And you see him everyday
His face will look familiar
But in a most unusual way
He's a Norman Normal
I said he's Norman Normal
You know he's Norman Normal
He looks a lot like you
Norman Normal is a 1968 short by Warner Bros. and Seven Arts, produced by William Hendricks and N. Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary, who also provided voice work and wrote and performed the short's theme song), and directed by Alex Lovy. Rather than being a part of the Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies line, it was billed as a "Cartoon Special".
The short revolves around a typical day in the life of Norman, a completely ordinary businessman who works as a salesman for a ball-bearing company, as he leads the viewer through a series of doors that seem to represent his memories. He gets pressured by his boss into using unscrupulous sales tactics, ignored by his stuffy father when Norman goes to him for life advice, and mocked by his so-called friends at a cocktail party. Norman mostly keeps it all in his head, though... quite literally, as we find at the end of the cartoon.
Despite its cult following and better reception over the other Seven Arts shorts, this cartoon is rarely aired on TV though not because of any controversial content (violence, racism, etc.). The reason why is because Warner Bros. never designed the cartoon to interest children. Its limited exposure on television led to it being one of the rarest of all Warner Bros. cartoons along with Injun Trouble (1969) owing to the unpopularity of the shorts produced during this period. Despite this, it saw some airtime on Nickelodeon in the late 80s and early 90s and it was eventually released on the sixth Golden Collection DVD becoming the first short from the Seven Arts era to achieve this feat.
- Animation Bump: As with the other Alex Lovy-directed Warner Bros.-Seven Arts shorts, the animation quality varies wildly depending on the animator. Generally speaking, Volus Jones' and LaVerne Harding's work is very solid, Ted Bonnicksen's is competent but not all that inspired, and Ed Solomon's is pretty bad and prone to going Off-Model.
- Blah Blah Blah:
- Leo spends the whole party scene saying "Approval!" over and over again, which seems to be how Norman perceives him, a Sad Clown desperate for the approval of others.
- We only hear incredibly vague snippets of the joke Norman's drunk friend tries to tell, including references to "ethnic behavior".
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Hal the bartender mocks Norman for trying to order a ginger ale at the cocktail party, angrily accusing him of not liking the kind of person he is when he's drunk.
- Expository Theme Tune: The short opens and closes with a song about Norman, composed by co-producer Noel "Paul" Stookey. The song also plays under the opening and closing "Abstract W-7" logo sequences, in place of Bill Lava's klunky rendition of "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down."
- Extreme Doormat: Norman just goes with the crowd and doesn't make waves, as his father advises him to. The only sign of a spine he shows is near the end, when he angrily walks out of the party after Hal makes fun of him, and on his way out tells Leo, "Go soak your head!"
- Hypocritical Humor: The way Hal the bartender goes from jovial to angry when accusing Norman of not liking "the real person" that comes out when he gets drunk, Hal may be projecting a bit.
- Lampshade Wearing: The cocktail party scene has one of Norman's friends, Leo, going around with a lamp shade on his head.
- Metaphoric Metamorphosis: The argument between Norman and his boss has the two regressing into little kids to show how childish they're being.
- No Plot? No Problem!: The short is just six minutes of vignettes from the life of a nebbishy businessman, book-ended by a catchy folk-rock tune from The '60s.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?:
- Norman goes to his father for life advice, but his old man literally floats around the room and rambles about the olden days.
- Norman pulls this on a friend who tries to tell an ethnic joke at a party, tuning out the body of the joke and only pretending to find it funny afterwards.
- Orphaned Punchline: During the party scene, Norman tunes out a friend's attempt to tell a joke about "a traveling salesman and an Eskimo", so we only hear part of the beginning and the very end: "And just before the icicle breaks, he screams out, 'That was no walrus, that was your wife!'"
- Something Completely Different: Instead of the usual slapstick and funny animals, this short features a Slice of Life story about a day in the life of a white-collar businessman, with a touch of social commentary.
- When I Was Your Age...: Norman's father doesn't actually seem to be listening to Norman, and just rambles about having to walk ten miles in the snow to school and struggling to get through the Great Depression.