From nose picking to rectal examinations, TV commercials jump in on a sickening fad


Just in case you haven’t heard, gross-out comedy is the hot, happenin’ new trend! Well, please, dear reader, try and stomach one more piece on the phenom, because it’s seeped into a rather surprising place: Madison Avenue. In this post-Adam Sandler world, commercials simultaneously try to repulse us and persuade us. It’s a risky gambit. Sometimes these spots are redolent with wit, other times they just plain reek. Herewith, a guide to the stinkers, both good and bad.

— Bud Light It’s Sophie’s Choice meets the Farrelly brothers. In the grocery-checkout line, two cash-strapped dudes must decide between beer and toilet paper. Naturally, they go for the six-pack, but — here’s the rub — they make sure to get paper bags. In an age when Austin Powers sips ca-ca-flavored coffee, this spot borders on subtle. And it sure beats the crud out of Bud’s obnoxious brew-shilling amphibians. B+

— Arizona Jean Company A fan at a baseball game is displayed in all his nostril-spelunking glory on the giant stadium-scoreboard monitor. Over his humiliated reaction comes the tag line ”At least part of you is comfortable.” Comfortable, maybe. Funny? No. In the clearly growing genre of nose-picking adverts (including a 1-800-Contacts spot featuring the motto ”If you have to see it, why not see it for less?”), this too-obvious entry kinda, well, blows. C+

— An embarrassed, intestinally blocked, relief-seeking customer confesses to a pharmacy clerk that he has a ”certain situation…. There’s a backup on the old Jersey Turnpike, if you know what I mean. The choo-choo cannot leave the station. The general is unable to deploy the troops.” Buy your laxatives on the Internet, the spot says, and you can avoid such euphemistic acrobatics. Though the subtext is a bit disturbing (isolation good, human interaction bad), the execution is nothing less than brilliant. A

— SmartBeep A co-opting of a famous urban legend: We see a woman who, momentarily left alone in the guy’s car at the start of a blind date, lets one rip — only to realize his two friends are in the backseat. ”That was stupid,” says the ad; thrifty beepers are smart. No, that was stupid — not to mention gratuitous. I’m not usually squeamish, but darn if the gal’s high-decibel gas passing (we’re talking foghorn level) didn’t make me reach for the Pepto-Bismol. C

— The funniest anal probe since South Park. In this ad for a tech-support website, a nervous patient asks his lab-coated doctor some geeky computer questions about megahertz and the like. ”Let’s do a little investigating, shall we?” replies the doc, who snaps on a rubber glove and gets down to business. The intriguingly wry implication: Compared with a rectal exam, surfing the Internet is actually rather pleasant. A-

— Imodium Advanced The colon-corking medicine ups the queasy quotient with a couple of stomach turning commercials. In one, the launch of the space shuttle is nearly delayed because of an astronaut’s faulty GI tract. In another, the host of a radio show dashes out mid-question for a run to the john. (Frasier it’s not.) Disgusting and uninspired, these ads make you wish you had taken a bathroom break. D

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