We interrupt all these reports from San Francisco to bring you this emergency message. There was a Super Bowl yesterday. There were a lot of commercials. Advertisers paid $3 million for a 30-second spot. The least you could do is watch.
Yes, this post is yet another example of the stupid things you can end up exploring once you start writing a blog like this (and by you I mean me). Since Super Bowl commercials supposedly represent American advertising at its best, I was hoping it would prove incredibly illuminating to see what role if any physical comedy played in these ads. Of course this means I actually had to watch all of them, for which each and every one of you should be paying me very large sums of money.
I did find ten commercials sortakinda worth your 30 seconds.
Bud Light: Light House A party at a house built out of Bud Lite beer cans. The catch is that the cans are not empty, so the guests can't resist grabbing a can to drink and, well, just imagine the consequences.
Grade: B Keaton's One Week it ain't, but funny enough; maybe I'd give it a higher rating if the beer weren't so piss poor.
Snickers: Betty White Snickers candy bars give you instant energy, and if you don't have energy you might play football like 88-year-old actress Betty White.
Grade: B– The two tackles are well done, but I didn't get the lack of transitions between old and young. Morphing anyone?
Focus on the Family: Tebow & Mom More unnecessary roughness as another defenseless women gets blindsided in this rather odd commercial by a Christian family group.
Grade: C+ Funny idea but they didn't get enough out of it. I would have liked to see them do more with the hit and with her reaction. Can't she drag him for a couple of yards?
Doritos: Dog Gets Revenge Live-action dog mixed with CG effects to prove how irresistible Doritos are.
Grade: C— Sorry, the stiff animation was too distracting for me to be amused by this. Real dogs are cute but...
Doritos: Playing Nice Guy arrives for date with hot single mom whose son slaps him as a warning to lay off the Doritos and lay off his mom.
Grade: B+ Funny, economical, good enough slap. I think reactions sell the gag, so I would have extended that final stare-down a few more seconds. C'mon, what's an extra $300,000 to milk that laugh?
Doritos: Miracle A guy fakes his own death so he can be buried alive in Doritos and watch the Super Bowl in peace. Makes sense to me. But who can sit still during a football game?
Grade: B— Did I mention that reactions sell the gag? I wanted more of a take on the churchgoers before the friend jumps up to save the day.
Budweiser: Body Bridge The bridge is out so how will that Budweiser truck get through??
Career Builder: Casual Fridays When casual Fridays go too far. More physique than physical, but...
Grade: B This commercial immediately preceded a Dockers commercial with men walking around in their underpants. Is there a movement afoot that I don't know about? Anyway, funny enough, I liked the boldness, but two problems: Aren't most people these days more concerned with having a job, preferably one with health insurance, than they are with things getting too loosey-goosey at the workplace? And though like you, dear reader, I happen to have a perfect body, do they really need to take cheap shots at those who don't?
KGB: Sumo Wrestling Information is power. Lack of information = instant death by sumo.
Grade: B— Again the moment of impact is not shown. Conscious decision or shortcut? I'm visualizing all 600 pounds of Sumo Jelly soaring through the air and flattening this guy, all in slow motion.
Coca-Cola: Sleepwalking Shades of Harold Lloyd as our hero threads his way through unseen horrors.
Grade: B I liked bumping into the elephant best. _______________________
Those were my top ten, but there were a bunch more with physical comedy elements, including the following: • A Hyundai Sonata ad with dozens of hands lifting a car like some Pilobolus dance piece. • A Boost Mobile ad with retired football stars trying to sing and dance, exposing body fat and even a thong. • A Bud Light ad in which the imminent annihilation of planet earth triggers a wild Bud Light party at an observatory. • A Volkswagon ad that instructs us to punch the one we're with when we spot a new VW. • An Emerald Nuts ad with humans as performing dolphins. • A Doritos ad that proves stealing Doritos has its consequences.
You can see every single Super Bowl ad by clicking here, not that I would necessarily recommend it.
Okay, perhaps not "incredibly illuminating," but notice that a lot of them did have physical comedy roots. It sure seems to me that there was more of this, and more live-action than animation, than in previous years, but I think I'll leave it to someone else to explore that trend. And as much as I like physical comedy, I thought the most effective ad was probably the cars.com commercial. Of course there are plenty of polls online expressing different (= less valid) opinions.
And I'll close with a funny hors-de-compétition commercial from SunLife involving Cirque du Soleil performers. It's not physical exactly and it was actually aired during the post-game show, so you won't find it among the galleries of Super Bowl commercials, but I like.
P.S. — Braveaux, Saints! But next year J-E-T-S all the way.
...that you can click on any blog image to see it full size?
[So this is what I wrote six years ago; more or less true!]
Ring around a rosie, a pocket full of posies Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down
Welcome to the All Fall Down blog, an exploration of all aspects of physical comedy, from the historical to the latest work in the field, from the one-man show to the digital composite, from the conceptual to the nuts & bolts how-to. Be prepared for a broad definition of physical comedy (mine!) and a wide variety of approaches. Physical comedy is a visual art form, so there’ll be tons of pictures and videos, but also some substantial writing and research, including scripts and probably even some books.
This blog is a result of me wanting to follow through on lots of unfinished research from the past 25 years. It’s made possible by a full-year sabbatical leave from Bloomfield College that will take me through August 2010. It’s also made more practical by the ease of Web 2.0 tools for managing and distributing content. I had envisioned a web site similar to this blog more than a decade ago, but never got too far with it because it was simply a lot more work. Now, no more excuses!
Just as this blog will be sharing lots of goodies with you free of charge, I hope you will share your knowledge and ideas with me. Feel free to comment on any of it, or to write me directly with your suggestions. Admittedly I don’t see this as a free-for-all forum on the subject of physical comedy. It’s my blog, I’m the filter, and it won’t be all things to all people. That being said, I hope it will bring together insights, information, and people, and encourage others to make their own singular contributions to the field.
I hope to be adding substantial and varied material to the blog on a regular basis, so check back often and be sure to check out previous posts. And finally, a thanks to all of you, past present, and future whose work contributes to our knowledge — and our fun. We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants.
— John Towsen New York CIty May, 2009
My Physical Comedy Qualifications
So if you don’t blink, you can see me doing a pratfall on the original 1957 CBS production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella(starring Julie Andrews, directed by Ralph Nelson, stage managed by Joseph Papp).
If that doesn't say it all, then click here for the full bio.
My Favorite Posts Okay, there are literally thousands of physical comedy blogs out there, but only one physical comedy blogopedia. Why list my favorite posts? Because I want to draw attention to my best research and writing, to posts that make the strongest connections between old and new, between theory and practice, between ha-ha funny and broader global issues. If I die tomorrow, which is impossible because it's already the day after tomorrow in Australia, these are the ones I would like read aloud at my funeral, with high-rez projection of all videos. (Is it bad luck to write that?) Also, please mention that I never voted for a Republican. —jt
Here are some useful and fun blogs and web sites that touch on the whole field of physical comedy, rather than just sites by performers about themselves (not that there's anything wrong with that). Click away!
For the latest posts from these blogs, see below. (Blogs only; not web sites.) These are automatically sequenced by Google in order of most current posts. The blog at the top of the list is the blog with the most recent post. Since the whole idea is to keep you (and me) up to date on current posts in the field, blogs that have not been posting regularly have been dropped from the list; if you've been dropped but are now posting regularly, just let me know.
Here's a list of complete books available for free as pdf documents right here on this here blogopedia, arranged in chronological order; dates are publication in the original language. Clickhere for a Tech Note on these books. Click on the book title to go to that post. More books coming!