The never-ending streaming wars double as useful tools in resurrecting shows that never got their earned day in the sun. It can never be said enough that Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson’s Comedy Central show Detroiters—one of the most consistently funny and original shows on TV—was cancelled way too soon. The short lived series revolved around Robinson and Richardson’s ad agency, Cramblin Duvet (formerly just Cramblin), and their struggle to attract high profile clients. The show embodies the silly, unpredictable style that made I Think You Should Leave a cultural hit by flipping conventional TV tropes on their head while perfectly and subtly satirizing the low-key absurdity of earnest regional TV commercials, the kind of commercials with chintzy jingles everyone from your hometown knows by heart. True so-bad-its-good local icons, like Atlanta’s beloved Donna and the Wolfman..
With its binge-worthy 20-episode run, the show has been rescued from Comedy Central’s infamously glitchy video player on the new streaming service Paramount+. In honor of the launch, we ranked all the commercials produced by Cramblin Duvet.
It’s a simple concept, a walkthrough of the inventory of a local mirror store. Lindsey’s got everything from wall mirrors, brown mirrors, and fancy mirrors to baby’s first mirror. But a simple concept proves unexpectedly difficult for the inexperienced production team as they struggle to film said mirrors without appearing, equipment and all, in all the mirrors while shooting. The team struggles through multiple versions as they fail to photoshop out their bodies but the first, unedited cut lands its punchline so hard in just the first shot.
Very in tune with Robinson’s future commercials on I Think You Should Leave, Devereux Wigs is by far Cramblin Duvet’s classiest work. It opens on a woman in a fur coat and a blonde wig riding on a horse, with Tim and Sam horribly singing a very simple jingle to perfectly offset the otherwise unusually high production quality. The ad is topped off with a disclaimer that Devereux wigs are absolutely not made from dead people’s hair, in a very “raising questions already answered by my shirt” kind of way. It would be 10/10 had they not re-recorded the final ad with a professional (aka boring) singer and if the wigs actually did not come from dead people.
In other very I Think You Should Leave vibes, the educational Michigan Science Center is supposed to be a hot ticket item in the ad world. The duo, however, fail to find usable testimonies from patrons of the supposedly popular attraction and must do their best to polish a turd by once again addressing perceived problems ahead of time, a la their Devereux Wigs ad. The kid actors reassure you that this place isn’t just for nerds and dorks, teach us an unusual definition for dork that involves marine life, and that the Science Center is a bully free zone.
Cramblin Duvet brought out the big guns for this ad when they enlisted Mort Crim, the city’s beloved news reporter (and real life Detroit broadcaster), to be the spokesperson for a local furniture store. Unfortunately, Crim insists on calling out terrorist group ISIS throughout the shoot in increasingly intense ways forcing the guys to cleverly edit around his threats. It’s a poor post-production gem that ends with an old man shooting a watermelon with a pistol. Genius.
This ad actually comes from the mind of Ned, the building security guard. Like the most viral commercials in real life, Detroit Optical Glasses’ Hunky Specs ad makes little to no sense and largely features people dancing for no real reason. Our star is a middle-aged owner of Hunky Specs, Dale, who can’t stop grooving all over town until he gets beat by cops. It’s fully ridiculous.
Another outsourced job, Tim and Sam’s ad for this local retailer veers heavily off script when they give the reins to their intern Lea. Rather than the standard local ad aesthetic, she pieced together moments between shots from the shoot such as Eddie eating ham off the parking lot ground and somber venting about his life choices to the makeup artist. Put in black and white, it’s less of an ad and more of a stereotypical grungy, artsy, college student styled short.
A never-supposed-to-be-released entry, this ad simply shows off Sam’s short lived escort services. Going by Sam “The Man” Duvet, he advertises services such as touching, licking, and butts while swirling around a very bright Olan Mills-esque background in a white suit, no shirt.
There’s not much to the original ad, which features the charming duet between Sam and his former girlfriend Molly (played by Amber Ruffin) and some grocery store b-roll. The reboot, however, features 100% more Blade the Vampire Hunter.
It’s just men in suits, doing things while wearing suits. But one of those men is Sam wearing the suits and he looks damn good. Good work, Sam.
A twist on the classic lawyer ad, this one features more sunglasses and briefcase slamming. Really just a lot of briefcase slamming. Do not hire Walt Worsch.
This is a terrible concept as both a business and a commercial, making it classic Cramblin. Driven by their newly inflamed egos, Tim and Sam poison their original concept in an effort to look cool in their new ad. The two compete with each other to play Mr. Groove, a buzzkill who inspires the kids-only club. Unfortunately, the pair refuse to play someone people wouldn’t want to hang out with, so Mr. Groove somehow turns back time to become a teen again so he can party with the other kids. Naturally, this leads to the club getting shut down as it invites the wrong kind of attention from other men.
Three quick snippets, all of these ads are very subtle in their parody and could easily be confused with real regional commercials.
Pete the Plumber: Why did they never receive payment for this standard plumber’s ad? They showed a shit. In a slideshow of Pete’s services, the boys shot a toilet fully clogged with the stuff which, to be honest, is more realistic.
Cash for Copper: It’s just two guys promoting a business model that is probably not at all legal at all, but wink wink, you be the judge.
Roz Chunks: This ad has all the regular law firm commercial beats: bookcase background, “are you a victim of…” questions, and a phone number. It’s the name Roz Chunks and the need for her to include her not-TV ready young son at the end that makes this out just a tad out of the ordinary.
A bit crass for the boys, but again, part of the joke is that all of these commercials are half a step away from being real world TV spots. The sight of the elderly Smith couple, a bikini babe, and a teen pitching a pants tent unfortunately feels like not that much of a reach (minus the prop boner for sure).
It’s not a bad ad, but the boys didn’t really contribute anything to it. A Cramblin product in name only, the commercial features lab scientists testing if a football to the head could stop someone from enjoying their delicious pizza which they based off of a news blooper featuring Sam getting decked at a charity event in similar manner. It lacks the Cramblin charm but It did get them a prestigious D award.
Olivia Cathcart is a comedian and writer.