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How do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it

We need your business, we're going out of business

We'll give you the business

Get on the business end of our going-out-of-business sale.
Tom Waits, Step Right Up
Come on down to Crazy Al's! Where you'll find our prices average, but I'm F*** ing NUTS! You'll come for the free refreshments, but you'll stay or I'll CUT YA'!
Unknown stand-up comic, Just for Laughs

A weird mutant kind of ad that tends to turn up in lesser time slots, wherein the proprietor of a discount retail outlet yells about how he's gone completely mad, and that his insanity is manifesting itself as his selling his wares at prices so unprofitably low that only a lunatic would set them. No doubt because of the owner's deranged price-slashing, many of these stores seem to be perpetually on the verge of going out of business, holding innumerable closing down sales where "everything must go!!!". They also often refer to the owner's mental state right in the name of the store, e.g. Crazy Larry's Carpet Emporium.

Arguably originated by the Crazy Eddie consumer electronics chain that existed in the Northeastern United States from 1971 to 1989. It was famous for the fast-talking, near-frothing announcer Jerry Carroll (contrary to popular belief, not Crazy Eddie himself) who, clad in turtleneck and sports jacket, would stick his face into the camera and spread his arms wide to give the company's trademark slogan, "Hey-heh-heh-heh hey, it's Ca-raaazy Eddie! With prices so low, they're practically IN-SA-A-A-A-A-ANE!"

Of course ol' Eddie himself might have been inspired by Madman Muntz.

Examples of Insane Proprietor include:


Advertising

  • Crazy Eddie, of course.
  • The ads for mattress chain Sit 'n Sleep have a variation of this, with the owner promising huge discounts as his accountant scolds him for losing his mind. They even managed to work in a non-slogan Catch Phrase: "You're killing me, Larry!"
  • An electronics store called "Crazy Gideon's" in the Los Angeles area had some interesting ads, usually featuring policemen and/or doctors trying to take him away. His catch phrase was "He may be crazy but he's not stupid!".
  • The Canadian furniture chain "The Brick" used this type of advertising when it first expanded into Western Canada. The company president, Michael Dell (no, not that one), would jump through a paper banner and yell "IT'S THE BRICK!" The store's weekly flyer for the week before Halloween 1987 featured a full-size photo of Michael Dell's head printed on cardboard, suitable for cutting out and using as a mask.
  • When driving from Michigan (a state in which fireworks are illegal) to Indiana (where they are legal), one encounters nearly a dozen billboards for Crazy Kaplan's Firework Warehouse.
    • Err, the statement that fireworks are illegal in Michigan is kinda misleading, since, y'know, I live in Michigan and the lake I live on has two huge firework shows, not to mention I myself have lit fireworks...
      • Fireworks shows are run by professionals and are rather unrelated to the personal fireworks laws we're thinking of.
    • "Buy one, get six free!"
    • Many out-of-state customers fail to realize the biggest irony of all in this: these fireworks aren't actually legal in Indiana to use, only to buy/sell (though the prohibition on firing them is largely unenforced). This is less frequently misunderstood since a new law several years ago started requiring buyers to sign a card agreeing to leave the state before firing them off. Before the cards were instituted, most buyers who came into the state from Illinois and Michigan believed that they were completely unregulated in Indiana, despite the signs referring to them as "out-of-state" fireworks.
    • Firework stands tend to use mental instability as a selling point. There was a billboard for Joker Joe's - "Hurry, hurry/This is it/Watch the Joker/Throw a fit"
      • If you're going to buy explosives, lunatics seem a natural starting point.
  • There was a bygone advertising campaign in Australia, in which an electrical goods purveyor sat on a rocking chair with an deranged look, as the announcer said, "Ken Bruce has gone mad, Ken Bruce has gone mad -- [shouting] Ken Bruce has gone completely MAD!"
    • And don't get us started on Mr Bankrupt, who seems to have finally genuinely closed down. Thank ye gods.
      • On the other hand, Designer Direct has been closing down for as long as anybody can remember.
  • The US ads for Mario Kart Wii featured a hyper-stereotypical southern used-kart salesman, Cowboy Jed.
  • ABC Warehouse has Gordy, who is portrayed more as scatter-brained than raving.
  • The notorious "Big Bill Hell's" ad (apparently passed around on video in Maryland during The Nineties, now made famous by YouTube) is a Cluster F-Bomb of insanity mixed with Brutal Honesty:

 Bring your trade, bring your title, bring your wife! We'll fuck her! That's right, we'll fuck your wife! Because at Big Bill Hell's, you're fucked six ways from Sunday!

