My twenty all-time favorite Saturday Night Live Commercial Parodies that have stood the test of time, laughter...and the black-bar-covered boob shake!
1991 - Hosts: Kevin Nealon & Victoria Jackson 1998 - Host: Will Ferrell 2005 - Host: Will Ferrell (archived footage from 1998)
I earned my nickname “The Saturday Night Live Guru” in 2006 after contributing no less than thirteen articles, all Saturday Night Live-related, to the website retrojunk.com. With my own site, I am planning to jump back into the articles that gave me a name as a retrojunk.com contributor.
One of the most tried-and-true features of Saturday Night Live, aside from the other recurring feature, “Weekend Update,” are the commercial parodies. Over the last thirty-five years, there have been some funny, memorable, and just plain bizarre commercial parodies. There are ads for (fictional) services, (fictional) products, and even parodies of real products and services.
The following is a list of my 20 all-time favorite Saturday Night Live commercial parodies, in no particular order (not an easy decision, and I’m sure I left out many that people know and love). Why no particular order? Because I had a very hard time picking my all-time favorite!
1. Happy Fun Ball (1990-1991)
Probably one of the most well-known commercial parodies (and certainly the one that endures - it was featured on all three Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial specials from 1991, 1998, and 2005). Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, and Jan Hooks portray youngsters who partake in playing with Happy Fun Ball. The commercial lists a bunch of instructions for enjoying Happy Fun Ball (my favorite is “Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball”), all read by Phil Hartman.
2. Schmitt‘s Gay (1991-1992)
I used to love this commercial parody in my early teens. Two guys (Adam Sandler and Chris Farley) arrive at a house the Sandler’s character is house-sitting at. The house is a total dive, but Sandler insists that the men check out the pool. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any water…until Sandler turns on a faucet. Suddenly, the pool is full of clean water, and men in Speedos emerge from the water, with one of them telling the two men, “You guys look like you need to get wet.” The two men are overjoyed at the prospect, and a hard-core party of beer, swimming, men in Speedos begins. The beer of choice? “Schmitt’s Gay.” “Because when you have a big thirst, and you’re gay…reach for a bottle of Schmitt’s Gay.” Chris Farley tells Adam Sandler, “I think I’m going to like housesitting.” Adam Sandler agrees. This is quite possibly the one commercial that didn’t make sense until the men emerged from the water.
3. Super Bass-O-Matic ‘76 (1976)
Dan Aykroyd, in a send-up of Ron Popeil-type infomercials, endorses a blender that liquefies fish, with Lorraine Newman drinking the finished product (“Mmmm, that’s terrific bass!”) and grimacing. And get this - you don’t have to gut, scale, or remove the parts of the bass - you can just drop the whole bass into the blender. Amazing!
4. Old Glory Insurance (1995-1996)
This commercial has made me laugh for the last 14 years - it never fails to amuse. Sam Waterston, of Law and Order, promotes insurance for elderly Americans against robot attacks. Waterston explains that robots break into the homes of the elderly, eat their medication for fuel, and have a grip people can not break from. The slogan states, “Old Glory Insurance. For when the metal ones come for you.” Sam Waterston’s deadpan delivery makes this even funnier - it was almost hard not to laugh during this.
5. Colon Blow (1989-1990)
Phil Hartman, in a parody of oat bran commercials from the late 1980s, is told that there is a higher potency oat bran that tops his current cereal. The narrator explains how many bowls of Colon Blow he'd have to eat, and how many he’d have to eat to rival the potency of Super Colon Blow. I particularly love the catchy jingle, “Colon Blow and yooooooouuuuuu, in the morning!”
6. Big Brawn (1995-1996)
In a send-up of Brawny paper towels, Will Ferrell plays a giant lumberjack with the solution to ultra-absorbent protection during a woman’s menstrual cycle: Big Brawn Feminine Napkins. Molly Shannon plays the damsel-in-distress who benefits from Big Brawn. “It’s like a big friendly lumberjack between your knees.”
7. The Phone Company (1976)
Lily Tomlin revives her Ernestine character from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. In this commercial, she discusses the inner-workings of The Phone Company. She manages to “lose Peoria” with the push of a button, and bangs her elbows on keys. She says that people want good service, and then says to try two Dixie cups with a string. She explains that “We don’t care, we don’t have to. We’re The Phone Company.”
8. Handi-Off (1987-1988)
The only commercial parody to make my ex-boyfriend say “EWWWW!”, Handi-Off involves a woman whose excess digits are hampering her social life. Dennis Miller (in one of his only non-”Weekend Update” roles) plays a worker who likes Sheila (Victoria Jackson), but tells Kevin Nealon, “too bad about her hands.” So, Sheila uses Handi-Off, which burns off the excess digits with a (fake) chemical called Leprasin - that tingle tells you it’s working. The depiction of the fingers decaying and falling off gets one of the best reaction from the studio audience (compared to other audiences of that time), who all shriek and giggle hysterically. The commercial then shows Miller asking Jackson’s Sheila, “Hey Sheila, pick you up at six?” Her response? “Let’s make it…five!” Also endorsed in the ad…Toe-riffic!
9. Homocil (2000-2001)
A favorite of my college Advertising class, despite the fact that this one aired while most of us were still in high school. A depression-type medication for parents of homosexual children is endorsed here, explaining that “it’s their problem, not yours.” Various parents fake their enthusiasm for their children’s decidedly homosexual activities, such as cheerleading, twirling, volleyball while running like a total sissy, and Crème Brule making (though this father chugged beer while taking a bunch of the pills).
