Video Digest: September 29, 2006

Celebrating celebrities: Stewart Copeland in a bar, David Bowie on the piano, Duran Duran selling whiskey, Michael J. Fox selling beer, Andy Warhol and Sonny Liston selling plane tickets, and a short Superstar selling whup-ass.

In my freshman year of college, I was walking past a bar so intentionally dingy its name was Hole in the Wall. A guy stumbled out, grabbed my shoulders, and slurred, “Stewart Copeland is in there!” I had never met a celebrity before, and though I’m not sure any drummer who isn’t Phil Collins and who plays with both arms can be considered a celebrity, I thought Stewart Copeland might count. I barged in and parked myself beside the man I recognized from so many Friday Night Videos. “Stewart Copeland, I want to tell you something,” I said. Every drunk at the bar set down their bourbons to listen and I knew I had to come up with something charming, unforgettable, something he’d never heard before. “I just wanted to say I really like your music.”

“Aww, shucks,” he said, sweetly, and did a little drumroll on the bar with his fingers.

I left so fast, I’m surprised I didn’t crash through the glass door.

I learned an important lesson that day: Never introduce yourself to celebrities. You have nothing to say to them. They have nothing to say to you. And most of the time, you won’t get off as easy as I did. For more evidence, enjoy this sketch from Ricky Gervais’ Extras, with a brilliant cameo by David Bowie.

Despite that lesson, I still manage to embarrass myself in front of celebrities. That’s why I appreciate it when they embarrass themselves. Recently Cracked Magazine assembled a list they called “Top 5 Most Ridiculous Celebrity Cameos in Japanese Ads.” My favorite is this Michael J. Fox ad, because its inscrutability stands up to repeat viewings.

This Duran Duran ad for Suntory Whisky Q wasn’t included in that roundup, though it’s ridiculous and confusing. But ladies, notice how their cheekbones really pop.

Celebrities don’t have to go halfway around the globe to make ridiculous appearances in commercials. Andy Warhol did it right here in America, with the help of Sonny Liston, who is clearly not getting paid by the word.

The terms “celebrity” and “embarrassing” are relative terms on YouTube, however. By the end of last week, the must-see clip was from a mysterious Tamil movie starring “Superstar” Indian actor Rajinikath. But the real star was a pop-and-locking midget who smokes. Or, as the video’s description summed it up: “dancing litte superstar with our big superstar!!!he dance like usher!!yeah!!” I don’t know if he dances like Usher, but he makes me wanna something. Anyway, another scene from the film was soon found and posted. And how long could it be before we see a story about that midget in the Times?

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