You know who I admire? Those guys on that TV commercial who dance around in outfits as pink as plastic flamingos and sing about digestive disorders. That really takes…uh…guts. Sorry.
And their talents won’t even get them nominations on the Emmy Awards on September 17. While the award show recognizes excellence on television programming, it doesn’t recognize excellence on the commercials that pay for it, and some of the commercials are at least as excellent as the programs are. You can take that however you want to.
I’m no expert. If it were up to me, all there would be on television is Monk reruns and the Hallmark mystery channel. Plus I’ve never watched the Emmy Awards and I see no reason to start now. But if I were running the show, I’d add a few awards for the commercial actors.
For starters, I’d have an award for the actor who least awkwardly discusses personal products and bodily functions in a commercial so sensitive that viewers can’t even watch it without being embarrassed. That’s talent and it should be rewarded.
And what about an award for looking natural and relaxed while wearing a giant roll of toilet paper or a life-sized mustard bottle. Commercial actors are forever dressing up like yogurt cups or pizza slices or any number of fruits or vegetables. Anyone who can look graceful when they’re dressed like a sub sandwich deserves some recognition.
There could be an award for the actor who acts the most genuinely shocked and amazed at news that isn’t that shocking or amazing—like that all electric toothbrushes aren’t the same or that homeowners insurance doesn’t pay when your washing machine wears out.
I’d give an award to the actor who looks as smitten by a dust mop as she would by her first grandchild and one to the performer who gets so excited about detergent that he makes doing laundry look fun.
There could be an award for dancing, jogging or paying tennis while the announcer reads a dire warning about the prescription drug the dancer, jogger or tennis player is supposedly taking. I might even have an award for the announcer who reads it. It takes talent to sound so cheerful when you’re reading a list of potential side effects that include serious injury, coma or death.
I thought about an award for the actor who looks the most innocent while misleading the audience, but I decided I shouldn’t encourage that sort of behavior. If I did though, it might go to the woman who says her orange juice has 50 percent fewer calories. Period. That always has me screaming at the TV. “Fifty percent fewer calories than what? Orange soda? A gallon of maple nut?”
The top advertising honor at the Emmys would be the Award for Saying Dumb Stuff Like You Really Believe It. There’s the woman who says, she nailed parenting because she got her family to finish their dinner. It was pizza. I bet that was tough.
Or the woman who says, “Yes, I’ve had some changes. And the most impactful one was coloring my hair.” I take it she doesn’t have a spouse, a child or an education.
But I’m not blaming the actors. They’re just doing their job and they’re doing it well. Blame the copywriters. I was once a copywriter myself, but it was for radio rather than television. In radio, you rely on the listener’s imagination. If your listeners start picturing the actor dancing in a mustard bottle, that’s their problem.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of the humor book, I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)