During its run on HBO from 1995-1998, Mr. Show not only pumped out countless hilarious sketches (see “Titannica” or “The Story of Everest”), but it also threaded each episode together stream-of-consciousness style, coasting from bit to bit via loopy tangents, transitions, and non-sequitur cutaways that solved the issue of ending sketches by tying them together thematically. Among the many ways David Cross and Bob Odenkirk did this was through commercial parodies — everything from political-attack ads to PSAs to spots for products like Grandma Betsy’s Biscuit Powder. Here are ten examples of Mr. Show’s brilliant use of the commercial parody.
Charles McHutchence and Harrison Greeley III
What better time to rewatch McHutchence and Greeley than in the middle of this long and ridiculous Republican primary election? In this series of personal attack ads, Mr. Show teaches us that all it takes for political enemies to become best friends is one self-righteous priest who won’t mind his own damn business.
The Fairsley Difference
In these equally depressing and hilarious commercials, Cross plays a third-generation grocery-store owner whose success slowly diminishes thanks to Odenkirk, who plays the faceless voiceover for the bigger and better invading chain Fairsley.
Cock Ring Warehouse
What I like about “Cock Ring Warehouse” isn’t the idea of used stained-glass cock rings as much as it is Odenkirk’s boringly monotone old-man voiceover, who makes cock rings seem as old-fashioned as a glass of country-time lemonade, or a catheter.
GloboChem Ad Campaign
In this sketch, Bob and David pitch ad campaigns to executives at GloboChem, Mr. Show’s trademark recurring vague mega corp. They pitch ads for Bag Hutch, Ding Dong Burger, Techcorp, and Grandma Betsy’s Biscuit Powder, and the sketch features Janeane Garofalo as an on-air housewife as well as John Ennis’s perfect delivery of “No shit.” Not to mention the delightfully creepy GloboChem mascot Pit-Pat: “Take it from me: I love you!”
In this commercial we learn of the Worthington Law, which states that a person who makes more money than you is therefore better than you. Thanks to Value Magazine, we can all rest easy knowing that we’re all worth more than van Gogh.
My Father Touched My Butthole
“My father touched my butthole – that’s why I’m on your penny.” I rest my case.
Odenkirk reimagines a typical local law-firm commercial as a lonely guy’s sublimated plea for a friend to hang out with — as in much of Mr. Show, normal beer-drinking bro issues are given high-toned elegance.
Coupon: The Movie
Jill Talley is easily the most underappreciated Mr. Show cast member, but one can only appreciate her talents for the wacky and insane after witnessing her perfectly understated straight-man talents in the extended preview for Coupon: The Movie.
Crazy Devil Kiddie Massage Cream
Sure, the idea of adults rubbing kids’ backs with massage cream responsible for fueling a union between Catholics and Satanists is a little weird, but somehow Mr. Show finds a way to make a creepy thing too funny not to accept.
Stenson’s Mayosturd, Vaunnie’s Mustardayonnaise, and Mundee’s Mustmayostardayonnaise
No other show owns the escalating attack-ad parody better than Mr. Show. In probably the most absurd example, mayonnaise and mustard are finally packaged together into one jar by two different companies, which are then packaged together by a third company to save you even more time. Nothing’s better than the sad look on Odenkirk’s face when he realizes he’s missed out on his daughter’s entire life because he’s been stuck in the two-jar grind.