Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Billy Mays

Go To

"BILLY MAYS — the only TV spokesman allowed to speak in all caps."
YouTube Commenter

To read it in his voice, click here.

William Darrell Mays Jr. (July 20, 1958 – June 28, 2009) was an American television direct-response advertisement salesperson most notable for giving his enthusiastic endorsement to Fix-it, OxiClean, Orange Glo, Kaboom, Zorbeez, and other cleaning, home-based, and maintenance products on the Home Shopping Network, and through his company, Mays Promotions, Inc. If the world of infomercials and late night advertising can be said to have stars, this guy was one of the biggest. Large, loud and impossible to ignore, this pitchman was a familiar face and voice to anyone who watches TV in the United States and Canada. Even if you didn't want him to be.

Beginning in April 2009 and alongside his best friend and equally recognizable pitchman Anthony "Sully" Sullivan, he co-hosted a reality show on the Discovery Channel titled Pitchmen, which showed how his company chose the products they pitch and how they created their ads. The final episode of the show—broadcast two weeks after his death—was a tribute episode to Mays.

On June 28, 2009, BILLY MAYS was found dead in his home in Tampa Bay, Florida due to hypertensive heart disease. He was 50 years old. His funeral was on July 3, 2009 and he was buried in his trademark blue shirt and khaki pants, which were also worn by his pallbearers.

Not to be confused with the baseball player Willie Mays or bandleader-composer-arranger Billy May.

The secret's in the TV Tropes Wiki Markup technology, which describes examples that Billy Mays provides:

  • Adam Westing: He occasionally had some fun with this trope - his Shakespearean skit on The Tonight Show was one of the better examples.
    "It's out, out damned spot! With the power of new Oxi Clean!"
  • Alliterative Name: Notice a pattern in the product name list up there?
  • ...And 99˘: Most of his products tended to be $19.99.
  • Approval of God: Not at first. According to his friend and fellow spokesman Anthony Sullivan, Billy Mays didn’t like Jaboody Dubs portrayal of him, thinking that he was being mocked but then started to enjoy after realizing that it was an Affectionate Parody, even watching each dub until his death.
  • Berserk Button: As shown on Pitchmen, you should not mention Shamwow or Vince around him... and he absolutely loathed Barry Scott.
  • Catchphrase: "But Wait, There's More!"
  • Flanderization: He got CONSIDERABLY LOUDER over the years. It's weird watching his old, normally-spoken commercials.
  • Full-Name Basis: Maybe. He's almost always referred to as Billy Mays. Or BILLY MAYS.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": His pallbearers wore his iconic OxiClean blue shirt/khaki pants outfit.
  • Gag Dub: Up until his death, and even after, he was the constant (affectionate) target of Jabo0ody Dubs.
  • Incoming Ham: "HI, BILLY MAYS HERE!"
  • Large Ham: He was remarkably cool and collected in most of the interviews he gave; his giant hamminess was explained as somewhere being pragmatic about what attitude sells and having fun in his job.
  • Hammerspace: If fans came up to him and asked him if he really used the products he endorsed, he'd enthusiastically say yes and start pulling out a seemingly impossibly large collection of samples out of his pockets and give them away.
  • Limited Wardrobe: His wardrobe seemed to consist solely of blue shirts and tan pants, indeed to the point that this was parodied in an ad he did for in which he's on the run and his suitcase is entirely filled with just blue shirts and tan pants. This is taken to an almost illogical extreme, since, as mentioned above, he was buried in that particular outfit. Furthermore, his pallbearers wore the same outfit.
  • No Indoor Voice: One of his most notable traits. Averted by the show Pitchmen — when not on camera, his voice is quite average.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Some of the memes and jokes immediately following his death (with surprisingly few proceeding into Vulgar Humor) were enough to make you laugh and hate yourself for it simultaneously. A good example? Images of Vince Offer holding up the Death Note with his usual wild-eyed stare.
  • Self-Deprecation:
  • The Rival: When Vince Offer got a lot of internet buzz for his ShamWow commercial, there were signs that Mays (who promoted a competing product, Zorbeez) considered Offer a "challenger" to his pre-eminence among informercial pitchmen, and even cut a new Zorbeez commercial with several Take Thats aimed at Offer. He was vocal in accusing Offer of copying his... well, copy, with both ShamWow and, later, SlapChop (a competitor to QuickChop, which Mays promoted). This "rivalry" ended with Mays' death shortly thereafter although it probably wouldn't have lasted even if he had lived as Offer would not promote another product for some years thereafter, partly due to issues in his personal life.
  • Shout-Out: South Park season 13, episode "Dead Celebrities".
    "With just two easy steps, I can jump over these seats and kick you right in the fucking balls!"
  • Take That!: To Vince Offer and the ShamWow in a Zorbeez commercial:
    (mockingly) "Did ya get that, camera guy?"

HERE'S HOW TO ORDER! To order the Billy Mays TV Tropes page, call 1-800-555-5555. That's 1-800-555-5555. Don't delay, act now!