A Tribute to Billy Mays and the Silliest Infomercials of His Career

Ah, the infomercial – that dependable staple of late-night UHF programming, where hucksters try to sell you products you will never use for prices you will never pay.

Atop the writhing throne of the infomercial pitchman sat bearded yeller Billy Mays, king of all he surveyed. Mays, often mistaken for the guy who played Al on Home Improvement,  pitched nearly thirty products during his career, and some of the commercials he shot are downright hilarious.

Without him, none of these products would have achieved the success they’ve had. Do you have any of these gathering dust in your closet?


Samurai Shark

Why is this product called the Samurai Shark? Does it live by the honorable code of bushido in feudal Japan? Does it swim below the depths of the ocean looking for prey one week out of the year on the Discovery Channel? Or did somebody’s nephew just think it sounded cool in 1981?

This is actually some kind of portable knife sharpener with “tungsten carbide” sharpening blades, and the infomercial is probably most notable for the shot of somebody mangling a tomato with a dull knife – add some video static and it could be a scene from Saw V.



“Tired of people borrowing your things and forgetting they’re yours?” Billy, that wasn’t borrowing, that’s stealing, and engraving your name on the back of your T-square isn’t going to make them give it back to you.

They’re just going to get their own Engrave-It – the cordless engraving tool that you use like a pen – and change your dainty “Billy Mays” to “Billy Gays.” Then what, Billy? Are you saying that you’re Billy Gays? Well, this is his T-square, so if you want it back you’d better say that you’re Billy Gays as loud as you can so everybody can hear it. And that’s pretty loud.


What Odor?

That odor – the odor of kids! Pets! All life on Earth! If you possess a delicate nose like the fake Sarah Silverman-looking broad in this Billy Mays joint, maybe you should shell out for a few bottles of this revolutionary nose cauterizer.

The high point of this clip comes right in the middle, where Mays squirts a glass of sour milk, a wedge of moldy cheese, and a piss-crusted catbox with the stuff and then jams his nose right into the litter. Dude, what are you keeping that glass of sour milk around for, sentimental purposes? If it smells bad, throw it away. That’s what I told my kid after Grandma died.


The Handy Switch

Are you living in a home where the lamps are placed… too far away from each other? Well, Billy Mays can help you with the revolutionary Handy Switch. Yes, just stick this clumsy-looking piece of plastic on the offending lamp and carry this idiotic-looking light switch box around with you and you too can turn lamps on and off – without touching them!

For $19.99, you get two of the damn things, which means you need to carry around two of the stupid switches, and pretty soon you’re going to look like Dynamo from The Running Man. It’s enough to make me pine for the glory days of the Clapper.



And lo, there would come a challenger to Mays’ throne, and he would be a hyperactive manchild who pushed his product at twice the volume, and he would be called Vince Offer. TV’s Vince made his debut shilling the Shamwow, an absorbent cloth-type device that you would use instead of a much cheaper and more convenient paper towel.

Well, Billy Mays wouldn’t take this lying down, and his corporate masters trotted him out with a towel of his own – the Zorbeez. No, it’s not the name of a Power Rangers monster, it’s “the most absorbent material I’ve ever seen!”

The secret? “X-27,” a material that is… 27x more absorbent than… something. Unfortunately, in a showdown between the two products, the Shamwow won hands down – but a facial bite in a sordid prostitute encounter took Vince out of the game.


Big City Slider Station

Apparently there’s a miniature burger craze that’s sweeping the nation, according to this excruciatingly annoying commercial. The Big City Slider Station is like a Satanic hybrid between a muffin tin and a waffle iron, enabling even the most kitchen-challenged to churn out ground meat burgers at a breakneck pace.

“No more squishin’ and squashin! Or flippin’ and floppin!” Listen, if you’re too fat to flip a hamburger, you should probably not be making five hamburgers at once in the privacy of your own home. Mays even goes on to suggest you double or triple-stack them for added arteriosclerotic trauma.