10.Love Toilet (1991-1992)
This is a fun commercial that is always appropriate on Valentine’s Day. A couple (Victoria Jackson and Kevin Nealon) enjoy life’s pleasures together (biking, lovemaking, bathing), and thanks to the Love Toilet, they can now share the joy of using the facilities together. A delicate, fancy ad narrated to perfection by Phil Hartman makes this an enduring advertisement. To this day, it has also appeared on every Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial special.
11. Mom Jeans (early 2000s)
Leave it to Tina Fey and the early-2000s women of Saturday Night Live to star in this one. This line of clothing is perfect for less active mothers everywhere. The pants are complete with a nine-inch zipper and front pleats. Couple it with tacky vests and shirts, and this is the perfect pair of jeans for everyone. It came in several lengths, and the husbands looked absolutely mortified to be seen with these women!
12. Oops! I Crapped My Pants! (1998-1999)
When I was in high school, this commercial had a lot of appeal. A send-up of Depends adult diapers, an older woman is nervous about bowel control issues, so much so that it keeps her from playing tennis. Her husband shows her how Oops! I Crapped My Pants can hold a gallon of feces (simulated with a gallon of iced tea). The diapers are bulky and thick, and the result of one of the best audience reactions since Handi-Off in the mid-80s.
13. Preparation H (2000-2001)
One of my favorites of the 2000-2001 season. A parody of hemorrhoid-shrinking cream Preparation H, a group of skateboarders (including Jimmy Fallon, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Kattan) endorse the product because of its ability to cool the burn and itchiness of hemorrhoids. My favorite part of the commercial involves the group singing, “My rectum! My rectum! My rectum’s on fire!”
14. Royal Deluxe II (1978)
My dad introduced me to this commercial around 1995 or 1996, and all these years later, he still talks about it. Dan Aykroyd plays pitchman for a luxury car called the Royal Deluxe II. A mohel performs a circumcision in the backseat of the car on an eight-day-old infant, all the while, the car is driving 40 miles per hour on a bumpy road. The circumcision is perfect. My dad absolutely goes nuts over Garrett Morris (as the car’s driver) constantly turning around.
15. Tressant Supreme (2003-2004)
Kelly Ripa’s hosting gig was one of many jobs she held at this point of the early-2000s. She explains that with such a hectic schedule, she can’t always find time to color her hair. So, her solution is Tressant Supreme, which has just a little bit of crack-cocaine in it. So, she’ll wash her hair several times a day for the euphoria. I particularly love her outbursts during the ad, her need to dance (“Woo-woo!”), and her great idea for a movie (“Somebody write this down!”). At the end, she laments how much longer she can keep up with the pace.
16. Wade Blasingame (ca. 1999-2000)
No, this is not the baseball player. Blasingame (played by Will Ferrell) does not believe that dogs should be allowed to do whatever they want, whenever they want. His mission as a lawyer is to award money to people who were the victims of minor discomfort by dogs (including a mail carrier who was approached by a dog). The “dog” in the commercial is portrayed by Chris Parnell in blue bikini underpants.
17. Martha Stewart: Home for the Holidays - Topless Christmas Special (1996)
An old favorite of mine, this commercial parody has aired on holiday specials in addition to an airing on the 1998 special Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial Volume II. Martha Stewart (Ana Gasteyer) wants to share all the wonderful ways of the holiday season, including making cornhusk garlands (in 24 simple steps)m beeswax candles, and festive dickies, visiting a Christmas tree farm. Here’s the thing - throughout the entire commercial, “Martha” is naked from the waist up and a black bar is obscuring her chest. Be sure to join her and the Westport Boys’ Choir…even if you celebrate Chanukah, it will be a jolly good thing. Also look for “Martha” shakin’ her breasts to “Jingle Bells.” This is the commercial that prompted me to imitate Ana Gasteyer…at the impressionable age of fourteen!
18. Magic Mouth (ca. 2001)
This commercial cracked my parents up the first time we saw it. It has managed to work its way into the list, as it grew on me through frequent viewings during college. Will Ferrell promotes a device that is put in the rectum, and when the user passes wind, a witty comment is heard instead (my favorite is “Did you watch Charlie Rose last night?”). Here’s my question - what happens to the smell?
19. Woomba (2004-2005)
This one has Tina Fey written all over it. The Woomba, a direct take on the Roomba vacuum cleaner and feminine hygiene commercials, is a disk that takes care of a woman’s feminine needs, whenever and wherever it becomes necessary. This almost always happens against the woman’s will. Even worse, the darn thing cannot be turned off. Ever.
20. Compulsion (1986-1987)
A parody of the Calvin Klein commercials (parodied by the cast of the NBC sitcom Wings in the early 1990s), Jan Hooks is a hostess whose constant obsession with cleanliness renders her unable to enjoy her own party. Dana Carvey, playing her sullen husband, says that he “felt her torment; her deepest secrets known only to me,” which results in a back-handed slap to the face by narrator Phil Hartman…right in the nose. Between cleanliness and Godliness “Compulsion…“ the “World’s most indulgent disinfectant.” “Calvin Kleen” makes the product.
“Oh, the price of it!”
And that does it, my 20 favorite Saturday Night Live commercial parodies of all time. Why 20? Because 10 wasn’t enough, and while I could easily think of 35 commercials I liked, the 20 I picked seemed to endure more for me than the remaining 15 I could come up with.
I would love to post the videos for all of these commercials online, but since NBC doesn't allow Good Publicity on You Tube (they call it "Copyright Infringement")...I can't post them. When you have one account effectively shut down as the direct result of sharing "Good Publicity," you best not mess around a second time (with over 200 videos on my account, I don't feel like messing around). So...no videos.
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