My holiday gift: Funny side effects


It’s time once again for the annual onslaught of preternaturally annoying Christmas TV commercials. Like those perennials with new cars and trucks wrapped in huge red bows. Surprise!

This year one of them features not one, but two GMC dreadnoughts parked in a couple’s driveway.

Then there are those scores of ads with kids — and adults — screaming as they view all the Christmas swag arrayed under the tree.

But my Christmas wish is that all those ubiquitous DTC (direct-to-consumer) pharma ads on TV would go away — for good. These were banned from TV until about 20 years ago. (Ask your doctor.)

In a typical drug ad (Entyvio, for example), the music comes up and kids start playing and/or adults dance when the drug’s side effects are listed.

Some samples I’ve collected (I know, bad metaphor) off TV recently include nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, rare brain infections, and fatal infections, etc.

But I can’t help but laugh when thinking about the hilarious side effects Stephen Colbert used to list on his old Comedy Central show when shilling for the fictitious Prescott Pharmaceuticals.

(They should put these “Cheating Death” segments out as a highlight reel. They were usually brilliantly written.)

I’ve collected some as a holiday gift. Ready to ho ho ho?

• Bone Sporking
• Late Onset Albinism
• Facial Corkboarding
• Restless Torso Syndrome
• REO Speedlung
• Permanent Blindness
• Nostril Inversion
• Dissolving Intestine Syndrome
• Spontaneous and Uncontrollable Gum Growth
• X-Ray Hearing
• Ankle Bearding
• Brainwhistle
• Arby’s Mouth
• Steven Tyler Lip
• Hairy Uvula
• Jimmy Cracked Corns
• Scrotal Bassoon
• Massive Weight Gains
• Scrappy Dooism
• Honus Wagner Disease
• Hungry, Hungry Hipbones
• Capillary Yogurt
• Hair Swelling
• Minor Heart Explosions
• Skeletal Xylophoning

Ask your doctor about these!


My son used to refer to one neighbor’s house as “The Griswolds” because of its thousands of Christmas lights. The term comes from Chevy Chase’s meretricious residence in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

The payoff came when Chase’s Clark Griswold finally turned on his thousands of Christmas lights, which pulled enough amps to power a medium-sized city. The comedy high point: the blazing lights blinded passing airline pilots.

I haven’t spotted a Griswold house in Port Townsend yet, but it’s not for lack of some homeowners trying.


Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story,” which TBS is again airing in a 24-hour marathon beginning on Christmas Eve. Not only is this clever whimsical film the best holiday movie ever, but nothing else comes even close.


If you have extra currency around the house, tickets to the Rolling Stones’ shows in Seattle next May, which should cost roughly the same as a Kia. One comic calls it the “Steel Wheelchairs” tour, and the encore will be “Hey, You, Get Offa My Barcalounger!”


This from HBO comic Bill Maher, who says this year’s White House card will read, “Treason’s Greetings.”


Happy Non-Sectarian Season’s Greetings to all you fine readers!

Bill Mann of Port Townsend has written the humor column for CBSMarketWatch and USA Today. He’s at


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