It even comes with a “recipe guide,” which is basically sixteen pages of “Put this crap on top of your burger and then throw it into your fat face as fast as you can, oinklord.”

While he may have pushed some of the silliest products ever to grace the late night infomercial space, there’s no denying his enthusiasm in doing so. We have lost one of, if not the greatest pitchmen of our generation. Billy, you will be missed.

Leave a Comment

  1. donald boerum says:

    rip billy 🙁

  2. Nick says:

    I just made a tribute to the 5 fallen stars that past away this month check it out at


  3. Reber says:

    unbelievable…. deadbillymaysjokes.com

    not cool…well give it some time at least

  4. Bruce Santa Monica says:

    um, it's called a Samurai Shark because a) Samurai swords are the sharpest blades in the world and b) it's handle is shaped like a shark. Funny you didn't get either reference 😉 Those poor marketing people probably put months into thinking of something relevant to the product and easy to remember … better than stupid ShamWOW … anyway … we'll miss you screaming at us in our living rooms buddy .. 😉

  5. aaweeble3 says:

    Billy Mays totally ROCKED! RIP bro!


  6. k dubble dizub says:

    to hell with billy mayes for wasting our time and hard earned money…but i bet we find out it was ron propiel who offed him.

  7. Tom says:

    web page has malicious code for those of you not using no script

  8. Jake says:

    RIP Mr. Mayes, your booming voice will be missed.

  9. braden says:

    anyone else notice how close the Zorbeez is to the Sham-Wow

  10. Elliott Morales says:


  11. Mr.Dandy says:

    What a bummer! I was just getting into his show Pitchmen 🙁 It was a surprisingly candid look at the process of finding and pitching these products, and kind of inspiring to my entrepreneurial spirit. Plus he was such a character, an entertainer really.

    Many of the products he pitched seemed to have a bit more value and usefulness than many of the things in other gizmo-mercials. Like the mighty putty– 2-part plumber's epoxy is something I use quite a lot in modelmaking. It's something that's has been around for decades but not marketed much, so you might think they'd mark it way up in price for the gullible TV audience, but their package was considerably cheaper than the brand I'd been buying for years. Small example… but valid I think.

    Anyway, I never thought I'd miss a pitchman, but here we are, RIP Billy, and my best wishes to Billy Jr. and the family.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Goodbye Billy Mays… 🙁

  13. Low bloow says:

    i must say i have the handy siwtch and it works awsome because the on off switch on the lamp and broke and has to be turned on and off with pliers this makes it soo much easier haha it does have a purpose

  14. Uncle Walter says:

    We will miss you Billy…

  15. KieranMullen says:

    In some parts of the US sliders are greasy burgers that give you the runs.

  16. someone says:

    I couldn't give a fuck about billy mays

  17. Walter says:

    But wait!! There's (no) more Billy Mays!!! The world's foremost purveyor of the useless and worthless is gone forever. No doubt about it, there IS a God in Heaven!

  18. Ashante says:

    Police: TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead at home
    June 28, 2009, 11:35 AM EST
    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman whose boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean made him a pop-culture icon, has died. He was 50.

    Tampa police said Mays was found unresponsive by his wife Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m. It was not immediately clear how he died. He said he was hit on the head when an airplane he was on made a rough landing Saturday, and Mays' wife told investigators the TV personality didn't feel well before he went to bed that night.

    According to sources close to the investigation, police are looking into the possibility of suicide following the discovery of documents in a safe-deposit box which link Mays as the sperm donor used to artificially inseminate Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe, which resulted in the birth of Prince Michael and Paris.

  19. Jessica says:

    Zorbeez actually came before ShamWow and that's why Billy was always so up in arms about it. Also, the Slap Chop was a copy of the Quick Chop.

    Nonetheless, RIP Billy Mays 🙁

  20. Tony says:

    Plans have been announced to permanently mount Billy Mays (with Mighty Putty) within the advertising section of the Museum of Radio And Television in New York City.

