You may not know the name Vince Offer, but if you’ve watched more than 20 minutes of TV in the last year or been to an outdoor flea market you’ve probably seen his face. And chances are you’ve even seen his nuts.
As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, Vince Offer (whose full name may be Vince Offer Shlomi) is actually “Vince” from the ShamWow! and Slap Chop TV commercials. Thanks to Vince you know that the Germans always make good stuff and that chopped tuna salad is the key to an exciting life. Maybe you’ve even fallen victim to his inexplicable charms and thrown down 20 bucks to buy his crap. So who is the man behind the magic yellow shammy?
Well this much is known – before he made his way into millions of American homes he actually sold kitchen gadgets at swap meets and malls, so he knows of what he speaks. But selling crappy vegetable choppers was merely a stepping stone for Offer, who had dreams of making it big in Hollywood.
Using material previously performed in 1988 as part of his Los Angeles-based cable access show, Offer wrote and produced 1999’s The Underground Comedy Movie for the modest budget of $170,000. Considering that Offer was able to call upon the immense acting talents of Gena Lee Nolin, Slash, and Joey Buttafuoco – not to mention a pre-Green Mile Michael Clarke Duncan – I’m shocked that his film was almost universally panned by critics and moviegoers alike. More shockingly, the film never saw wide release and according to BoxOfficeMojo it grossed just $856 in one theater.
The New York Times‘ review described the movie thusly: “A series of sketches built around subjects like masturbation, defecation, alienation, urination, necrophilia, voyeurism, casual brutality and mockery of the unfortunate, this exercise in arrested adolescence comes with the subtitle ‘guaranteed to offend’….’The Underground Comedy Movie’ stands as a monument to ineptitude and self-delusion.”
Entertainment Weekly was at least briefer in heaping scorn upon Offer’s opus, giving it an F and observing of Offer that, “Star and perpetrator of The Underground Comedy Movie Vince Offer looks like one of those L.A. jerks who thinks that he’s in show business because he shows up at auditions.”
But the most damning indictment of all is the $4 million lawsuit filed by Offer against Anna Nicole Smith in 2000, alleging that she agreed to appear in the film but backed out because she felt it would be detrimental to her career. Think about that. Anna Nicole Smith didn’t want to sully her reputation by being associated with Offer’s movie.
The fun doesn’t end there. In 1998 Offer filed suit against the Farrelly Brothers and 20th Century Fox – makers of There’s Something About Mary – claiming that the Farrellys ripped off more than a dozen scenes from his film. And in 2004 Offer announced he was suing the Church of Scientology – of which he was a former member – for instituting a campaign to ruin him while he was still producing his movie in 1997.
According to the PR release announcing his suit, Offer was broke by 2002 and was forced to go back to the world of appliance hucksterism to finance distribution of his movie. He earned enough money doing this to launch an infomercial campaign for the DVD of his film, and he makes the rather dubious claim that it has since sold almost 100,000 copies.
I haven’t been able to find out what’s become of Offer’s Scientology/Farrelly lawsuits, although I imagine the Smith suit was dropped since she’s all dead and stuff. But what I do know is that in early 2008 Offer parlayed his unique charisma and selling ability to land a gig hocking an absorbent yellow rag called ShamWow! As further testament to his immense talent, Offer was able to make people forget that fellow pitchman extraordinaire Billy Mays had already gone on the air selling an identical product called Zorbeez.
Very nice Billy, but can you do that in Spanish?? Yeah I didn’t think so.
That’s pretty much all there is to know about our friend Vince, so I’ll leave you with some quotes from my next book, The Wit and Wisdom of Vince Offer, published by Random House and due out in 2016.
“You know the Germans always make good stuff.”
“You followin’ me camera guy?”
“I don’t know, it sells itself.”
“We can’t do this all day.”
“You’re going to be in a great mood all day ’cause you’re gonna be slappin’ your troubles away.”
“Stop having a boring tuna. Stop having a boring life.”
“You’re gonna love my nuts.”
“Life’s hard enough as it is, you don’t wanna cry anymore.”
“Guys, we’re gonna make America skinny again…one slap at a time.”
“Tacos, freducini, linguini, martini, bikini.”
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