A Word from Our Sponsor


By Tom Soter

In our warped universe, the commercials were the fun part.

Usually, the commercial on TV or radio is the time to get a snack or take a bathroom pit stop. But on the "broadcast days" that Christian Doherty and I assembled (sometimes with the participation of Tom "Siny" Sinclair and/or Alan Saly), the commercials were sometimes more entertaining than the shows they interrupted. The bulk of them came from an award-wining radio commercials recording I had (some with bouncy lyrics like the one for the Florida Citrus Comission, which went: "Orange juice on ice is nice..."), but a number of them were done live as Christian and I improvised our way through ads for non-existent products.

Take "Snappo Potato Chips," supposedly sold at Day's Department Stores. Now, Days existed – it was a chain that Christian frequented during his summer vacations in Maine – but Snappo was just a flight of fancy. You can see it develop over the two spots included on this page. Christian is reading a "local" (as opposed to "network") ad spot for Days when he notices I am eating potato chips. He then gets the idea to feed the chips to his dog, Jake, whom he renames "Snappo, the dog." He puts the microphone to the dog's mouth and records him chewing. And thus a commercial and character are born. (Snappo returns in a sequel, in which Christian challenges me to eat as many chips – 35 – as Snappo has. I then come up with a slogan, inspired by Lay's: "No one, not even Snappo, can eat just one," which doesn't make much sense if you think about it: since when were dogs known for their self-restraint?)

BOOKMASTERS is something else again. Supposedly a regular show and not an ad, it seems to be a precursor of the infomercials that now appear regularly on early morning cable stations. It was a one-shot program that Siny and I concocted because, I guess, we liked to visit the now-defunct chain of Bookmasters bookstores.

All of which begs the question of why create/run commercials at all in our programs? Simple. In our bizarre world, commercials gave the shows legitimacy and also more closely aped the format of real-world broadcasting.

I didn't say we weren't strange.

Listen to:
Shop at Days
Taped: 1971. The first appearance of Snappo.

Taped: 1971. The return of the potato-chip-eating dog.

Taped 1970. A one-shot program about the bookstore chain.