  • Pretty much anyone in the northeastern United States who watches much TV will be familiar with Bob's Discount Furniture and its proprietor's wacky sales pitches with cheesy special effects. To be fair, they do offer some pretty nice free cookies, candy, and coffee. Come on dowwwwwwwn!
  • Similarly, anyone living in Central Florida will be familiar with Appliance Direct owner Sam Pak and his intense love of appliances. He's doesn't come across as crazy, though, so much as just really enthusiastic obnoxious. The screaming and slamming, particularly, grates.
  • A car dealer in Kansas City pulled a "craaazy" stunt where he decided to camp out on top of the dealership until he sold X amount of cars. Being a Boy Scout, I was not impressed. He had a portajohn and access to the coffee machine downstairs.
  • Steve Ballmer. Hell, I'm feeling like buying Windows 1.0 right now! And he did it again for Windows XP! Sweet merciful Jesus, please let that be a self-deprecating parody.
  • Mattress Mack of Gallery Furniture in Houston, Texas fit this trope with his long-running TV commercials where he ended every commercial with the slogan, "Gallery Furniture really will saaaaave you money!" Mattress Mack himself played the part of the crazed owner.
  • Among the permanent slogans for Honest Ed's in Toronto: "Honest Ed's a nut, but look at the cashew save!"
  • The New Orleans area had "Wild Bill Watson" who sold cars in cowboy costume screaming "I'm WIIIIILD" until hit with a Calming Pie.
  • Burger King has an ad where they claim that their low prices are a result of their disturbing mascot "The King" going insane.
  • A company that shall go unmentioned referenced and rejected this while selling memory-enhancement pills over the radio: they were giving away a free bottle to anyone who signed up to get one, but rather than "CRAZY," they were "CONFIDENT that once you TRY IT you'll BUY IT!" (Actually, they were confident that once you tried it, and were automatically put on a second list that charged your credit card every month for a different pill than the one mentioned in the commercial, you wouldn't remember why you were being charged for it and wouldn't bother to jump through the hoops necessary to unsubscribe.)
  • Though it's not intentional and mentions nothing about prices, Sammy Stephens certainly fits the bill.
  • The Other Wiki suggests that Earl "Madman" Muntz might have originated the schtick before Crazy Eddie.
    • Received a dubious Shout-Out in Barton Fink, where John Goodman's salesman character Charlie Meadows turns out to be psychopathic serial killer Karl "Madman" Mundt.
  • A local Dell chain in Utah had an unfortunate run in with a Crazy Proprietor who actually was as insane as his commercials implied; his business eventually ended up tanking because of it.
  • Exhibit A: Russell Oliver, owner of Canada's Oliver Jewellery, and certifiably batshit insane. He even has a YouTube channel showing how insane his commercials are.
    • He's recently started buying silver, so naturally his latest commercial has him covered head to toe in silver body paint.
  • In the late 70's and early 80's, Knoxville, TN television was graced by commercials for "Mad" Jack Fielden's Furniture Warehouse Outlet. His first commercial was relatively straightforward, just stating they have low prices, and then Mad Jack added, "sometimes we have damaged furniture." His sidekick replied "but Mad Jack we don't have any damaged furniture." He then pulled out a baseball bat, smashed a mirror, and said "we do now!" He also got in legal hot water for hiring a "human fly" to climb the tallest building it town as a publicity stunt.
  • In the Portland area, we Oregonians have the Outrageous Audio guy , who advertises various pieces of audio equipment "UNTIL THEY'RE GONE!"
  • According to Sarah Silverman, her dad was a businessman who ran commercials like this.
  • The UK has Safestyle Windows: "You buy one, you get one free! I said, you buy one, you get one free!!"
  • Who's more insane than Mel Lastman's Bad Boy? NOOOOOOOOOBODY!


Comics

  • Michael Leunig did a comic showing a page of small newspaper ads all in this form, starting normal and getting wierder. The last one was for a politician.
  • During a Sunday strip of Piranha Club, a money-grubbing doctor tried a "Crazy Eddy" style of adverts to get people to come to his clinic. Naturally what works for a car dealership isn't going to work for a Doctor.


Films -- Animation

  • The TV in The Brave Little Toaster imitates this spiel to get Rob to go down to the junkyard to find his old appliances, turning "Ernie's Disposal" into "Crazy Ernie's Amazing Emporium of TOTAL BARGAIN MADNESS!"
  • Disney's Aladdin has a brief scene with Crazy Hakim's Discount Fertilizer.


