By In Stuff

The Hawaii Chair

OK, well, many of you probably know that I have been on a long quest to find the next Snuggie. Oh, yes, I’ve seen the Cami Secret which finally ends that long unsolvable problem women have had of hiding their cleavage (and also offers perhaps the greatest before and after photographs in the history of the world). I’ve seen the Shake Weight, where women can get muscular arms merely by holding on to some sort of vibrating dumbbell (and yes, that sounds dirtier than it really is). Yes, I have seen the dozens of emails Brilliant Readers have sent along suggesting the next great infoco post.

Trouble is … the Snuggie info-commercial really is a difficult thing to replicate. As I’ve written a time or two before, what makes the Snuggie brilliant and, in my mind, utterly unique in infoco history, is that here you have a product that:

1. Aims to fix a problem that does not actually exist (blankets don’t have sleeves)
2. Does not really fix the problem (Have you tried answering a phone in a Snuggie?).
3. Is still, for almost magical reasons, irresistible to many people.

That sort of magical infoco comes along maybe once a generation, Snuggie is the Willie Mays of info-commericals. How do you follow up? It’s a difficult two-step process. 1. t: How do you invent a problem people really don’t have? 2. How do you go about not fixing that problem with a cheap product you just invented? Thomas Edison never had to deal with such issues.

Infocos were always dumb — nobody REALLY needed a knife that could cut through a beer can — but I do believe Snuggies took them to a whole new level. Put it this way: There’s a mock-infoco running these days on TV for something called “The Neck Basket” where people walk around with a basket around their necks. It is not a real product, it is supposed to lampoon infocos, but it really does the opposite. The Neck Basket is a much more intelligent and believable product than, say, the Ear Lift, which was supposed to prevent sagging ears from women (and men, I suppose) who walked around wearing carburetors as earrings (sadly, the market proved doomed for the Ear Lift — damned Capitalism). In today’s era, there’s no way to satirize info commercials because they are ALREADY satire. They are used, basically, to — as the dictionary defines satire — “expose and criticize people’s stupidity.” And get their money.

So, no, it’s not easy to find another perfectly formed Made For TV product and commercial. Some are too stupid. Some actually try to solve a real problem, while others fail to solve a made-up problem. Most are just not especially funny.

But … then there’s The Hawaii Chair.

Oh, this thing is a beauty. You’ve probably seen numerous people review this product already — heck that link has already had 2.7 million hits — but if you have not seen it, you owe it to yourself to take one minute and six seconds out of your life and watch this thing. I can’t say this is going to be a classic anymore than I can say that Roy Halladay’s performance Thursday will be a classic. It’s too new. But it’s a beauty.

The Hawaii Chair is a chair where the seat spins around sort of like a miniature version of The Tea Cup Ride at an amusement park near you. You may ask yourself: “Why would I want such a product? I like my chair, the one where the seat does not spin around.” Ah, but see, you’re missing it. Cue the music:

Scene one (The Song): “Take the work out of your workout. The Hawaii Chair!”

I love this song. I absolutely love it. I am singing it right now, and I’m on a plane! The guy next to me is looking like he might just kill me! And I don’t even care! It is supposed to sound vaguely Hawaiian, I guess, which is why I think they are playing some kind of ukelele behind the words. And the words clearly foreshadow what is coming. This chair, this amazing Hawaii chair, can take the work out of your workout.

Scene two (The setup): “You know Tamara, the Hawaii chair wasn’t just designed for home!”

So, who’s this guy in the Hawaiian shirt? I don’t know, but I can tell you he is happy. Pitch men are always happy. Sad doesn’t sell. Manic can sell, but this guy isn’t going for manic. He’s going for happy. And he is about to utter one of my favorite lines in the history of infocos, which is saying a lot. He’s trying to explain that while this chair WILL work at home, that is not the limit of its power.

He says this: “I mean after all, for some of us, at least FORTY HOURS of our week is spent sitting at our desk AT THE OFFICE!”

Oh, there’s so much here. First off, there’s the Bill Clinton, thumb-on-top-of-the fist-pump gesture, that I have noticed now is popular in both American parties. Have you seen that too? Democrats, Republicans, everybody, whenever they want to emphasize a point, they put their thumb on top of their fist, and they slowly pump forward, this is the Computer Age hand gesture, the sincerity exclamation point. I’ve started to call this the Clinton Pump, and it’s amazing that after eight rather, you know, interesting years in office, that the Clinton Pump might just be his enduring contribution to society.

