On last night’s episode of Project Runway (look, I make The Wife watch enough horrible Mets games; I can sit through some competition-based reality TV now and again), the designers were tasked with making outfits comprised of materials found in a pet store. One contestant opted to make them out of a housebreaking product for dogs referred to as “wee-wee pads”.
Hearing “wee-wee pads” cracked me the hell up. Because aside from being obviously hilarious in and of itself, the phrase “wee-wee pads” reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in years: Lionel’s Puppy and Kitty City. Or rather, an ad for this establishment that ran on local TV during my youth.
It was an ultra-low budget production, one that I’m not sure legally qualifies as a commercial. Really, it was a slideshow of pics from the exterior and interior of a pet store in Brooklyn, and its running time was no longer than 10 seconds. The reason I still remember this ad is thanks to the voice-over genius who read along with the slideshow. A low-toned, emotionless narrator urged you to come down to Lionel’s Puppy and Kitty City on 86th Street in Bensonhurst for all your pet needs, in a very thick Cop Accent.
If you’re not from the NYC area, a Cop Accent is a very particular Brooklyn-y, Bronx-y dialect in which the speaker sounds gruff yet subdued, usually because their words meet slight resistance from a substantial mustache. (Think Christopher Guest doing his “I hate when that happens” routine.) I grew up in a town where everyone’s dad, it seemed, has a Cop Accent. You could also hear it on the local news all the time, when an NYPD spokesman relayed the finer details of a horrifying crime in as bored a voice as possible. “And den de alleged perpetratahs beat de 87-year-old woman into a coma with her own cane…”
That’s the kind of voice this narrator had. Which is why I would always lose it when, at the very end of the commercial, the narrator with the Cop Accent would mumble. “Free housebreaking wee-wee pads with every purchase.”
When Project Runway gave me Lionel’s Puppy and Kitty City flashbacks, I reminded The Wife of this golden piece of cinema. She recalled this ad as well, though we were in dispute as to when it aired. I feel like it was strictly a late night commercial, appearing in the SNL/Showtime at the Apollo window, while she swears she saw it during afternoon cartoons. I feel like she can’t be right, because if an ad that prominently featured a man nonchalantly mentioning “housebreaking wee-wee pads with every purchase” in the post-school time slot, kids would have gone to the hospital in droves for laughing themselves sick.
Sadly, among the Vast and Dusty Scratchbomb VHS Archives, I have yet to locate video evidence that this thing actually existed. Googling provided me no evidence, either; the closest thing I could find was link to someone’s Facebook post where they mentioned “free housebreaking wee-wee pads,” but the link was sadly broken. For the moment, my wife’s mutual memory is its only corroboration. But I assure you, it is one of the most simply hilarious things you could ever hope to see. If you remember what I’m talking about, just leave a note in the comments section so I know that I am not alone. And if anyone out there actually has this on tape somewhere, I will pay in the dozens to see it again!