Somewhere between folk art and pop art lies the do-it-yourself wasteland of local advertising. It wasn't easy, but we scoured hours of badly scripted, poorly acted and unfortunately conceived local commercials to pluck the worst -- but most entertaining -- ads filmed by small-business owners around the land. (Or at least the ones that made it onto YouTube before they died of shame.)
8. Trent Bedding Does Austin Powers
Back in the late '90s, you couldn't swing your fist without clobbering someone badly imitating Austin Powers. Yet no matter how blindly we punched our way into the millennium, it didn't stop until "The Spy Who Shagged Me" silenced our laughter forever. So there's really no malice in watching Trent Ranburger swim around in $17 worth of spy costume; it was just what people did back then. This commercial is awful, but you're rooting for it anyway, like watching a play performed by a cancer support group.
7. Marc Norton From Norton Furniture
Marc Norton murmurs like Peter Lorre in countless acts of insanity, casually cursing and generally being terrific. This is history's only furniture ad to become a successful local cable show. The next time someone tells you evil clowns and comedy can't be blended into a furniture ad, you slam their head on the table and roar, "This is Marc Norton's genius milkshake, AND YOU WILL DRINK IT UP!"
6. The Fridge BBQ Sauce
This is just intolerable. After William "The Refrigerator" Perry stopped sacking quarterbacks and fighting COBRA terrorists, he released his own barbecue sauce. Like, literally, from his pores. So why isn't he endorsing it? The Fridge appears for barely three seconds in his own ad, taking a backseat to a middle-aged surfer, the South of France and some orphans forced to live in a cartoon house. No, there's no excuse for that.
This has been called the worst commercial ever -- mostly for the acting, but also for the abomination before the Lord of Mr. so-called Eagleman popping out eggs. What transthropomorphic trickery transpires here? Was he once a woman? Eagles mate in midair, so was he impregnated by a flying insurance agent? Other than that, Eagleman's fine work of tracking down uninsured drivers is commendable.
4. CPA Claycomb in Starship Defender
The first step from cult to religion is demanding the entire universe be stamped with your object of worship. Trekkies took that step long ago. They also prefer the term "Trekkers," because making up reasons to get offended is the second step. Anyway, they need a place to do their taxes, and that's where Claycomb comes in, and where, in turn -- specifically at 0:14 -- a look of existential horror spreads across its employees' faces as they look into the eyes of the Tax Monster.
3. Credit MacDaddy
Some occupations just attract awful people, like spammer or CEO of The Trump Organization. While we've known some swell used car salesmen, they get a bad enough rap that you wonder why one would pretend to be an even more reviled member of society like the Credit MacDaddy. It's like a pimp and a credit executive are dueling within this man, and the prize is America's scorn, so of course their preferred weapon had to be Middle-Aged White Person Rap. The only way this could get more embarrassing would be if he proposed to his daughter's homeroom teacher without breaking rhyme. And got turned down. And then his pants fell down. And he had a horrifying circumcision scar. Yeah, that'd be about what it takes.
2. J. Michael Gallagher Approves This Ad
So you've just blown $5,200 on your mistress and a DUI charge, and your selfish wife wants a divorce. You're going to need a lawyer with a bevy of lovely assistants if you want to spite your ex. Fortunately, attorney Mike Gallagher is here if you need help. It's not like the couples doing everything to ruin each other's lives don't need lawyers too, but Mike Gallagher sets the bar so low he actually broke the lowest common denominator. Like a drunken voyeur, his camera sways and leers at his employees' inappropriate attire.
1. Frankie and Johnnie's Furniture
"I say I say I say" what the hell is going on in this freak-show of a commercial? Frankie and Johnnie take the cake for integrating such disparate elements as repetition, a bad Foghorn Leghorn impression and mysterious and possibly offensive references to "the special man." Everything's pretty normal until about 23 seconds in, which just makes the carnage that follows even more disturbing.