Second, there’s the “Infoco Hot Woman No. 1” sitting in the background and shaking around because she is sitting one of of these Hawaii Chairs. And then camera pans to “Infoco Hot Woman No. 2.” And all the while this guy’s talking. The director HAD to be thinking: “Look, nobody is going to listen to a word this guy says anyway, so don’t worry about it.”

And that’s a third thing: What he says. But it isn’t so much what he says as how he says it. The man’s voice inflection is what really make this line work. You know how sometimes you will say something that you expect to shock people, and your voice will rise. Like you might say: “Did you know that the only golf course on Tonga has FIFTEEN holes on it?” The key is the word FIFTEEN since a regular golf course has, you know, however many holes a golf course has (it’s not 15).

So this guy is trying to make the point that a lot of people work, you know, and, like, in an office. And his voice very clearly goes into “You won’t believe this” mode when he says “at least FORTY HOURS of our week.” He says this like this is a revelation. LIke this is some hot new information he had just gotten from the research department. This would be like saying something like “Did you know that parents who have triplets have at least THREE MOUTHS to feed” or “Many streets have as many as FIVE HOUSES on them.” The 40 hours workweek — yeah, been pretty well established by this point. And later in the sentence, his voice raises again for the “AT THE OFFICE!” part, as if this is one of the most remarkable things this guy has ever heard. Imagine, not only sitting at a desk, but also AT THE OFFICE!

Forty-Hour-Workweek Guy then sends it off to some woman named Erin for testimonials.

Scene 3 (Testimonials): “Hi, I’m Erin Lee with Perfect USA. And today we brought The Hawaii Chair to a very busy work environment.”

OK, what the hell is “Perfect USA?” That’s the company? That’s their name: Perfect USA? And why is Pat Sajak sitting next to Erin?

Erin is clearly not having much fun. She’s going round and round on this stupid chair, and her legs are wobbling all around, and she either (A) Cannot remember her line or (B) Cannot say it straightforward because she is spinning around on this stupid chair. She has an awkward “Help me I’m spinning” pause between the words “very busy” and “work environment.” One thing that a good infoco NEVER does is show how utterly ludicrous the product actually is. No, for that you need a GREAT infoco. It is humanly impossible to see Erin on that chair and think, “Hey, I could do my work on that thing!”

To the testimonials!

Infoco Hot Woman No. 3: “Oh my gosh, this is amazing!” She says this while laughing, almost cracking up, which does makes this testimonial, um, a bit less than effective.

Infoco Distinguished Guy Who Looks Disturbingly Like Pete Carroll*: “It feels great on my abs …”

… he said abs.

*The real Pete Carroll on Twitter announced that he was throwing the challenge flag on his No. 19 ranking in my coaches as players list. Upon further review, it is possible Carroll was a better player than Norv Turner, John Fox and Mike Smith. But the angles that we have are inconclusive, not enough to overturn. Sorry Pete. The ruling on the field stands.

Infoco Hot Woman No. 3: “I can really feel this working!” And there’s no question the chair is “working.” She is saying this in that George Jetson like “Um, yeah, I can really feel thing thing working, how do you turn it off again?” sort of way.

And … that ends the testimonial portion of the commercial. Two people, one of them laughing.

Scene 4 (What can it do?): Our old friend Erin says “Hawaii Chair while answering phones! … using the computer … balancing books or filing paperwork.”

Really? Hawaii Chair while answering phones? OK, yes, I’m getting nit-picky here. But, seriously, “Hawaii Chair” is now a verb? The product has already climbed that “Xerox” and “Frisbee” language ladder. It took the word “text” YEARS to become a verb. These guys want that corner office promotion in one info-commercial?

The video that goes along with Erin’s narration is, of course, hysterical, as your very eyes tell you that you absolutely cannot Hawaii Chair while answering phones, while using a computer or while balancing books or filing paperwork. I mean, what, they couldn’t have gotten stunt people to do this to make it look like it’s actually humanly possible to do work while sitting on this chair? Couldn’t they have found a couple of those carnies who can climb that rope ladder at the state fair? That one woman trying to simply get a folder while the chair throws her around is clearly overmatched. And this is what that woman actually typed while spinning on that chair.

