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Comedy and the Super Bowl

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, February 7, 2006

It’s one of the most watched, widely televised events of the year. Millions of spectators become couch potatoes simultaneously, turning the old television set to the same channel. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, but the football game played second fiddle to the real show that day.

As everyone knows, the commercials are the main reason to turn on the tube at the crux of the early months of the year – not the overpaid athletes, or the possible wardrobe malfunction. From future blockbusters to humorous marketing campaigns, the Super Bowl commercials run the gauntlet of entertainment.

Comedy was once again the main theme of all the commercials, with the standouts being from certain beverage companies, car manufacturers and Fed-Ex. Magical refrigerators, aggressive two-hand touch football and cavemen lit up audiences across the world this past Sunday.

Fed-Ex had one of the funnier commercials that evening. Set in a fictional world where cavemen and dinosaurs co-existed, it told the tragic and quite humorous story of a caveman getting fired for the failure of a package delivery. Obviously, the package would have been safely delivered had Fed-Ex been available, but their services were unavailable at the time.

Some of the commercials featured a soft side while still retaining their humorous nature. Hummer, spoofing the notorious rubber monster movies made famous by Godzilla, featured an interesting love story between a giant lizard and his otherwise natural enemy, an equally giant robot. They fall in love, and through a short montage, a Hummer H2 is produced from their union. While admittedly bizarre, it was still a change of pace from the usual commercials.

Another standout, this time from a beverage manufacturer, featured a young Clydesdale and the famous emblem of the company, a red wagon. With aspirations for the future, the foal slips on the harness and attempts to pull the wagon. After moments of struggling, the wagon moves. It’s revealed that other horses are pushing the wagon from behind, but once again it showed a tender side to the usual Super Bowl commercial.

Ameriquest Mortgage Co. featured some entertaining commercials based upon awkward situations. The highlight of their lineup featured some hospital employees, a defribulater and the wrong words at the wrong moment. While uncomfortable for the characters within the skit, it was hilarious for the viewers watching the game.

Fans of the old show “MacGyver” were also given a treat in the form of a Mastercard commercial. Playing off of their established motto, it shows the character MacGyver escaping from a bomb using ordinary objects. While not exactly humorous, it had a good retro vibe for fans of the series.

It was a little disappointing that there were relatively no surprises this year. In past years, upcoming films such as “The Matrix” and “War of the Worlds” were revealed to relatively unsuspecting audiences. This year had trailers for a variety of upcoming films, such as “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “V for Vendetta” and for the television series “Lost.” Both are obviously household names by this point and don’t carry the same punch as watching Neo leap over the rooftops or seeing the overpass in “War of the Worlds” get demolished by an unknown force.

There was a small surprise in the form of a trailer for the upcoming “The World’s Fastest Indian.” Featuring Anthony Hopkins in the main role, it tells the inspirational story of a man’s quest for excellence. While it lacks the computer-generated punch other films might offer, this one promises to still be worth watching.

Despite all this, it feels the Super Bowl commercials are no longer pushing too hard to stand out. Cavemen, spoofs and movie trailers are hardly new when it comes to the Super Bowl airtime. While they remain entertaining, the commercials don’t seem as memorable as they have in the past.

But one thing will always be guaranteed – monkeys are comedic gold.

Contact Mark Bemenderfer at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.