Make A Funny Ad, Lose Your Job

[ Posted Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 – 16:03 UTC ]

I speak out today in support of a Tea Party candidate.

OK, I'll just wait while you pick yourself up off the floor, retrieve your dropped jaw, and put your eyeballs back in your head. So to speak. I sincerely hope I didn't cause anyone's monitor to be sprayed with coffee, either.

Sorry to begin with a bit of humor, but at heart this story is all about humor. Political humor, in specific. Because a humorous political ad just caused a candidate for office to get fired from his day job at a Christian university.

The candidate in question is J. D. Winteregg, who is running to defeat John Boehner in the upcoming Ohio primary election. Winteregg is a Tea Party candidate (or, at the very least, he's supported by at least one Tea Party group), running to the right of Boehner. Most political observers say his chances of winning the primary are very slim.

Even so, he has produced the funniest ad yet in the 2014 election season. It's well-produced and is funny on multiple levels. Satirizing Cialis ads, it purports to offer a cure for "electile dysfunction." It begins: "Your electile dysfunction, it could be a question of blood flow. Sometimes when a politician has been in D.C. too long, it goes to his head and he just can't seem to get the job done." The message is mostly a "throw the bums out" type of outsider theme, but the ad is so hilarious that I urge everyone to view it, to see for yourselves how humor can be brilliantly used in a campaign ad.

The ad shows a series of couples (including, to Winteregg's credit, one interracial couple) frolicking about, and then "prescribes" a vote for Winteregg to cure their electile dysfunction problem. It spoofs the fine print of such drug ads both in a super-fast crawl text at the bottom of the screen as well as in an increasingly squeaky voice warning of such side effects as "golf." But what probably was a step too far for Winteregg's employers occurs at the end of the ad, which shows a recent clip of John Boehner joking around with a reporter who misidentified him. Boehner helpfully mispronounces his own name in the fashion he must have heard umpty-gazillion times as a schoolchild. Not clear enough? How about: "BOH-ner" instead of "BAY-ner." Yes, even though this ad is indeed a brilliant work of satire, at its core it is nothing more than a boner joke.

Cedarville University, the small Christian college in Ohio where Winteregg has been an adjunct professor for three years, was not amused. They released the following statement on the matter: "Cedarville University does not engage in partisan politics and holds a high regard for displaying Christian values in the community. When faculty or staff members participate in political conversations, interviews, advertisements, or endorsements, they are doing so as individual citizens. Mr. Winteregg in his recent political campaign video did not represent the views or values of Cedarville University." Winteregg told a Washington Post reporter: "They said because of the ad that my relationship with them will be done. It's over. The ad obviously touched a nerve."

Now I wouldn't want to argue the employment practices of a small Christian university -- they have an image to uphold, and they did what they thought was the right thing in firing Winteregg. Still, I think it's a shame the guy is not only going to lose his primary race but also now will have lost his livelihood over such a hilarious ad.

Perhaps it's my own bias talking -- would I have felt the same over an ad which took on, say, Nancy Pelosi? I'm not sure... I'd have to see the ad, I suppose. I would love to see John Boehner get booted out of office by his constituents, in either a primary or a general election, I will fully admit. But even though I likely wouldn't agree on much politically with Winteregg, I still can recognize originality and high satire when I see it. If his school doesn't have much of a sense of humor about it, again, I think that's a shame. So I do speak out today in support of a Tea Party candidate. I have no idea what he'll be doing this time next year, but I would bet that whatever political consultant came up with the ad itself will have a long and successful career in front of him or her. The field of political ads is a jaded one, and often downright bitter and destructive. Interjecting some humor into it is a worthy goal, as far as I'm concerned, and (to date) this ad is the funniest I've seen in this election cycle.

I also sincerely hope that J. D. Winteregg finds a new job after the election, teaching at a school that actually has a sense of humor.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


3 Comments on “Make A Funny Ad, Lose Your Job”

  1. [1] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW -

    Not much that is intentionally funny comes out of Ohio 8th, so yeah, this ad is definitely exceptional. In the finest SNL tradition, you might mistake the first 5 seconds for the real deal. Tighter editing would make it much more effective...I'd lose the last 50% with the accelerated voice track. Stop when you've made your point. It's an ad, not a white paper.

    As far as I know, Winteregg still holds his full time time job teaching French class at a local high school. Depending on what he drives, the lost adjunct salary may or may not have covered his travel expenses for the 90 minute round trip commute between his home in Troy and Cedarville U.

    All and all, the lost salary is more than a fair trade for all the publicity. When you're running against Boehner in a primary, ANY publicity at all is very good publicity. Two other Tea Party insurgents (computer consultant, truck driver)are gnashing their teeth in envy!

    I do much of this talent is Winteregg's, and how much is outside consultants?
    Breakout, or one hit wonder? At worst, everybody has built their resume up.

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig -

    I dunno, I liked the squeaky voice bit too. I took it as an homage to "What Do You Want From Life?" (by the Tubes), personally.

    The only thing I thought was overdone was the golf, in the candidate statement at the end.

    Didn't know Winteregg also had a high school job. And I too wonder whether it was the candidate's idea (which would make sense in a low-budget campaign) or maybe someone from that Tea Party organization. Whoever put the ad together, though, deserves some credit.


  3. [3] 
    TheStig wrote:

    My personal Gold Standard of a parody TV commercial is the SNL Royal Delux II, featuring a back seat circumcision while driving over a rough road.

    Very closely based on a Lincoln Continental commercial featuring a diamond splitter instead of a mohel.

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