I had never heard of Billy Mays when I first endured his undesired entry into my home via a direct-response television commercial a few years back. I figured I must have had a gap in my pop culture lexicon; he introduced himself as if I should already know him and be ready to purchase whatever he endorsed in rapt, open-mouthed wonder.1
Apparently, many people do. He has appeared in what seems to be at least half a dozen commercials, so someone must keep hiring him. Which means a lot of people must be responding positively to this obnoxious, incredible loudmouth’s high-wattage insincerity.Normally, I wouldn’t have given him any additional thought, but now I am a blogger, so I have to actually do a bit of background work before I pontificate.He always struck me (for the brief period between the start of one of his commercials and the moment when I finally located the right remote with the MUTE button) as someone who used to either work as a carnival barker, or worked his way up from hawking dusting wands at the Home Show with an amplified hands-free headset, accosting passers by on their way to get competitive aluminum siding quotes.. And lo, and behold:
That’s exactly what he is.
According to his Wikipedia entry,
“Mays began his career as a salesman on the Atlantic City boardwalk, selling the “Washmatik” portable washing device to passersby. Working alongside many seasoned pitchmen, he developed his trademark style of salesmanship. Mays later traveled to home shows, auto shows and state fairs across the United States for a period of twelve years selling various maintenance products and tools, including cleaning products and food choppers.”
I love that phrase, “working alongside many seasoned pitchmen”. What a lovely, sanitized way of saying, “he learned the fine art of screwing people out of their money from other scumbags who had been doing it longer”.
You know, it’s bad enough that many television networks deliberately amplify the volume of their commercial content well above that of the program you’ve tuned in to watch. Now, you have to endure this ass clown entering your home uninvited, shouting at you to buy some schlock you don’t want. Is there a hell hot enough for this hairball?
And let’s place blame where it belongs as well. Anyone who hires him is guilty. And they hire him because he drives sales. Therefore, if you’ve bought something that he’s sold, you’re guilty. Stop the madness. Now.
1Who does he think he is anyway, George Foreman?