In the realm of comedy, you’ve probably been introduced to a wide array of different kinds of humor. Some comedians may utilize punchlines or hilarious stories that will instantly elicit some kind of gut reaction from you, and sometimes a joke may not trigger a response until closer examination. One particular subgenre of comedy is one that runs on sardonic commentary. This cynical approach doesn’t always follow a rudimentary approach or delivery you’d expect to hear from a comedian, and it may also present an opinion towards a topic that could be divisive and instill mixed feelings. Although, this form of comedy does have quite the following since some notable transgressive content creators are well-established by functioning under this unorthodox modus operandi, such as Filthy Frank, and Eric Andre.
Most of the time, cynical humor is usually just a creative outlet that’s used in a way to sarcastically critique something in our culture. But in some cases, the message and intent behind this verbal discourse can be quite enigmatic and even disturbing. If you have ever watched any show on TV, you’ve probably seen an Infomercial during a commercial break. These are brief television programs in which a speaker is presenting you with a barrage of information regarding a certain product that they’re promoting, and he or she is enthusiastically trying to convince you to buy it out of momentary impulse. Their are so many names I could spout off the top of my head like, Billy Mays (OxiClean), Billy Banks (Tae Bo), and Richard Simmons (Sweatin’ to the Oldies).
Alan Resnick is a visual artist who you might be (or not) familiar with through his YouTube channel, Alantutorials, where he portrays a fictional caricature of himself who’s a socially withdrawn individual who has a passion towards sharing “tutorials” on social media. As the series of videos go on, peculiar things start to come to fruition, and Alan’s already-fragmented mind slowly begins to descend into madness. Besides this side-project, Alan has also gained a cult following by releasing a couple of uncanny Infomercials on Adult Swim, which is the adult-oriented time block on Cartoon Network’s channel. The one that I’ll be talking about today is Live Forever as You Are Now with Alan Resnick.
Throughout this video, Resnick satirically pokes fun at Infomercials by starring as a motivational speaker. In this clip, Alan is a tech wizard who has found a way to immortalize the personal features of a human being. He does this by creating virtual avatars of people through an operating system by transferring their memories into his computer app. If I had to venture a guess on the point of this video, I think it’s exploring on how most Infomercial products are (more often than not) just disingenuous scams to bribe you of your money, and usually pretty embarrassing to watch as a casual observer. I mean, usually they sound cool when you hear about them at first, and then you slowly begin to realize that the project is either too ambitious to realistically materialize, or that it’s just complete BS *cough* Mighty No. 9 *cough*.
^Tech Demo (2013)
^Actual Game (2016)
“It’s better than nothing.” -Keiji Inafune
To make a long story short, Alan Resnick (or at least the character he’s acting as) is an inept presenter. The aura that emanates from him as a person is someone who has a VERY high self-esteem of himself as an individual, and he comes off as uncomfortably smug and pompous. Not that long after Resnick introduces himself, he articulates himself as “smart and small” as a way to try to give the audience a false impression of humbleness and impartiality. I think this portrayal drives home the message that in some business practices, some people will try to embody qualities of a different persona in order to gain the validation of other people. In Alan’s case, his external façade of confidence and grandeur is used in a way to mask his anxiety and self-doubt since showing any signs of weakness as an infomercial speaker is something that a viewer wouldn’t expect to see.
As for the aesthetical presentation of his set, I found it to be garishly off-putting, and the tech that he’s presenting to his audience looks incredibly clunky and a bit outdated. I feel like some actual infomercials are like this in a way in order to bring more visual attention towards the orator of the program. If the speaker has more undivided attention, then they can make their words feel more impactful and resonant with their target audience, regardless of any actual credibility (or lack of one).
Alan’s virtual avatar, Teddy, is strangely cognizant and self-aware; almost human-like. At first, I thought Teddy was a part of this skit simply as comedic relief, but then I began to think about how maybe this was a commentary on how an overdependence towards technology can actually metaphorically take over our lives in an emotional and social manner. Through his computer application, Alan originally intended to build Teddy in his image in order to showcase his congenial qualities as an individual. But in this video, Teddy is pretty much a warped version of the presenter since he exacerbates Alan’s personal conflicts and relationship struggles with his wife, which is unbearable for both Alan and the audience that’s watching.
All in all, I found this satirical sketch to be very fascinating since it possibly conveys how some Infomercials can have ulterior motives that the audience might not be aware of. In addition, I also found it to be an interesting character study of how some speakers will go to incredulous lengths in order to attain approval from other people, even if it ends up making them look disingenuous and insincere in the process.
Thanks for stopping by! If their are any videos on YouTube (or anywhere on the deep web) you guys want to me to check out, feel free to hit me up with a recommendation in the comments. Have an inktastic day, squid kids. Stay fresh!