As Seen on TV

A man walked into an infomercial. He may not have been interested in edible toilet sponges before, but boy, he sure was now! Just look at those colors! Just look at that absorbency! Just look at the low, low price of $14.95 + shipping & handling (or three easy payments of $47.50)! Consider the man sold! What’s more, if he ordered in the next fifteen minutes, he’d receive an 8oz bottle of dual-purpose bleach/tanning gel and a set of matching stainless steel leg harnesses absolutely free!* “Wow!” the man said directly into camera. “They’re free? Suddenly, I want them!” But wait, that’s not all! If the man ordered in the next seven-and-a-half minutes, he’d also receive a one-of-a-kind reproduction of Michelangelo’s David, re-purposed as bath soap and handcrafted by award-winning forgers right here in the U.S. of A!** “Go ahead and take my money,” the man said ecstatically. “Oh, we fully intend to,” the announcer replied, “but not before mentioning our satisfaction guarantee; we don’t actually have one, but the allusion seems to work just as well.”*** “Golly!” the man said, drooling. “No wonder you don’t sell these products in stores; with bargains this good, you wouldn’t be able to keep them in stock!” “We couldn’t have said it better ourselves,” the announcer replied cannily, “or at all, for legal purposes, but now, thanks to your winning testimonial, we don’t need to! So then… will you be paying by check or money order?”

*Absolutely free for a one-time charge of $1,800.
**And mass-produced by molds in a Cambodian sweatshop.
***No refunds, no returns, no retaliation.

© 2014 Tony Vicory.


Troubles at Home

A man walked into a haunted house. Fortunately, he was a therapist, because the house had a lot of @#$% to work through. “I haven’t slept in years,” the house blubbered, weeping through its shutters. “It’s going to be alright,” the man said reassuringly. “Just tell me what the contractor did to you…”

© 2014 Tony Vicory.


A man walked into a travel suitcase… and zipped himself inside. He was a contortionist, so this trick was fairly standard. What wasn’t standard, however, was doing it in the baggage claim area of a large, metropolitan airport, which was ill-considered, given the man was an idiot and didn’t mark the case properly. A label like this, for example, would have been especially useful:

Property of Mark Johnson.
To contact, please open flap.
Probably within, folded like taffy.

As expected, the man was carried off by accident and never heard from again. Some say he was discovered by an axe murderer, who subsequently murdered him with a table leg, just to switch things up. Others say he was discovered by a Colombian drug runner, who mistook him for an overzealous mule and, upon realizing the error, also murdered him with a table leg. Still others say he was discovered by a lonely spinster, who took him home, married him in the garden shed and later murdered him with a table leg and/or a Balinese kitten. Security cameras, of course, tell a different story: that of a broken zipper, four-hundred trips around the carousel and a year locked away in the Unclaimed Baggage Center. This, travelers and would-be performance artists, is why you always tag your belongings. It’s also why you should be wary of table legs.

© 2014 Tony Vicory.

The Bully Virus

A man walked into the flu. He said, “Let’s forget this ever happened, shall we?” “@#$% you,” the flu replied and proceeded to ruin the man’s weekend. (A personal anecdote brought to you by fever, chills, fatigue, coughing, runny nose, malaise, sore throat, headache and justifiable bitterness. No, @#$% you, flu. @#$% you…)

© 2014 Tony Vicory.

Big Top, Big Mouth

A man walked into a circus tent. On second thought, it was a woman, with a beard. Then again, it might have been a sentient beard that looked like a woman who looked like a man. No, no, no — it was a man who looked like a sentient beard that looked like a woman who looked like a man. Probably. The truth is, it was hard to tell, really, because the man/woman/sentient beard had the lower torso of a marlin and was breathing fire, swallowing a sword, bending a steel bar, juggling chainsaws, taming a lion, and walking on stilts, all at the same time. “Dear God,” the salivating ringmaster said. “Please tell me you’re joining the show!” “Excuse me?” the [person?] said, shaking [its?] [head? tentacles?] disapprovingly. “You’re certainly starting this blind date off on the wrong foot…”

© 2014 Tony Vicory.


A man walked into a candy shop.  He couldn’t find broccoli anywhere. After asking an employee, he soon discovered the horrifying reason and subsequently threw a tantrum in the gumballs. Moments later, he regained his composure, i.e. was carried off the premises by security, and raced to the nearest bus stop. (He had wanted to inquire about carrots and meatloaf, too, but convinced himself that the answers would be equally disturbing.) The man then caught a ride to the airport, booked an immediate cross-country flight, landed five-and-a-half hours later, boarded a train, traveled forty miles south, hailed a cab, oared a gondola, mounted a donkey, and arrived at his mother’s house, just before noon. Busting into her living room, the man shouted, “You lied to me! Broccoli isn’t candy!” “No, it’s not,” his mother replied patiently, “and those pills you take aren’t vitamins.” The man’s heart sank even further; he could feel it in his kidneys. “Is there anything else I should know?” he asked, trembling. “Yes,” his mother said, “it’s probably time I taught you how to use a telephone.”

