Live Stand-Up

The earliest television commercial was the “stand-up spot,” where the announcer or host held the product in one hand while pointing to it with the other while telling us about its merits. Unless the performer doing the spot was gifted or as they say a “fast study” and could memorize the copy written by the agency, they learned to read the copy from large white cards held in front of them; as you can guess it was dubbed “idiot cards.” Later of course someone figured out how to make a player piano roll type device that could be placed over the lens and the performer could become an instant expert as the dialogue rolled by. The performance was that of a medicine man; carnival barker or street salesman.


During the live segments you could with a second camera superimpose graphics over the action none as “Supers” or superimpositions. The second camera also allowed for close-ups of the items and back to the host. Slides with dealer’s names, small photographs (called “balops” and “telops”) after the manufacturers of the equipments used to create the projection.