One of the most tired jokes in the history of the world might be the idea of a husband not wanting to listen to his wife. We’ve seen it in thousands of sitcoms, movies, commercials and radio advertisements. Brad Garrett and Kevin James have based their careers on it. The joke, usually, is that the wife is rambling on and on and on about friends, relatives, the price of milk at Shaw’s, all of the weeds growing among the tulips, the long lines at Macy’s and whatever else, and the husband is just so bored. The husband loves his wife, you see, but he doesn’t want to actually have to talk with her. Even though the wife is talking mostly about pointless trivialities, bless her heart, she’s trying. But the joke goes like this: wouldn’t wives be so much better if they’d just let us watch the football game in peace, am I right fellas?!?
Today’s odious entry into “Commercially Viable” is a new commercial from this past April, according to YouTube. You may have seen these; the people in the ads are promised a Klondike Bar if they can stand doing something unsavory for five seconds. One of the ads shows two biker dudes holding hands for five seconds, because men should never under any circumstances show affection towards each other, and if they do, they’re probably a little…you know. Somehow, that Klondike ad is not their most mind-numbingly awful. That honor goes to the ad above, in which a man is given a Klondike Bar for the herculean task of listening to his wife for five whole seconds.
Of course, we start with a dumpy “everyman” (hair uncombed, jeans, flannel, a real man) sitting on a couch watching a game. That’s the first problem with the commercial and with jokes like these. Sports, in general, are not entertaining to women. Women will put up with sports and some will root for the home teams and take a genuine interest, but by and large women could give a shit less. And that’s perfectly fine! We all have our own interests and our own time-wasters. That’s what these kinds of jokes miss. Who’s to say the ever-present game is more important than what the wife is talking about? Is it really so painful to turn away from an 11-2 Red Sox-Orioles rout in mid-July for a few minutes to speak with the presumed love of your life?
The gentleman in the ad is lucky he has someone willing to even look twice at him. That he actually managed to marry an attractive woman would constitute a miracle. Look at him at the thirteen second mark. Double chin, greasy hair; this is an unkempt, slovenly man. He should spend the majority of his days shouting for joy from the rooftops that he has a nice, pretty wife who tries to engage him in conversation because, you know, she loves him. But no. Shithead here is a man, so the game and getting a chocolate bar and whatever else he can think of are superior to participating in the natural give-and-take of marriage.
So he makes it the five seconds (which nearly kills him if his blubbering cheek fat is any indication), and as a reward he’s showered with confetti and two models give him a (new!) Klondike Mint Chocolate Chip bar. I really don’t think that receiving a Klondike Bar, even a free one, is worthy of confetti and celebration. Particularly when all the moron did was pay five seconds of attention to his wife. At the end of the ad, the wife looks at the models, puzzled as to what’s happening, as the man screams “I did it!” Yes, you’ve thoroughly embarrassed yourself and you’ve driven away your doting wife. Congratulations!
With this kind of trope, I always wonder, “Why is this couple married?” If he can’t stand to talk with his wife for five seconds without receiving a choclately reward, why bother with this sham? I’d like to ask that to the makers of this farce, as well as every other hack screenwriter and actor who has leaned on this antiquated and unfunny gag.