Veteran ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne brought back his long-running, crowd-pleasing act during today’s upfronts presentation: a 5-minute standup bit where the Washington state native dryly roasts the TV ad racket.
While not quite as well-known as upfronts appearances by broadcast late-night hosts Jimmy Kimmel (at ABC), Seth Meyers (at NBCUniversal) or Stephen Colbert (at CBS) the Mayne musings are often just as entertaining. Here are some highlights from the 2018 edition.
“We had big data a couple of years back,” he recalled. “Remember that? Giving up all of our personal information so that some outside entity could use it to their advantage? What if that had gone wrong?!”
Marveling at the pace of change, he wondered, “Does anybody have any clue about what the future’s going to bring? ESPN does. ESPN alone has a complete understanding of the nuances and vagaries of the media game. And not just this year but next year and in perpetuity throughout the universe.”
Mayne, who had taken the stage in a yogi’s floor-length white robe, then led the audience in brief spoofs of yoga and meditation exercises. “When I climbed the last 500 feet of Mount Rainier, I was never more alive,” he said with faux-earnestness as the big screen filled with a bucolic mountain image. “I looked at the perfect creation in front of me and I envisioned how some 30-second spots could be repurposed into 15s and run on autoplay on the ESPN app. Namaste. Be the best you. Find your authentic self, even if you have to lie to yourself to find it.”
Soon he had abandoned the chill vibes, declaring “yoga sucks,” and instead commanding a small group of aerobicizing extras. “Skinny bundles don’t actually make you skinny,” he observed. “Advertising on Monday Night Football does that.” (Several ad buyers let out groans at that line, which hit a nerve after two years of NFL ratings drops on all networks.)
Mayne then picked a different target as he continued to lead the mock-exercises. “Breathe in, breathe out. No seriously, keep breathing,” he said. “Fewer ads for 70% more money is a good thing … NBC said. Now run in place. Run fast. Now faster. Faster! This is how fast NBC is running from that statement. If things go bad for me here, I have no problem with NBC. We’re cool. That joke came from way up top.”