Here’s a some dark holiday humor for you from 1947. According to the ad, the demand for Arrow Shirts is so great that jolly Old Saint Nick can’t meet those demands. He’s become so depressed that he’s decided it’s better to off himself than to face disappointing the men of the world. What a strange, sad holiday advertisement. I’m assuming these two guys in the background made it in time before Santa pulled the trigger on his musket. I can’t imagine a musket being a clean way to go out.
Dark humor like this was mainstream in the ’30s and ’40s. I’ve listened to plenty of radio shows over the years where one character has told another character to “go blow your brains out” and it wasn’t said in a mean or vindictive tone at all. It was viewed as a perfectly harmless joke that got the crowd laughing. A number of times a gunshot was used on these shows to infer a suicide has taken place… all for the sake of a gag.
During the course of Jack Benny’s radio & TV shows, there was an annual Christmas shopping episode where Mel Blanc (as a department store worker) would be driven crazy by Jack’s indecisiveness and the final result on a number of occasions was Mel Blanc committing suicide with the aid of a gun. Even Dennis Day’s character on the show would sometimes randomly state that he was going to commit suicide.
It’s actually a bit shocking when you hear suicide discussed so flippantly on these shows because most of those shows were so tame when it come to other matters such as sex, alcohol and politics. It’s funny how views have changed because you’d never hear such light-hearted graphic talk about suicide on today’s shows.
Anyway, this Christmas ad is an interesting look back at a time that’s probably not as innocent as we like to think it is.