Fed up with political ads? Had enough? Never want to see another one as long as you live? Consider watching just one more. Because this one is fun. No, really! Steve Martin, who made prop comedy respectable, endorses his friend Bob Kerrey for Nebraska Senator by posing as a “Home Crafts Expert.” This is the most unobtrusive, watchable piece of political advertising I’ve seen, one that trades on what everyone knows to be true—political ads are annoying and dull and politicians are not often the most likeable people. Martin’s ad avoids these pitfalls, and it also makes a very subtle point, perhaps without even intending to: politics is the business of the everyday (or should be anyway), as essential to us as the common household items we rely on all the time but take for granted.
Now it’s true, of course, not every candidate has, or needs, celebrity friends. But no matter your politics, Martin’s endorsement of Kerrey works as an example of how political advertising could be done differently.
After you’ve watched the ad, you might want to wander over to NPR and listen to Martin discuss his 18 years as a stand-up comic and his move into acting and writing, experiences he details in his memoir, Born Standing Up.
Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.