Friday, March 12, 2010

Everyone loves a Hammer

This just burst into my mind last night, this which caused me to explode in laughter. Last summer I wrote about how I tend to suddenly laugh while going to sleep. This was one of those instances.

It was a memory from several years ago. I don't usually watch comedy shows like Saturday Night Live or Mad TV. They just sound more stupid or silly or dumb than funny to me. It's not my sense of humor. But, on those rare instances that I do, they sometimes do hit the right note. Rarely, but they do.

It was this sketch parodying American Idol. At the time it was quite a big show. Even I watched it sometimes, but not a lot. I tend to find people singing, with no instrumentation, very irritating. I don't know why. I just do. When someone sung O Canada on the intercom once during my time in high school, I almost cringed, especially when their voices hit a high note and became loud as a result. I just find it very annoying to listen to.

What the sketch was pointing out was satire on reality shows. The host, about to say who won, would hold it in desperately until calling a commercial. Throughout the whole thing, he called probably over thirteen commercials before announcing the winner. It was an exaggeration of the fact that reality shows like to hold suspense as much as possible by suddenly announcing commercials at the penultimate moment. It's a technique to both keep people interested and (largely) to fill up the whole hour. It's one thing I hate about reality shows, as well as the fact that they're full of method and routine. Everything runs the same. Each objective is the same.

The commercial they'd played during the sketch was another parody of the current coca-cola campaign that was running then. It had to do with keeping something real or something, I can't remember completely. This commercial parody was the only one that ran every single time the host called it. The repetition was rampant and nuts throughout the whole thing - squirming host making useless small talk and calling the commercial, and the commercial running.

This was what struck me as extremely hilarious: The repetition had nothing to do with it. Instead, it was the little graphic intertitle that runs when the show starts up again. You know the American Idol one - it's all blue and there's instruments zooming around, culminating in a blue outlined silhouette standing below the title with his arms out.

The graphic they'd created was exactly like the normal one - except for one thing. An acoustic guitar slightly turned. A keyboard zoomed sideways past the screen. A hammer moved forward, turning from back to front.

What would a hammer have to do with American Idol? It's not an instrument, unless it can be ruled as a percussion instrument on construction sites. The way it turned, and moved, and looked, and the fact that it was in an opening sequence for a singing pop show where you'd normally find instruments and microphones, and the way it was so random, completely had me gasping for air as I laughed.

I'm not sure where the team that put it together would have got the idea to insert such a random, unusual thing into that kind of context. And the best part of it was that because the host called the commercial over again many times over, I got to see the hammer that same amount of times as the opening sequence repeated itself after the commercial every time. Just the fact that the opening sequence itself kept repeating was funny. But the hammer drove it home. For me, anyway.

I tried to find that Mad TV sketch on YouTube. No luck. Otherwise I would have embedded it here to visually show what I'm talking about. It was just so extremely funny, and it's not usual that I find stuff on Mad TV funny. Most of my sense of humor is activated through camera angles and movements, the tone of voice, unintended facial expressions, and particular editing styles. Those things are what tend to make me laugh. Or odd little things that pop up, either unintentionally or in a hard to see way. A good over view of this is the post I wrote on December 28.

I hope I come across it again. It was extremely funny. I'm sure I can find it somewhere on the Internet.

Everyone just likes a hammer I guess. Maybe that's why they inserted it between the instrument pans in that opening sequence. I know I like hammers. They're cool.

Justin C.

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