ningyoprints

Notes from ningyo editions studio and gallery

The Real Man Behind Bob’s Discount Furniture

Jocko, currently of Bob's Discount Furniture

Jocko, currently of Bob’s Discount Furniture

Bob’s Discount Furniture has gained an almost maniacal fan base, mostly due to the enginuity Bob has shown in passing the savings onto the customer for shit dinette and bedroom ensembles made across the sea by Chinese people getting about $.50/day.  He gained the adoration of millions, many of whom have tabled their love of Justin Beiber, Oprah, Ellen and Edvard Munch to spend time idolizing the furniture magnate.  His commercials tap into the very heart of what we truly want but didn’t know we actually needed (we absolutely don’t); his delivery trucks feature clever wordplay that include a giant, death mask-like photo of the skinny faced, patchy-haired, spud-ugly Bob surrounded by floating cookies with the words “Sweet deals” emblazoned across the design (I get it!).  His stained yellow polo shirt from the Goodwill outlet with a Bob’s logo sewn on the breast gives him an appeal with the blue collar and fashion-cognoscenti alike.

Bob knows how to talk to the tired traveler and the comfort-seeker at the same time though I realize that sometimes these are one and the same person, since if you are a tired traveler you are probably seeking comfort.  Well, never mind that, as the real “Man of the Hour” – the man behind the success of this comfort emporium – is none other than hired hand Jocko Nail, the claymation puppet who has sold more couches per year than Bob, ten times over.  By way of contrast, let us now turn to one of Jocko’s performances:

Those ads we see with the real Bob in bed with his lady-friend invariably devolve into depraved romps “too hot for TV.”  Jocko, on the other hand, has been “married to the job” since Bob took him on several years ago, eschewing women in favor of tireless rehearsals and re-shoots.  Also, he has no penis, and if he did it would invariably break off inside the woman’s vagina as it is made of clay.  He will often go days at a time without even an hour’s sleep (clay needs very little sleep, and, like the Moray eel, often rests with it’s eyes open).  After a wrap, he is rarely satisfied with the results, insisting on multiple takes and carefully culling through footage until he can find a take that passes muster.   An example includes the highly entertaining commercial where Bob and his lady yammer on about some crap-shit bedroom set, only to be upstaged by the appearance of Jocko in full baseball gear saying, to the sound of a baseball bat (obviously knocking one right out of the park!), “Now that’s a clean sweep!” (an underhanded jab at Jordan’s Furniture and their Red Sox givaway bullshit that I am not entirely clear on).  Interviews with the agency responsible for this ad reveal that this was a long night indeed as Jocko, ever the consummate pro, insisted on doing his line no less than seventy times.  The shoot lasted until 4 am, but all agree it was worth it.

Originally slated for the role of Mr. Bill on the popular Saturday Night Live, Jocko was passed over for the actual Mr. Bill due to his non-squeaky voice and patchy facial hair that makes him look a bit like his beard has caught fire, an affliction that follows him to this day.  I spoke briefly on the phone with Jocko yesterday and he had this to say about the experience: “In all fairness, the bit was called ‘Mr. Bill”, so when the actual Mr. Bill showed up at the audition, I knew I had a chance at maybe landing two rolls: Jack and Shit, and, as they say, Jack had left town.”  In hindsight he bears no ill will, and actually comments on the problems Mr. Bill ran into during his run on SNL.  “He got deep into Pecodan, Vicodin… they were all doing it, and no one was hitting it harder than Bill.  All those falls, squashes, re-assemblies took a toll on him.  Frankly I think the shit had permanent damage.  He was never exactly a scholar, but these days he can barely carry on a normal conversation.  It’s sad what happened to him.  To all those guys.”

Undeterred, Jocko began a long run of part time jobs including waiting tables and working at Dunkin’ Donuts.  It was quickly clear that the normal workforce was not his forte, as his clay wrists resulted in too many dropped plates.  When he was demoted to busboy, his fingers often broke off when carrying the bus buckets.  Sadly, his work at Dunk’s proved even more disastrous, as he was too short to see over the counter, and was ultimately fired for eating donuts on the job in a misguided attempt at growth (“I should have researched that one”, he said, “donuts don’t help clay grow at all.  What an ass I was.”)  He finally landed a job doing voice over work for Bob when the magnate started his furniture empire.  Bob initially hired him in barter – a full bedroom set with two beds, two side tables and some shit-ugly crap dresser for $400 that took Jocko four months to pay off.   Tensions arose when Bob spotted Jocko at Jordan’s Furniture looking at smaller beds to better accommodate his three and a half foot frame.  Branded a traitor (though we can’t help wondering what the real Bob was doing at Jordan’s), they were not to work together for several months.  Eventually Bob rehired him, citing “personal” problems for his short temper and mistrust, and today the two are like brothers, much like the brothers in the cult film Basket Case, although in this case they are not actual brothers or attached at the shoulder killing people through the veil of murky, cheap 70s film.  Also, unlike Basket Case, both of them look deformed, unlike in the film, where one was quite normal.  Finally, after almost twenty years, Bob has finally given Jocko the credit he deserves.  It is time we all do.

UPDATE: Jocko will be honored this coming October by The Society of Claymation Freaks and Other Dumb Puppets, to be hosted by Bob Saget and Seth Rogen, with appearances by Joan Rivers and Jonah Hill, and a lifetime achievement award for Buddy Pellegrini, who played the god Tryton in Jason and the Argonauts.

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