Most expensive punchline?

In one of the rare occasions where I wasn’t daydreaming during a commercial, an ad for insurance which was part of a series of “hey we cover weird disasters!” had some sort of wet concrete delivery pipe accidentally pour all over the insured’s fancy convertible. And my only thought was, gee that’s an expensive punchline, there are so many more creative and humorous “odd disasters” that could have been portrayed without wasting a shiny new car.

But it got me thinking, what contenders are there for most expensive and or elaborate effort put into a minor, throwaway, or just very brief punchline?

Family Guy seems like the king of that sort of thing, but doesn’t count because it costs the same to animate something ridiculously grand in scale as something simple. Maybe Orville? Using modern CGI seems close to cheating, but we will take all nominations here.

Extra points for more buck and less bang!

I haven’t seen it, but I would presume that a car shaped non-functional object could be mocked up pretty inexpensively and visually be indistinguishable from a real car.

Yeah, it’s just the inspiration, not the platonic ideal.

The last week that Conan O’Brien hosted The Tonight Show, he did a (facetious) series of skits in which he tried to get NBC to pay for the most expensive ideas he could come up with. It was several years ago, and unfortunately I don’t remember specifics.

The Bugatti bug while the rolling stones were playing?

Clarkson era Top Gear did this a time or two, usually in the guise of “The BBC have told us to save money…” I remember one such where Clarkson took a car around the world.

Reminds me of how Buster Keaton comically destroys a pristine Rolls Royce in his 1922 film, The Blacksmith. By all accounts, the Rolls Royce was real—it was given to him by his in-laws, with whom he didn’t get along. A lot of people (myself included) didn’t find the film particularly funny, so maybe this counts as one of the most expensive punchlines for the least laughs.

Please. The winner and still champion is the train gag in The General. That was an actual locomotive (Last I heard, it was still sitting in the river, rusting away). Though the actual gag is the Union commander’s reaction.

For the life of me, I can’t find it, but I recall a commercial featuring David Leisure like this. It would have been from the 90’s because I remember, at the time, recognizing his from Empty Nest. I believe it was for a travel agency, but it could have been anything. In the commercial he imagined whatever company he was talking about sending him to all these exotic locations, to film the commercial and ended with something like ‘but they’d never pay for all that’. The joke being that they did, since they filmed him in all those locations to do the bit about him imagining he was there.

Less expensive, but still funny. Back when iPads first came out, Apple sent one over to Tosh.0 to play with. Here’s the result. I can’t find a full clip, but when the show aired, after that clip they cut back to him joking that they never even turned it on.

That was the scene I thought of when I read the OP. I’m not sure if it counts as a throwaway punchline, though. In its day, I gather that would have been received like the sinking at the end of Titanic; a spectacular climax worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster.

Is the location known? I vaguely remember reading a magazine article decades ago by a guy who set out to find the locations used in The General, but that was before I even knew who Keaton was and I didn’t keep it. I know it was filmed in Oregon, the western half of the state, from the looks of it. Next time I’m out that way I’d be tempted to go and look for it.

What about The Bridge on the River Kwai?

Isuzu, possibly? Leisure was in a series of commercials for them as a pitchman telling one outrageous lie after another.

I’d think there would be many ways of filming such a scene without destroying a new car. Offhand I can think of the following:

  • Maybe the car is a write off. It could look fine from one side, but has unseen damage that makes it unusable.

  • Maybe it’s not real concrete, some prop substance that washes off easily.

  • Maybe it’s a display model, with just the body, and none of the mechanics.

  • Maybe a special effect, achieved with models or CGI

I ran across those when I was looking for it. I don’t want to write them off since I can’t say for sure it wasn’t them, but I don’t recall him having that persona in it.

If it was an Isuzu commercial, it possibly would have been the last one. I only say that because part of me thinks that if it wasn’t a travel commercial it was an ‘end of an era’ type thing and ‘what are we going to do to make this last commercial really impressive’.

And FWIW, I do remember one of the things he did in the commercial was riding a horse, possibly while wearing a comfortable white linen outfit, on a beach or some other tropical/exotic location.

Is this the ad in question? Most of the “concrete” is poured onto the hood and windshield, and just a bit of splash goes into the interior. The next shot of the seats covered in concrete is obviously a model.

But even if it was real car & real concrete, it says here the aveage cost of producing a nationally broadcast TV commercial is $123,000, and some costing much more. They could probably afford to destroy a real car, especially if it’s used or damaged in any way - e.g. totaled because of flood damage.

All good points, especially the second. Not because of cost - but because real concrete gives you only one take. And might not look like concrete on camera.

However, anyone who has been to a commercial shoot knows that the cost of a car would be trivial in the budget. Probably cheaper than renting the studio. Almost certainly cheaper than hiring people to rig up a good looking fake car. Definitely cheaper than the ad buys for a national campaign.
Maybe cheaper than the craft services bill.

The commercial in question.

An unbadged sports car, with no visible interior that isn’t plastic. The reverse shot is easily faked, and the splat could be anything. Not CGI, but not that expensive, either. The cement rig probably cost more than the car did.

Not to mention all the cars they’ve destroyed and even doubled down when people complain.

No badging, but the car is a Chrysler Crossfire, so it’s at least ten years old. I just did a web search and they’re in the $5,000 - $8,000 range.

TV pioneer Ernie Kovacs supposedly spent twelve grand on this seconds long gag in 1955.