Films -- Live Action

  • Spoofed in UHF, where "Crazy Ernie" tells the audience "If nobody comes down here and buys a car in the next hour, I'm gonna club this baby seal. That's right! I'm gonna club this seal to make a better deal. You know I'll do it, too, cause I'm crazy!"
  • Referenced in the John Sayles movie City of Hope: one minor character is the owner/advertiser of "Mad Anthony's" chain of discount electronics stores. Another, a schizophrenic homeless man, wanders the streets muttering bits of the commercials interspersed with whatever comes out of his brain: "Help, help. We need help clearing our warehouse. Of these fantastic bargains. All your electronics needs under one roof. Under one roof. Psychoses, neuroses. Dementia, amnesia. Schizoid, paranoid, psychotropic seizure. Why settle for less when you can have it all?"
  • In Short Circuit 2, there is Manic Mike, clearly a spoof of Crazy Eddie.
  • In Splash, Madison is momentarily frightened by an actual Crazy Eddie ad that pops up on the TV she's watching with her face mere inches from the screen.
  • Beetlejuice does the insane proprietor shtick on a tv ad sent exclusively to the Maitlands, where he promises "I'll eat anything you want me to eat, I'll swaller anything you want me to swaller!"
  • The Muppet Movie has Milton Berle playing "Mad Man Mooney" the owner of Mad Man Mooney's Hubcap Heaven used car lot.


Live Action TV

  • When a car is being given away on The Price Is Right, Drew Carey often refers to Rachel, the model who usually stands next to the car, as "Crazy Rachel."
  • X-Play featured "Crazy Adam's Import Imporium", which contained several rip-offs of real games and imports. The owner is just straight criminally insane, with antics that include his rantings, saying he's going to make a woman suit, and preparing to take a sledgehammer to the head of a tied up employee. His theme song was "Crazy, crazy, crazy, Adam; crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy Adam!"
    • "God speaks to me and tells me to DO things... HORRIBLE THINGS!!!"
  • Parodied, once again, by the Crazy Warehouse Guy in The Chaser's War on Everything. He usually advertises Persian rugs, as those are the most common things "crazy" people sell in Australia (for whatever reason).
    • He's a very specific parody of a series of ads for warehouse sales in which the (unseen) narrator would scream every single word at the top of his lungs. "PERSIAN RUGS FIVE BUCKS, JUST FIVE BUCKS!" were a common fixture, but they also advertised used CDs or slightly damaged clothing, among other things.
      • The Crazy Warehouse Guy also went out and about, buying lunch at McDonald's (yelling out the entire price menu in the process) and asking a passerby for directions.
      • He even does this in church: "OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN MASSIVELY HALLOWED BY THY NAME! OUR KINGDOM COME BEFORE CLOSE OF BUSINESS TODAY! ON EARTH DIRECT IMPORT FROM HEAVEN! GIVE US OUR DAILY BREAD AT NEVER TO BE REPEATED PRICES! FREE HOME DELIVER US FROM EVIL. FOR THINE IS THE POWER AND GLORY FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY AMEN!"
    • The Chaser parodied it again with more Persian Rug warehouses. Julian went around saying he was from the Rug Proprietors Guild, telling people to have a Closing Down sale...it didn't matter if they weren't actually closing down. And he made the manager roll himself up in a carpet. Ah, memories...
  • Australia again, but from the 1980's, The Dodgy Brothers from sketch show Australia You're Standing In It. Every "ad" they made, for every product they sold, emphasized that they had BOTH "gone crazy."
  • In Newhart, when Dick is roped into co-hosting a home shopping program, he hams it up by billing himself as "Strange Dick Loudon" and, after saying he must be "all wet" to offer such bargains, spraying himself with seltzer.
  • The Sofa King's advert in Friends: "I'm so upset, I'm going to slash my... PRICES!!!"
  • Seinfeld: "Nobody beats me, because I'm the Wiz!"
  • Dee plays an Insane Proprietor character when she and Charlie in ~It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia~ decide to make a viral video to advertise the bar. Charlie doesn't think it's complete without beaning her directly in the face with a ball.
  • Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! absolutely loves this trope. You can expect at least one Show Within a Show television ad featuring this trope per episode, often more.
    • "I touched a clown; now I'm going out of business!!!"
  • Rules of Engagement: Jeff only buys electronics from stores like owned by Insane Proprietors, because crazy store owners offer the best deals.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000, "Attack of the The Eye Creatures," in a police station:

 Susan: [distressed] Oh, Daddy, these people are crazy!