© 2014 Tony Vicory.

High-Octane Formula

A man walked into a 1980’s action film. Regrettably, he was the main character’s best friend, so he died early on in the Second Act. He would be avenged, though, in the Third, after a training montage featuring flashbacks from the First (synchronized, crucially, to a song written and performed by Joey “Bean” Esposito). The main character would track his friend’s killer to a hidden missile silo in the jungled mountains of a place not-dissimilar-from Southeast Asia, dispatch nearly 15,000 henchmen with a 40-round semiautomatic assault rifle, and strangle the villain (a vaguely Eastern European business magnate who happens to be trained in both mixed martial arts and aerospace engineering) with a live electrical wire. The main character would lose his shirt, of course, and gain attractive but superficial injuries in the process. The villain wouldn’t really be dead, however, so he would need to be finished off permanently, perhaps by impalement on some conveniently exposed rebar; after which, the ne’er-do-well might fall from an impossibly high cliff and explode in the gorge below, despite the absence of anything even remotely combustible. Later, just before the credits (also synchronized to a song written and performed by Joey “Bean” Esposito), the main character would visit his friend’s beachside grave and emote masculinely, possibly laying flowers on the tombstone and saying something like, “We did it, buddy,” before hopping onto a shimmering motorcycle with his waitress-cum-centerfold-on-the-weekends paramour and riding into the sunset… in search of a sequel. Following a successful theatrical run, the film known as Friend Killer would soon be bootlegged mercilessly in foreign markets under the title: Murder Friend of Friends who Die of Murder, Part 1 of 5.

© 2014 Tony Vicory.

Art Installation

Georges Seurat - Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

A man walked into Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.* Naturally, the museum’s curators were miffed. After all, priceless works of art tend to become very pricey when a person puts his head through them. “It was just so lifelike,” the man explained, trying to extricate himself from the canvas — and a dog’s butt.** “Lifelike?” one of the curators scoffed. “You’ve certainly got the wrong impression of Neo-Impressionism!” “Indeed,” another one added. “You’ve entirely missed the point of pointillism!” “And might I say,” a nearby optometrist interrupted, holding out a business card, “you’ve probably got a serious eye problem, too.” (Lesson: if you’re seeing spots, please contact a health care professional immediately. Also, don’t visit the Art Institute of Chicago when you’re drunk.)

*Or Un Dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte, if you read French and stuff.
**To fully appreciate this joke, please see visual aid… or major in Art History.

© 2014 Tony Vicory.

Secret Identity

A man walked into a conclave of super-villains. Actually, he ran; otherwise, his cape wouldn’t have billowed properly. (Billowing, of course, is a major aesthetic consideration for the would-be costumed crime fighter, second only to action figure scale.) Without warning, he sprang into action, shouting “bam,” “thwap” and “zowie” as he punched, kicked and finger-poked his enemies in the face and/or nuts. Soon, the villains were completely subdued and then cumbrously strung upside-down from the rafters for dramatic, if impractical, effect. “Who are you?” they asked in unison, because it sounded cool in a movie trailer once. “I’m Fred Stubenfield,” the man blurted. “No, wait — I mean, I’m the Citizen Sentinel! I’m definitely the Citizen Sentinel, not Fred Stubenfield.” Having heard their adversary’s legal name, the villains cackled with gleeful relish, especially the Mental Note, who noted the flub mentally. This would be the man’s first and only appearance as a superhero; it would also be the story his witness protection handlers liked to tell over a few beers in the city of Plentywood, Montana. (Oh, @#$%, it’s happened again…)

© 2014 Tony Vicory.

Bad Connection

A man walked into a call center. “I would like your fanciest call girl,” he said to no one in particular. There were over 50 employees in the workspace, so the man had difficulty spotting an authority figure, especially since they were all wearing headsets — and headsets, he knew from shopping at the mall, meant power. “OK, maybe not the fanciest,” he said, singling out a woman with a lanyard. (After headsets, lanyards are the next best indicator of a person’s organizational influence. Also, the man mistook the woman for a Madam.) “The truth is,” he continued, “any girl will do, so long as they’re named Lola and bear a passing resemblance to my ex-girlfriend, Lola… or are, in fact, Lola.” “I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the services we provide here,” the woman replied. (Her years of imitating a computer had paid dividends with her conversational syntax.) “I see,” the man said forlornly. “You don’t have a Lola in stock.” “No,” the woman clarified, “we don’t have any sex workers in stock.” “I see,” the man said again. “Would you mind checking in the back, just in case?” (A week ago, this tactic had served him well when buying shoes.) “We don’t have a back,” the woman explained. “This is a central office.” “I see,” the man said once more. “I should have gone to the distribution center.” “No,” the woman answered, with much less patience than before, “you should have stayed home and ordered a prostitute over the telephone, in keeping with the traditional ‘call girl’ paradigm.” (She was now a very angry computer.) “I see,” the man said for a third time, sighing. “With customer service this bad, no wonder jobs in this industry are getting outsourced…”

© 2014 Tony Vicory.