A face that is not Chris Farley's emerges from a van down by the river.
Bobblehead technology has come a long ways since the 1960s, when papier-mâché was used to make the adorable nodding noggins, but given how cheaply they need to be produced, there’s never going to be a perfect bridge across the uncanny valley between reality and approximation. That said, the Madison Mallards have really screwed the pooch with this season's Chris Farley-aping spring-sproingy promotional item.
Last year the folks in the Mallards' front office pulled off an epic win with a whole Farley-themed night that started by handing out bobbles of Madison's most famous export, dressed up as his van-dwelling character Matt Foley, and ended with a costume contest for those intrepid fans who had come dressed as their favorite Farley iteration. I still say that the "lunch lady" was robbed. Sadly, the game itself was cut short by a surprise rain storm that rolled through north Madison, but it was nonetheless one of the most talked about promos of recent memory, which is saying something for a team that prides itself on whacked-out promotions like "William Hung American Idol Karaoke Night," "Stop Plumber's Butt Night," and "Vegetarian Food Appreciation Night."
This year they're dipping back into the Farley well with another bobblehead, on which I have some thoughts:
First of all, it's another Matt Foley. Chris Farley played dozens of characters across his five years on Saturday Night Live, and was either the lead actor or had memorable parts in a dozen films, but you're just gonna go back to the same character you did last year, this time adding a van to it for anyone who maybe missed the reference the first time around? How about a painfully nervous "Chris Farley Show" bobble, which you could position next to your other bobbles for anxiety-filled interviews? Maybe a Chippendales Farley with a spring mounted in his hips for maximum gyration? Consider these my submissions for this year's "Bobblehead Brainstorm." My dream Farley bobble would be Jimmy from Dirty Work, whose nose had memorably been bitten off by a "Saigon whore," but something tells me that the Mallards would rightfully steer clear of him for obvious reasons.
Second, this thing looks bad. The team is already getting roasted in comments on its Facebook post promoting the bobble, albeit with a distinctly Midwest-nice approach: "Too bad it doesn't look like Farley," says one. "Looks like Harry Caray with brown hair =)" reads another. The most damning one of all, though: "Is that Chris Farley? Or is that a Drew Carey bobblehead?" C'mon folks, let's dig in a bit here, shall we? Let's hear some chatter out there!
The first whatever number of attendees at the Mallards game on June 2 will receive a bobblehead of every faux-chummy weekend dad-looking loud-talker posted up at an airport bar on a layover in Cleveland or Detroit or somewhere. It should have a button on it somewhere that you press and it says "No, no... let me give you my card."
If the Mallards were doing a No Country For Old Men-themed night, and the bobble was of the guy in the gas station that Anton Chigurh does his whole "What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?" schtick with, but then doesn't murder with his cow-stunner, this would be perfect.
Like I said up top, I understand that there are limitations with bobblehead-sculpting technologies, but the Mallards did a decent enough job last year. This year though, it looks like a driver's ed teacher who won’t shut up about how good he was at baseball when he was in high school, which is to say, exactly the sort of sad sack that Matt Foley would look like in real life. Is that what they were going for? If so, then hoo boy did I miss the joke.
And, finally, yes... Of course I want one. This is the sort of hyper-local kitsch trainwreck that you simply cannot force. Yes, it's a mildly crass attempt at leveraging a dead man to pack the bleachers at a minor-league baseball game, but I’m sure no one set out to make a shitty-looking bobblehead. That's just a special, and honestly unexpected, level of ineptness worth taking a minute to rake over the coals... right before I buy tickets to the game so I can add this warped remainder to my collection. He’s gonna go right next to my Mitt Romney from 2012.
The Mallards are rolling out their promotional items one at a time this year, as a means of stoking social media buzz, so I’ll probably check back in a week or two from now with commentary on whatever celebs they wrangle into spending an evening out at Warner Park, especially if they sucker Jose Canseco into coming back out here to hit some dingers and draw Donald Trump dragons for everyone or whatever.