  21. Billy Mays says:

    Goodnight sweet Prince

  22. Tim Lara says:

    Billy Mays was the god of sales and yelling, rap tribute is up at my site http://www.yovia.com/blogs/timlara and it beats all of deez

  23. Eric in Morgantown says:

    I thought Billy Mays was great and I will miss him on his commercials and on Pitchmen. Once a Mountaineer always a Mountaineer Billy. Rest in peace!

    • Kip says:

      Righto Eric!!! "Once a mountaineer always a Mountaineer." Once dead, always dead. Thank God. A fitting end to a wasted and useless life.

  24. moneyremix says:

    Billy Mays … Here: http://tinyurl.com/aezmzw

  25. ashling says:

    I have had the pleasure of working with Billy Mays. Although many people associate him with being the loud, larger-than-life personality booming from their television, he was also one of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. He was certainly one-of-a-kind and will be missed terribly. I left a lasting condolence for his family at http://www.tributes.com/national/news/2

  26. Tibbar says:

    Billy Mays was the best pitchmen that walked the earth. He will be missed and never forgotten, since no one is quite like Billy. The only thing that came out of this tragedy is how Billy will positivity affect heaven. Even though I never meet Billy his contribution to pitchmen and even free medicare shows how even when he got to the top, he never forgot about the little ones like me.

  27. amjs11 says:

    billy… Rip… I still remember when I was 5, and he was right there on the T.V, advertising Oxi-Clean… he'll always be remembered

  28. Dan says:

    Why did he have to die…

  29. ace says:

    Another "celebrity" who was 50 just died. He had a lot going for him.

    May Billy Mays rest in peace despite some of the negative things people say.

  30. billy mays was cool… makin' some bank.

  31. Joel says:

    Samuiri Shark: "tungsten carbide" it a real thing. It is what machinists use as metal cutting tools. Tungsten is one of the hardest elements and has the highest melting point of any element. it is mixed with colbalt, niobium and an assortment of other elements and compound to make one extremely hard cutting tool.

  32. Sarah says:

    What was so great about this self-styled "King Of The Infomercial"? Sure he was! Just as Bernie Madoff was the greatest investment broker of all time. Mays was a professional? The only thing he was professional at was relieving the unwary, uneducated, and senile from their hard-earned cash by encouraging the unwashed masses to purchase junk that he clearly understood would never meet the quality claims he touted in his ads.

    That wasn't enough, though. To add insult to injury, the suckers he drew in were additionally charged obscene shipping and handling fees (which would have easily covered the actual price of the purchased item).

    To top it off, once the suckers realized they had been taken, they faced the hellish nightmare of trying to retrieve their money, minus S & H of course. So, in effect, no matter
    whether successful with their refund or not, they bought the product.

    Yes, Billy Mays was a King! King Of The Scam. He leaves behind a legacy of preying on the public's gullibility, fraud and gross misrepresentation.

    The world is a better place without him and his ilk.

  33. Conner says:


    • Titiana says:

      That''s not a proper tribute Conner!!!! A proper tribute would be to take his cremains and flushing them down a toilet cleaned with Kaboom.

    • Erik says:

      How about grinding up the body and making some Billy Mays Big City Sliders and feeding them to the dogs? Nah, dogs deserve better than that. Just let the crows have 'em.

  34. astrom says:

    all you people who posted negative things about billy mays i put a curse on you and your ancestors!

  35. jack says:

    to someone im fucking your mom right now ah yes you got some mom!

  36. pete says:

    plain and simple sarah a curse on your smelly cunt!

  37. Ashley says:

    i love billy mays i'm going to miss his stuff..
    i just came from his funeral he grew up about 20 miles away from
    where i live so i had to go, rip Billy 🙁

  38. minimimitchi says:

    ever seen that slap chop dub?

    "slap it like its a hooker."
    "it opens up in 1,2,3 easy steps,women dont open that easy.and the ones that don't open?fuck em."

  39. minimimitchi says:

    billy mays was great and all but he never made as big an impact as MICHAEL JACKSON

  40. A very impressive and well organized site. Regards, Lorna

  41. Ta Ratana says:

    Very Good post man Thank you