Crow: Their prices are so low!

  • The dad in Roundhouse did this for a garage sale. Until led away for apparent insanity.


Theme Parks

  • Parodied in, of all things, the JAWS Ride at Universal Studios Orlando. Like most of the rides there, the waiting line has TV hanging from the ceiling showing fake commercials and programs related to the theme of the ride -- in Jaws's case, stuff about Amity. One of the commercials features a Crazy Eddie, who LITERALLY WRECKED THE ELECTRONICS he was peddling ON-CAMERA so he could give you the "discounted" prices. Complete with a miserable complaining accountant.
  • The line for Space Mountain at Disneyland used to have TVs with a similar programming loop, including an Insane Proprietor selling used spaceships. Sadly, it was eliminated when Space Mountain got remodeled.


Video Games

  • Parodied by ~Baldur's Gate~, of all things.

 "Hi, I'm Well-Adjusted Al, and my prices are sensible. I used to be called Crazy Al, but therapy has convinced me that selling plate armour for 3 gold pieces and a small duck was no way to get ahead in business."

  • The Animal Crossing series has one of these guys in Crazy Redd, a fox with a decidedly sketchy store. He claims to be selling things at cutthroat prices, but in actuality peddles his wares for twice what the local general store sells them. The game heavily implies that he's selling stolen goods, and in Wild World, some of the paintings he sells are actually forgeries.
    • Some?! Try most!
    • Why would he sell forgeries and stolen goods at inflated prices? Isn't the whole point of theft and forgery to cut costs in order to undercut legitimate competition?
      • Some of crazy Redd's items are exclusive to his store. Given that many if not most of these are part of sets an increased price as well as increased rarity becomes part and parcel of completing many sets. As to why Tom Nook doesn't stock these items himself, often ones that he would have no reason to exclude given his sales of other similar items (chess pieces for example). As for the paintings, he's CRAZY!
  • The Edutainment Game Math Heads had "Irrational Eddie" during the fake commercial breaks, who spoke with a very wet voice, trying to peddle irrational numbers and other mathematical peculiarities.

 Irrational Eddie: Irrr-ational Eddie here! With Irrr-ational Numbers! At Irrr-ational Prices! We've got roots of negative numbers and decimals that go on infinitely and NEVER repeat themselves! Why?! BECAUSE I'M IRRATIONAL!

  • The Monkey Island series has reoccurring character Stan, a manic salesman who gets locked into a coffin in the second game and released in the third, has been the proprietor of a used-coffin business, used-crypt business, used-ship business, and life insurance salesman, plus others.
  • Subverted by Fallout 3's Crazy Wolfgang, who is actually completely sane and just has a more involved sales pitch than the rest of the merchants -- his prices are exactly the same as everyone else's.
    • Considering the ridiculous missions Moira sends you on, she's a lot closer to this trope than any other merchant in the game.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has the hidden Wind-Brahmin Salesman. Being a Nightkin, he is likely actually insane.
  • Played totally straight in Plants vs. Zombies, where the shop you buy seeds and the like from is run by Crazy Dave, and called Crazy Dave's Twiddydinkies. Dave himself is a blabbering lunatic who wears a pot as a hat and frequently yells "Buy now! I'M CRAAAAAAZY!!!" at the player whilst frothing at the mouth and shaking. Quite bizarre, but a nice calm experience compared to the rest of the game...
  • The remake of The Bards Tale featured a town overrun by undead vikings, but one shopkeeper had stuck around. Crazy Thorvald plays this trope to a T.


Web Comics

  • Parodied with Tom the Dancing Bug's "Crazy Morty", where Crazy Morty's ad copy was nothing but a disjointed stream of nonsensical rambling, followed by a note from his psychiatrist confirming that Morty suffered from advanced schizophrenia and was therefore incapable of setting prices to conform to market value.
    • "Parking in my gums!"
  • The "Monster Mart" ads in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja resemble this format, and were probably inspired by it.

 Martin: Here at Monster-Mart, the prices are simply... hrrrk! RRNNNGHHHAAAAH! (hulks out) Monstrous!


Web Original

 A era in discount merchandising came to an end Sunday, when the last of the famed Sane Freddie’s electronics stores closed its doors, a victim of what one industry analyst termed “the trend toward psychosis in American retail.”


