If you live in America and you aren’t famous for something you must be doing something wrong (I am clearly doing something wrong). In the 1980s the nation collectively decided to make a man famous for talking fast. He achieved renown for the number of words he could say in a short period of time. It’s a talent, sure, but is it a talent to be celebrated? We thought so.
The man’s name is John Moschitta, Jr., and if you know him at all it’s probably as a spokesman for Micro Machines. In the 1980s and 1990s, Moschitta appeared in more than 100 commercials for Micro Machines, the line of car toys that were notable for being smaller than other car toys. You would think that speaking very quickly would be anathema to advertising a product, since the idea is that you are providing information that is hopefully being absorbed, but Micro Machines thought outside the box. I suppose when your idea for a product is “Hot Wheels, but they don’t roll as well” you’re all about altering the paradigm.
People couldn’t get enough of fast talking! I can only imagine what it was like for commercial actors in the 1980s seeing Moschitta land all these roles. I assume a lot of audition notes boiled down to “you nailed your line read. Now could you do it again in a third of the time?” Moschitta even had his own board game. This says a lot about the man’s confidence, that he was willing to sell to others the tools to dethrone him.
I know what you’re asking yourself, “was he in the Guinness Book of World Records?” You better believe he was in the Guinness Book of World Records! I was one of those kids that read the Guinness Book of World Records religiously. I loved and followed all major sports from a very young age, but I think I fantasized more about setting a record than I ever did about winning the Super Bowl or the World Series.
Enough people enjoyed what he did that Moschitta strung together a series of film and television appearances, primarily in roles where he was brought in to speak quickly. You may remember him from the Saved By the Bell episode where Screech gets hit by lightning and can see the future, in which he plays a teacher who is also not well suited for his job because he speaks too quickly for the students to understand what is going to be on the midterm. That is not the mark of a good educator! (Also don’t forget that Saved By the Bell is bad) He also appeared in the Transformers franchise, where he played Starscream. Just kidding, he played a fast talking alien robot.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike Moschitta. I also owned a crapload of Micro Machines. I was a dumb kid, and talking fast and cars that were smaller than other cars impressed me. I still remember him today, and it’s not because he kind of looked like the Time to Make the Donuts guy, so that’s something. It’s only now with the benefit of hindsight that I realize none of it made sense. This was not a useful skill and these cars didn’t roll worth a damn. People who speak quickly shouldn’t be on commercials, and Micro Machines are not Hot Wheels.
Who was your favorite person famous for no good reason in the 80s? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
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