Uric acid, the mysterious “Larry Bird” and the indescribable sadness of Subway lunch in a cubicle: The NCAA tournament commercials

Bobby Hurley (Duke, 1989-93)

GateHouse — Despite watching, for the 78th consecutive year, my embarrassing “bracket” spot-decompose into a puddle of semi-gelatinous goo by 3:15 p.m. on Thursday afternoon — seriously that was FIVE DOLLARS — I love the tournament. I love learning that there are things like “Long Island University.” I love watching Rick Pitino walk directly from his first-round loss to the television studio. I love the equitability, the idea that any school has a chance, though that chance is a sad exercise in futility and that school will almost certainly lose huge to Ohio State. And I love coming up, every single March, with a new reason to think Duke sucks; this year, I’m going with that 45-minute-long Bobby Hurley commercial for moisturizer or whatever.

But that said, the tournament is lacking something this year: commercials made by trained adult professionals.

This year, unlike, say, the Super Bowl, the NCAA apparently sold a grand total of six commercials and is repeating them across basic cable channels with the irrational, iron determination of a four-year-old who just learned “Toy Story” existed; I’ve been flipping pretty regularly all weekend and have literally not spent 18 minutes without encountering well-lit Caucasians forced to act as though there’s the remotest possibility of connecting the word “Applebee’s” with the phrase “Bourbon Street.” Here are other things you can learn from The Cheap Commercials You’ve Been Watching For Four Days:

  • The phrase “uric acid” gets funnier every single time you hear it. Every. Single. Time. If you are making a commercial that says “uric acid” 14 times, you have to know this. Though I also enjoy how one of the side effects of this gout medicine are gout flares, which is sort of like saying that the side effects of this diet pill include getting fat. Finally, uric acid apparently looks like lime Kool-Aid but I bet it tastes slightly better.


Everything was better in the past.


  • Pictured: State Farm Insurance

    State Farm is less an insurance company than an all-powerful god, giant evil genie Jafar after his third wish, whose witches and warlocks who will hug you when you’re being attacked by buffalo and can magically abduct women from their apartments.

  • Stealing this from a friend on Facebook, but the point of this LeBron James / Dwight Howard commercial is to reassure fans that today’s NBA players can’t hit a jump shot and don’t know who Larry Bird is? Here, I’ll help: Bird is the guy in the building with the championships.
  • This may be local, but there’s this Wild Wing Cafe commercial with some sort of low-budget cover-band riff on “Rock N’ Roll Part Two”: “Come along, watch the dance with me/And best of all the fun is free!” So I can eat 300 wings and bill the lot of them to a 43-year-old session musician? DEAL.
  • It was nice of Miller Lite to use the sophomore-year drama club from Lima, Ohio, to write and act in their skinny jeans/bronzer guy series, but they’re gonna need their sets back for the spring performance of “Joseph.” If anyone out there has ever reported a score as “21-32,” email me.
  • CGI dogs serving beer at a party. This stupid country.
  • It’s nice of the 17-year-old in the Chevy Traverse spot to take her brother and her friends out in the rain.
  • I’ve watched the commercial for “Hop” 25 times and I cannot make out one single word of dialogue. This either makes me old, or it makes “Hop” look like it was edited by an African rhesus monkey on Four Loko, and I’m not that old.
  • Yes, Bud Light, people were really confused about the realistic properties of 3D until they got used to it in 1955.
  • The color guy just described as Purdue player as “Larry Bird-ish.” This arcane reference will need to be explained to LeBron James, using charts.
  • Aw, look at KFC throwing some love to the Sunday newspaper! The journalism industry appreciates the shout, and will temporarily suspend our many investigations about what comprises your “popcorn chicken.”
  • This Subway commercial, with the guy who loses his sandwich to the hot blonde, skillfully matches the bright-eyed infinity of youthful wonder with the murderous adult disappointment of working in a cubicle and eating Subway for lunch.
  • Henry Rollins is the voice of Infiniti WHAT PLANET IS THIS.
  • You know what’s a great idea is your iPad in the bathtub, because that won’t result in a bubbly $500 electrocution or anything.
  • Wait, Spielberg’s involved with an alien-invasion series? I hope there’s an unlikely band of regular people called to heroism who will stop at nothing to rescue their kids in it!
  • Normally I’d make a witty joke about the Domino’s Pizza chicken, but I’m really, really worried for Tate.

About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

7 responses to “Uric acid, the mysterious “Larry Bird” and the indescribable sadness of Subway lunch in a cubicle: The NCAA tournament commercials

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