“Tkeeeeee wirrvl brrrronnwwn ntpemm foxxxx junmpepd odver tehe lllqaazzzyd= 48d9=og93.”

Scene 5 (Close the deal): Erin Lee, “You can hardly call this work. With the Hawaii Chair, it takes the work out of your workday.”

Erin doesn’t look any more comfortable in the chair now than she did the first time … at one point it looks like she’s holding on to the table for support. But what interests me is the tricky way she changed the chair’s slogan. You might recall from the original song — and how could you forget? — that the Hawaii Chair takes the “work out of your workOUT.” I took from it that this chair made it easier to work out. But Erin, that shifty little Erin, she made it so that it takes the work out of your workDAY. A chair with a spinning seat can actually making working out easy AND regular old working fun. You wonder why Copernicus didn’t come up with it first.

Cue the song:

Scene 6 (The final song): “If you can sit. You can get fit. The Hawaii chair!”

Perfect. A good info-commercial plays on the weak part of our mind, the part you can’t shut out, the vapid part that despite itself thinks: “Yeah, you know, it WOULD be nice not to spend $20 a month on paper towels anymore.” But only a great info-commercial can leave you more baffled at the end than you were at the beginning.”

And maybe this is the secret. Maybe people will buy the Hawaii Chair — like they bought the Snuggie — because at the end of the commercial they could not help but think: “That’s the dumbest product I’ve ever seen. Maybe I should get it. Nobody would make a product that stupid, there must be some redeeming quality in it that is just not coming through on the commercial.”

That’s how I feel. It SEEMS impossibly dumb. It SEEMS impossibly ineffective. It SEEMS impossible that someone would not only build a chair with a motor on the bottom that spins your butt around but also create a whole system to sell them to the public. But things aren’t always as they seem.

It is also true that things very often are exactly as they seeeeeememememmeemdm. Sorry. I Hawaii Chaired there.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

55 Responses to The Hawaii Chair

  1. David in Toledo says:

    In a scene from “Modern Times,” Charlie Chaplin gets fed by a (defective) machine while remaining at work on an assembly line (who needs to provide lunch breaks?).

    With the Hawaii Chair (c. $300), he could firm up his abs, too. Thanks, Joe.

  2. Isaac Lin says:

    At least the Snuggie has a heat-retention ability that its owners can take advantage of. I can’t think of any reason why someone would want to use this supposed product, as aptly demonstrated by the actors who looked intensely uncomfortable while their rears were spinning about. The incongruity of this ad is hilarious.

  3. Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Blog says:

    HEY! The point of the Ginzu knife was not that it could cut through a beer can, it was that even after using it for such a job it could still easily cut through a fragile tomato!*

    Gosh, Joe, get your facts straight!!

    /sarcasm

    *Is it sad that I can picture the Ginzu commercial from 30 years ago as clear as day? And is the Ginzu commercial TV carpet bombing considered the origination of the infomercial?

  4. Keith K. says:

    If there is a woman out there who is able to simultaneously operate the Shake Weight and the Hawaii Chair . . . well, please give her my contact information.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My favorite Joe article. Ever.

  6. I’m waiting for a testimonial from a dentist or a diamond cutter.

  7. Nathan says:

    “You can hardly call this work. With the Hawaii Chair, it takes the work out of your workday.”

    I mean, this is clearly the most true thing in the entire infomercial. While on this chair, I would absolutely do no work at all.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think this is what the office version of the mechanical bull would look like for all those urban cowboys gone yuppie.

  9. Actually, I really want to see a testimonial from a mohel.

  10. Tyler says:

    When you google “Perfect USA,” this is one of the first things that comes up:

    http://www.bobbear.co.uk/perfect-usa-inc.html

    What is better than merely selling a useless product? Selling a useless product AND endorsing a fraudulent company! (read in Hawaii man’s voice, of course)

  11. rela80 says:

    During the original Snuggie debate, one of the comments was about the Hawaii Chair. So I watched the video back then and thought it was the funniest thing ever. But this article, all 2,170 words of it, is much funnier. Joe, you have a very special gift. Dissecting the absurdity of infocos. I am so happy this blog exists.

  12. Anonymous says:

    And, least we miss it because it’s at the beginning, what powers this thing? A 2800 RPM Hula Motor! What on earth is a Hula motor?

  13. The Cami Secret? Oh wait, you mean the Boob Apron.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hilarious! I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe!
    Awesome article

  15. Ray C says:

    Why doesn’t this get on SI?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Joe’s critique is correct. There is no need for this invention. It does not solve any real problems.