Western Animation

  • Also spoofed by Futurama, who presented the robot car dealer "Malfunctioning Eddie". When he gets too excited, his head explodes. When he turns up in a robot asylum in a later episode, Fry remarks "I guess his prices really were insane."
    • It turns out he's in the asylum to cure his excitement-triggered exploding. By the last time we see him, it just causes a little pop on his shoulder, which he's told can be handled with medication.
  • Yet another Crazy Larry, from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Why are his prices so low? "Because he's loooooocoooooo!!"
  • Also spoofed on Sheep in The Big City, with an advertisement of a proprietor who may have been genuinely insane: selling an elephant for five cents, but a peanut for "a million, billion dollars!"

 "Why the weird prices? Because I'm a sil-ly loo-ny bird!"

  • A variant pops up in SpongeBob SquarePants, with Angry Jack's Shell Emporium. "Jack is really angry! Don't bring your kids."
    • Another variant in SpongeBob SquarePants is the guy whose selling vacation homes by screaming "GET OUTTA TOWN!" at people.
  • In Family Guy, a joke that is used more than once is the "Wacky Wavy Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man!" Due to a shipping error the Wacky Wavy Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man Emporium and Warehouse is currently overstocked on all Wacky Wavy Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men and I am passing the savings on to YOOUUUUUUUU!

  Cleveland: "I haven't witnessed pandemonium like this since 'Ridiculous Day' down at the deli: when prices were so low, they were ridiculous."

  • Parodied in Invader Zim, with the Krazy Taco food chain and its mascot, a screaming man in a taco suit.

 Krazy Taco Mascot: So take it from me, the Krazy Taco! You won't find a crazier taco then the ones you'll find at the Krazy Taco! Remember, our Drive-Thru's open the whole niiight! Sweet jumpin' chili bean, I'm CRAZY!!

GIR: Must obey the taco man!

  • Played straight in Inspector Gadget's Last Case, with "Crazy Eddie's Used Car Lot". Here, Crazy Eddie is a used-car salesman who dresses like a superhero in commercials; the gag here is that he sold long-since decommissioned cars that once belonged to superheroes; at one point he gets the Gadgetmobile itself in his lot. It's promptly bought up by Dr. Claw himself, masquerading as "Devon Debonair" in his effort to destroy Inspector Lieutenant Gadget once and for all.
  • Mr. Stereo, of Mr. Stereo's Crazy Stereo Warehouse on Kappa Mikey, is another one whose insanity is not an act. If someone beats his prices, he's promised to eat garbage, jump out of a plane (without a parachute), and/or marry a piano. At the end of his ad, he breaks a window with his face. Don't ask about what he's like in person, it'd take up too much of the page with the antics.
  • An episode of Tiny Toon Adventures centering around the prom has "Crazy Tazzy's House of Tuxes", where the already-established-as-several-kinds-of-insane Taz applied these tactics to selling formal wear, of all things. The commercial featured Taz grunting, spitting, and spinning his way through cutting prices on tuxedos as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck chased him in white coats with butterfly nets.

 Taz: Crazy Tazzy's House of Tuxes! Me prices insane! ME INSANE!

    • There's also the bike salesman who will eat a bucket of scorpions if you're not satisfied with the trade-in on your old bike. Guess what ends up happening...
  • One skit on Aaaagh It's the Mr. Hell Show had a crazy salesman selling appliances, stating that if he cannot get you a better price than the other guys, he would cut his eyelids off with pinking shears, but he does it anyway. Also that same sales man (now with a bandage over his eyes) saying he would give a free jar of hot toenail clippings to his customers. "Come on down and take advantage of these crazy deals before my dog tells me to kill again!!!"
  • Spoofed here on Robot Chicken.
  • An episode of Arthur featured a Jack's Joke Shop commercial, where the proprietor showcases several of his gag items that he's giving away for free. Buster says that that's just crazy.

 Proprietor: Crazy, you say? You're right, it's crazy! But once you try my gags, I know you'll be back for more!

  • Garfield and Friends has recurring character Madman Murray. (No relation.) "Madman Meets His Match" brings us Demented Dave. They fight over Jon's business until Garfield suggests they team up. Jon considers it a mild triumph that he got out for under $1000 (though he still doesn't have a t-shirt), but Garfield tells us the two are about to find out what it can be like to have a business partner...
  • The Time Squad episode "Big Al's Big Secret" had Time Squad discover Albert Einstein had given up theoretical physics to become a lovably-wacky used-car salesman known as "Big Al": "To sell you a car, I'll eat a bug!"
  • Role-played once in Muppet Babies. By Gonzo, naturally.
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