Friday, May 16, 2008


I recall seeing this commercial several months ago for the first time, and saying to the wife, "I bet this guy could sell ketchup popsicles to women in white gloves."

The first thing I notice is the physical grace. Vince puts the Shamwow through its paces with the fluid dexterity of a three-card monte dealer. Cleaning up spills appears not just effortless, but fun.

There's a genius, too, in his hectoring tone. He makes us feel like idiots for even entertaining the notion of not buying a Shamwow. "You're gonna spend $20 every month on paper towels, anyway," he says, palms up and head tilted back. He seems truly dumbfounded that anyone might fail to see the wisdom of dropping 28 bucks (including shipping) on a set of rags.

Salesmanship is one of those knacks that has usually evaded me, though I have had jobs where I believed in the product enough to move it. But Vince has his shit nailed; he conveys his confidence in the product with the deliberation and rhythm of phrasing and emphasis. Robert Fripp once said that technique can be recognized by its apparent effortlessness, and so it is here.

These days, when I do watch the teevee, I always have a book handy so I can just read while the barrage of boner-pill and boner-vehicle commercials wails through my living room. And like most people, I am entirely immune from infomercials. (Somebody's watching them and buying from them, though; I don't know anyone who admits to watching Two and a Half Men either, but somehow it's been keeping Charlie Sheen neck-deep in syndication royalties and pussy for some years now.)

But Vince's little sideshow is actually kinda fun, in the Lyle Lanley sense. I'm never going to buy the monorail, but the pitch is enjoyable enough. It doesn't hurt that Vince has sued both Anna Nicole Smith and the Scientologists. This is the kind of guy who helpfully tells conventioneers who come to his town where the best place to look for strange is, and if you fail at that, he'll steer you to the rub-and-tug parlor his cousin owns. There's never enough people like that.

1 comment:

Marius said...

Either he edits his own page or he has a loyal following of sorts, for someone updated the Wikipedia entry on him less than 24 hours ago. Huh.