to a drive-thru. The truck stops, and suddenly a large metal claw emerges, picks up the truck and appears to peel its trashed exterior to reveal a brand-new Toyota truck. The new truck is set on the ground as this appears on the bottom of the screen:

Warning: Do not attempt.

Silly warning, you’d say, but I just think it needs some clarification. If I am able to commandeer a giant wrecking claw from some junkyard, or perhaps find a Home Depot with a really big rental operation, does the warning refer to the dangers of using the claw in such a manner? Or does “do not attempt” refer to thoughts of invoking some kind of David Copperfield magic, or perhaps evil spirits, to turn my clunker into a sweet new ride?

Car ads are the greatest for nonsensical warnings. You’ll see cars doing slalom courses on snow-packed roads, performing 90-degree slide turns, skidding on all four wheels and racing across stretches of desert like they’re part of the Saudi Arabian paparazzi.

Then we’re warned that the driving is done by a professional driver on a closed course. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. It’s an excellent point, considering many amateur drivers on open courses have yet to master getting between the parking stripes at Kroger.

Of course, when I say it’s an excellent point, I mean it’s an excellent point for an exceptionally small part of the population. The part of the population that probably believes, after seeing a Hummer ad, that the world’s most mastodon-like vehicle can orbit Earth like a space shuttle.

We all know it can’t -- yet. But the Hummer would be a pretty cool-looking spaceship. I bet if NASA added a rugged-looking chrome grille and a little more militaristic styling to the space shuttles, more Americans would consider space travel. Especially if they could tow a bass boat.

Anyway, car commercials have silly warnings. But that’s not to say warnings and disclaimers don’t have a place in commercials. Here are a few possibilities:

Disneyland commercials
“Professional actors on closed course. That’s why it looks like there are only a few people here at The Happiest Place on Earth. Under normal conditions, we are also the Most Crowded Place on Earth, and you may experience extended waits for some of our more popular areas of the park, such as Adventureland, Tomorrowland and Bathroomland.”

Commercials with celebrity endorsement
“Paid spokesman. Celebrity might not even know what our product is, but give us a break. How many Domino’s Cheeseburger Pizzas do you think Donald Trump ate? How often did Fabio spray I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on anything? How much of that anti-constipation yogurt does Jamie Lee Curtis really eat?"

Breath freshener/chewing gum commercials
“Small point: No breath freshener can make you blow cold air that can freeze a mirror or window pane. Larger point: Our breath freshener will not make potential sexual partners lust for you, nor can it cover up every personal flaw -- whether it be physical, intellectual or a garlic-based halitosis.”

Cruise-line commercials
“Professional actors on closed cruise ship. Feel free to try, but you will not, and frankly CANNOT, be as happy as these highly caffeinated actors. Also, actors in commercial were not infected with the Norwalk virus that plagued several ships in recent years and caused passengers to suffer gastrointestinal distress. Your distress may vary.”

Weight-loss commercials
“We always include ‘weight loss not typical’ in our commercials, but seriously, your weight loss may vary. Put it this way: About 10,000 people tried our weight-loss plan last year and we only needed one for our commercial. And that person didn’t eat for five days because she went on a cruise ship that had a Norwalk virus.”

Natural male enhancement commercials
"Professional actors on a closed course, trying really hard not to laugh. Also, please don’t ask us, ‘What is natural male enhancement?’ because we can’t describe it on television. The guy takes a pill and then he can throw a football through a tire ... you figure it out, OK? If you can't, you might want to ask a friend, and a few days later, find a new circle of friends.”

To be on the list that is sent out when a new column in posted, e-mail