    However, there are a lot of products like this that we take for granted nowadays.

    Imagine the first travelling salesman who showed up at some guy’s cave with a chair to sell.

    “What, you expect me to pay money to sit on that thing? I already have plenty of stuff to sit on *gestures at entire world* My grandpa sat on the ground for free, my daddy sat on the ground for free, and I’ll be damned if you want me to pay money to sit on that thing.

  17. Tracy says:

    Speaking only for myself, if I had one of these chairs at work, I’d be too seasick to actually do any work.

  18. Mark Daniel says:

    Christ Joe, my guess is you’re in a hotel room in Texas baked out of your mind with a half-eaten pizza in front of you. That’s the only reasonable explanation for this blog post.

  19. Mark Daniel says:

    I should add, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

  20. k.b.o. says:

    More astonishing product of healthful use for more quality of perfect USA lifestyle. Find at internets site such as:

    https://www.usaperfect.com

  21. Anonymous says:

    So I’m thinking that a UPS guy will be showing up at your doorstep in a week or so and lo and behold, you’re now the owner of your very own Hawaii Chair without having to pay a dime (or three easy payments of a dime each).

  22. Anonymous says:

    I can only imagine my boss’ reaction when I try to justify the Hawaii Chair for next year’s budget.

  23. Damon Rutherford says:

    I believe a portion of the Hawaii Chair infomercial was on “Hawaii 5-0” this past Monday night. McGarrett’s sister was watching it.

  24. Jesse S. says:

    this is just another part of the American Dream–something for nothing. It’s everywhere, from the Beverly Hillbillies to Amway Products to get rich quick schemes to the Hawaii Chair. You can get fit without exercising. You can be thin without dieting. You can be successful without education or effort. You can make money without intelligence, usefulness or hard work. And if you’re really lucky, someone might break into your house and you can shoot them and get away with it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    If you laughed at the Hawaii Chair, you may now have problem wrinkles. Consider the following fine products:

    The Rejuvenique Facial mask!

    or the wonderful Facial Flex device:

  26. Anonymous says:

    Color me a dirty, old man, but the first thing that came to mind when I started watching the infoco was that there are going to be some people who will try to use this thing for some kinky sexual practices. And that might just be its best use!

  27. BigSteve says:

    They never quite get around to explaining exactly how wobbling in a chair constitutes exercise. I expect a future infoco to bring in a doctor (of fitness management or something?) to explain the kinesiology of it.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I notice that the Amazon review linked by Kevin above is not actually for the “Hawaii Chair” but rather for a similar product called the “Hula Chair.” If there are competing versions of this device that could mean, incredibly enough, that there is a market for it. Amazing.

  29. Dark Side of the Mood says:

    Given his actions while in office, I think the “Clinton Pump” is a particularly poor choice of words… ü

  30. Justin says:

    This product will never take off like the Snuggie for one simple reason: it’s too expensive for most people to give as a gag gift.

    Let’s be honest: Snuggies have sold not because they’re actually useful products but because they’re incredibly stupid, everyone laughs at the commercials AND you can get one for $20, so it’s not like you’re taking a huge hit to the bank account when you buy one for someone with whom you’ve shared a laugh over just how dumb they are.

    I bought a friend a Snuggie for this exact reason (and received a Slap-Chop as a gift for this reason as well.)

    I’m not going to spend a few hundred bucks just to laugh at how dumb a joke is, though.

  31. Justin says:

    Also,

    I now have the song “Banana Phone” stuck in my head, partly because the Hawaii chair’s theme reminds me of the “ring ring ring ring ring ring ring…banana phone!” chorus of the song and partly because this chair is about as useful as an actual banana phone.

  32. Kendell says:

    I’m hoping for 2 things – 1) An upcoming episode of The Office will open with Dwight in a Hawaii Chair. 2) That Joe will attend his next book signing wearing a snuggie and sitting in a Hawaii Chair.

  33. Kris in Boston says:

    Tell me you’ve seen Ellen DeGeneres on this bit:

    love how the guest is sporting a cami secret, too. lol!

