The Pee-wee Herman Store at JCPenney and existential dread

I am not sure who put together this commercial for the Pee-wee Herman Store, but they are either a genius or quite mad. The ad itself is about 30 seconds long. 26 seconds of it is completely wordless. Featuring children dressed in Pee-wee Herman Store clothing dancing crazily to rhythmic music. They dance for so long that it borders on surreal.

There are certainly clues as to what you are watching. Especially if you are a Pee-wee Herman fan. The clothing has Pee-wee in it and the music and background reminds you of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. They even flash his name briefly at the start of the commercial. But what if you knew nothing of Pee-wee Herman? What might you think you are watching?

Learn all about Pee-wee Herman on the Retroist Pee-wee Herman Podcast

If you are watching it in 1989, when it was released, I imagine it would grab your attention. You would think, where is the announcer for this commercial? Wait, is this a commercial? Is something wrong with the sound on my TV? Who are these children? Is this music the music of madness? Am I alone in a cold unknowable cosmos?

Then at the 26 second mark sweet relief. As we learn that the Pee-wee Herman Store is coming to JCPenney. Suddenly it all makes sense. You turn from the TV and rest your head on the pillow. Perhaps you will dream of secret words and playhouses where childhood never ends, but alas.

All you hear is the music. Those drums! Can’t you hear them? Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Watch this classic commercial for the Pee-wee Herman Store at JCPenney

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