The Embarrassing Early TV Commercials of Your Favorite Comic Actors


Last week, the folks at Gawker did a bit of celebrity archaeology, discovering a 1993 TV ad for the NRA that featured a very young Molly Shannon. The soon-to-be Mary Catherine reached out to the site, emphasizing that she appeared in the spot when she was — direct quote, with emphasis — “A STRUGGLING ACTRESS,” and while we understand her taking pains to separate the spot from her own views, she’s hardly the first future famous funny person whose early work was only humorous in retrospect, and unintentionally. After the jump, we’ve got early commercials by several of our favorite comic actors — all equally embarrassing.

Tina Fey

Still our all-time favorite, this 1995 ad for Mutual Savings Bank reappeared back in 2010 to remind us that much of 30 Rock’s funniest material was culled from real life.

Stephen Colbert

Like Fey, struggling young comic actor Stephen Colbert got a much-needed early paycheck from the financial industry, appearing here to hawk the wares of “FirsTier Bank” — which sounds like some kind of fake institution he stashed his SuperPAC money in.

Steve Carell

Fey’s Date Night co-star’s series of ads for Brown’s Chicken (cholesterol free!) aren’t quite as embarrassing — though the sight gag here is the kind of thing that only Michael Scott would have found funny.

Paul Rudd

To be clear: this ad is like 20 years old, and Paul Rudd looks the same. Vulture is right; the man is utterly, irritatingly ageless.

Jane Lynch

We all do things we’re ashamed of when we’re young, so Jane, it’s cool that you were willing to play a Tony the Tiger groupie and not consider the implications.

David Cross

This AOL ad ran in 1995, the same year Cross and Bob Oedenkirk’s groundbreaking Mr. Show debuted on HBO. So maybe that’s why it seems like a weird outtake from that series?

Rob McElhenney

Good old Mac, never willing to succumb to the evils of peer pressure. Now let’s go down into the sewer!

Seth Green

We like Seth Green, but this must be said: nothing he’s ever done, from film to television to animation, will ever be as funny as this haircut.

Jack Black

Even as a child actor, Mr. Black exhibited the subtlety and understatement that would become his trademark.

Megan Mullally and John Goodman

Appropriate for a McDonald’s ad, here’s a two-for-one special: not only do we get a young and astonishingly perky Megan Mullally as your Mickey D’s counter worker, but John Goodman as Joe Six Pack, enjoying an Egg McMuffin, presumably on his way to a drywall contracting job.