Disclosure: I may earn affiliate revenue or commissions if you purchase products from links on my website. The prospect of compensation does not influence what I write about or how my posts are structured. The vast majority of articles on my website do not contain any affiliate links.
Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental & Storage – Original Commercial
Posted: November 12th, 2008
Genre: Comedy, Spoof
Creator(s): Big Dog Eat Child (produced), Robert L. Hines as Toby Jones
The Toby Jones Big ASS series is well documented, as far as early viral videos go. Most of the background information I have is sourced directly from Robert L. Hines’ Wikipedia page. Not to take away from how significant it is to have starred in the early social internet but I strongly suspect that there is some PR firm behind this extremely detailed Wikipedia page.
Anyway, Big Dog Eat Child is a Chicago-based sketch comedy group that had an early Youtube presence. For one of their first videos, one of their oldest still on the channel, they found a local comedian named Robert L. Hines and convinced him to star as Toby Jones.
The video was meant to be a parody of the hard-selling infomercials that some of the Big Dog Eat Child people had seen while growing up in Chicago.
It ended up becoming a notable early viral video. This was one of the most-viewed videos when it premiered on Youtube, and many content creators were talking about it. Back then, it was hard not to encounter “viral” videos on YouTube. There weren’t that many excellent videos being released each day. Many videos simply took off and “everybody” saw them. Eight million views aren’t all that much today but YouTube has probably grown by a factor of 100 since then.
I hope this is one video that historians come back to because it’s just… good. It grabs your attention, it’s an effective parody, it’s silly enough that you might think it’s a real business, and, most of all, it’s interactive. You’re provided with Toby Jones’ number. According to the Wikipedia page, this was his real number and he was overwhelmed by the phone calls.
I will admit that I called the number, and the voicemail message did indeed identify as Jones’ Big ASS Truck Rental and Car Storage. What a memory.
While the group remains a bit of an enigma, the channel is filled with a lot of quirky original content. As you might expect, the Jones’ Big ASS series and spinoffs completely dominate the channel’s popular uploads. Whether the creators made any money from this is not even a question since you only have 35,000,000 lifetime views divided by 7 not accounting for Mr. Hines’ cut. It was pretty interesting to hear that Smosh got completely railroaded in terms of being compensated for their early videos, so I doubt this comedy group got broken up over financial disputes or anything of the sort.
The Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental & Storage commercial is 1:36 long and doesn’t waste any precious airtime. It opens to a scene of a cramped, junky room with the phone number already plastered on the bottom of the screen. Though not rare for the era, the square video resolution makes this look fittingly dated.
Eight seconds in, the video might as well be over. Short, sweet, Chicago twang. All the elements of a masterful sales pitch.
“Why leave anything on your front lawn …”
“You can store all that stuff my way down here at Jones Big ASS Truck Rental & [Car] Storage!!”
One second later, you see Toby for the first time. He has the title of Owner/Driver/Junk Specialist. This wasn’t particularly funny to me as a kid, but having lived in Chicago and worked with a few different moving/etc specialists (guys with trucks), this title is actually a commentary on the tendency for owners to be owner-operators, performing nearly every business function required and having very few staff, if any.
Toby goes into a tirade against common items that can clutter up your space. Among my favorites “You ain’t the Dukes of Hazard!” while seated on a junk car that resembles the General Lee. He then resorts to throwing an old dishwasher rack before slashing his prices on everything from tires to motorcycles. “I don’t care, bring it on down here!” he says emphatically.
As the seconds quickly pass by, Toby breaks his flow to question his pricing: “How in the hell can he store this stuff for such a cheap price?” The video then cuts to his storage method before Toby admits that he’s “pretty drunk right now.” I always found this humorous because there’s this question of whether Mr. Jones is of the right state of mind or if he even owns the business in question. Today, I find this revelation (a “drunk discount sale”) crass and unfunny. He then gets ridiculous, asking if you have an elephant, want to send a smoke signal, have weed(?)–I’ll store anything you want.
The quick cuts here just work. I’m not saying nobody else was doing them back then, but it took a long time for this style to catch on. You feel compelled to pick up the phone and call this number. I actually did way back then. I also respect that they still own the domain http://jonesbigasstruckrentalandstorage.com which redirects to their Facebook page.
This wasn’t the last we’d see of Toby Jones, but this is his appearance that I feel is most worthy of being preserved. Thank you, Mr. Jones.
After the Video
Including a real phone number with the video was brilliant. The comedy group made a few extra videos where they just played back the most entertaining voicemails. They also continued making Toby Jones videos and quickly followed up with Jones’ Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage. That video was even more popular than the first!
The second video, which has more than 2x the views of the one that started it all, is a solid example of the “quick cut” style that would later be perfected by other content creators.
Unfortunately, the next few Toby Jones videos weren’t great. The views were significantly lower. The group started publishing other videos including a few featuring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures. They then transitioned to a beer review series and other low-budget comedy sketches which were only getting a few thousand views.
Recently, it seems that Robert L. Hines has broken off on his own and started making the videos on his own channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=879YPQAIieI. It makes you wonder when this went from “cool” to “we can make money from this.” It’s crazy that the brand and character spurred by that original viral video is still making appearances. It is nice to know that some of the magic has been preserved, aside from Hines’ hyperactive publicist.
Aside from all the spinoff videos, someone, presumably someone from the comedy group, continued to maintain the Facebook page for the fictitious business and still, to this day, posts funny statuses. Way to keep it alive.