  34. lisa says:

    i guess the chair makes you lose weight because you get too dizzy to eat

    but what on earth is getting worked out besides your bank account?

    at least the cami-secret makes sense. because sometimes you DO have a nice sweater or dress that is too low cut to wear to work

  35. PhilM says:

    @Kevin:

    That reviewer on Amazon is hilarious — not as funny as Joe, of course, but he does a nice job spoofing the goofy products with goofier praise!

  36. Anonymous says:

    @ Mark Daniel…

    for future vacation considerations, how do you get away with being baked anywhere in the hell commonly known as ‘Texas’?

  37. Brian says:

    It was Michael Dukakis who started the thumb pump. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkAN4DQGmwk (at 2:35 mark)

  38. Anonymous says:

    It’s curious to me that 66% of your poll responders think that Rod Woodson is one the greatest 4 safeties ever, seeing as Woodson only played safety the last 5 of his 17 years in the NFL. In truth, he should be on the CB list. My honest impression is that the results of your defensive player polls tell us way more about the responders (esp. their age) than it does about the skill of the players.

  39. Dave Backus says:

    Hard to tell a parody from the real thing these days. I would add Old Spice and the northwestern tree optopus to your list. And I love Tyler’s link to Perfect USA, what could be more perfect.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Joe,
    How do you feel about the massive amount of “ANONYMOUS” comments, because the new format makes it virtually impossible to put a name with one’s comments?

  41. rela80 says:

    @ Big Steve … this is where I miss the archives (with search engine). Joe reviewed another infoco where they brought out some fake doctor to prove their product worked. We are all sure that man was not a real doctor. But I can’t find the video of it now so that we can ask him about this chair.

  42. rela80 says:

    Okay, I found the video anyway. It’s Dr. Daniel Stein, from the Stein Medical Institute.
    And the infoco, too frightening for words, is here.


    I’m pretty sure Dr. Stein would vouch for this chair.

  43. Anonymous says:

    To dovetail with the off-topic football comment by my brother Anonymous, Lester Hayes and Larry Wilson should be in your respective polls.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I was surprised by the non-mention of Larry Wilson. Wasn’t he the All-Century team’s safety?

  45. Anonymous says:

    Hawaii Chair with Erin for a sitting reverse-cowboy?

  46. JC says:

    If you’ve never seen the WTF Blanket (Snuggie) parodies, they are awesome:

  47. the Count says:

    I actually voted for Charles Woodson by accident, because all I saw was the name “Woodson” under CB and assumed it was Rod. Was baffled to see him listed as a safety.

  48. fhomess says:

    I must say, my wife has as snuggie and loves it. She likes to read on the couch a lot, and that appears to be the only thing it’s reasonably good for, but it works. It allows her to have her arms out from under a traditional blanket while still keeping her warm head to toe.

  49. KHAZAD says:

    It is hard to do polls like this when the average BR is probably too young to remember these guys. Derrick Brooks is ahead of Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell for goodness sakes. Typing that made me have a little reflux. More people have voted for Charles Woodson than Dick Lebeau and Mel Blount combined! Warren Sapp the 2nd greatest defensive tackle ever. Thank God Mean Joe Greene has a nickname, a famous commercial and 4 rings, otherwise he would be #1. The list of safeties shows me that Joe himself knows very little about who the best have been and one of the leading vote getters was mainly (and in his best years) a cornerback.

    In Baseball you can sometimes have these discussions, as those who love the game tend to study it’s history.

    In football, it is those who have played lately, those who won super bowls in the ESPN era, and those that have their own half hour on NFL films. True greatness from before 1980 is ancient history.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, the football polls are a little surprising. There are actually 20% of the voters (1 in 5) who don’t consider Dick Butkus one of the TEN best linebackers ever. (!)

    That’s similar to Stan Musial not being voted onto Baseball’s All-Century team, but 20 obviously inferior players making it ahead of him.

    I thought it was kind of a given that Butkus or LT were the only two players even “in the discussion” as the greatest defensive player of all-time. But I guess a lot of people haven’t even HEARD of the guy.

  51. Ronald says:

    Joe,this is truly one of the funniest things I have ever read.

  52. Monty says:

    I think I woke my roommate up with my laughing, but I don’t even care.

  53. Alice anne says:

    I need to know the best vacation spots in Hawaii because I’m planning to go there with my hubby. Do you have any ideas that would be perfect for a one-week vacation? I hope that you could give me some of the cheapest places there. If you could also tell me of the possible fees needed for our stay that would be great. Thanks

    phlebotomy schools in HI

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *