Stop! Hammer time!

29Jun06

According to a friend of mine who works in a law firm, studies show that advertising doesn’t provide any significant increase in business for lawyers. Man, I thought, I sure don’t want to be the one to tell Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro he’s on the wrong track.

I hadn’t even thought about Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro in years. I haven’t seen one of his bizarre ads in forever, but he was one of my favorite low-budget shills, like David Bronstein, the “Go to the phone and call!” guy from the Dial-A-Date infomercial. (It turns out that this fourth-rate Seinfeld lookalike has rebranded himself as the Prince of Poker, and I’m happy to say he’s got streaming clips of his schtick on his new website.)

Shapiro wasn’t nearly as fun and friendly. He was — in his own words — an SOB, but he was your SOB. He was an ambulance-chasing personal injury lawyer out of Rochester, New York. And he was downright insane. He’d pop up, looking like a coked-up Jim Cornette (which is really saying something), slamming his fist on the table in front of him, and shouting, “I sue drunks!” (I assume he specifically meant drunk drivers, but I wouldn’t put it past him to just walk into an AA meeting and wallpaper the whole place with subpoenas.) He shouted everything. He screamed his own nickname. “I’m Jim … The Hammer … Shapiro!” he’d shout. Where he got the nickname “The Hammer”, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who dubbed himself the “tough, smart lawyer”. (It certainly wasn’t Syracuse lawyer Robert Williams, who called him “a malignancy on our system of justice”.) And I always assumed he nicked the surname “Shapiro” from famous celebrity defense lawyer Robert Shapiro, but according to Wikipedia, it seems to be his real name. (The mind reels that Wikipedia has an entry on Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro. Wikipedia knows all.)

What we do know about Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro is that he was incredibly pissed off. He was mean as a junkyard dog and apparently invincible in a court of law. You couldn’t beat him by, say, wearing a protective shinpad called the Hammer Jammer, like “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin did to Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. No, if Shapiro was coming after you, you were as good as dead. Not quite dead, but as good as dead. Actual Shapiro quote: “Hurt? I cannot rip the hearts out of those who hurt you. I cannot hand you their severed heads. But I can hunt them down and settle the score.”

Seriously. Watch the video on this site. My first reaction to those words: Holy shit, this guy is insane. My second reaction: This is what I want to do.

I don’t want to be a personal injury lawyer. I just want to be Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro’s ghostwriter. I think there’s a lot I can do with that bit where he says what he’d like to do, and then what he can do within the boundaries of the law.

For example, there’s this: “I cannot murder the one who hurt you. But I can ruin him until he’s so despondent he commits suicide. He will put a gun in his own mouth! I guarantee it! I’m Jim … The Hammer … Shapiro!”

Or this: “I cannot rape your enemy’s wife. But I can destroy his powers as a breadwinner until she seeks out the arms of other men! And I will be there to seduce her! I’m Jim … The Hammer … Shapiro!”

Or this: “I cannot eat your opponent’s children. But I can drive him into such a state of destitution and starvation that he has no choice but to devour his own offspring to survive. He will be driven to acts of cannibalism and lose his own humanity in the process, or your money back! I’m Jim … The Hammer … Shapiro!”

And it doesn’t stop there. I’m working on some new material where Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro doesn’t give people cancer, cut their brake cables, throw acid in their faces, burn down their houses, butcher their pets, spread false rumours of their sexual deviancy, disprove the validity of the religions they believe in, banish them to other dimensions, and travel back in time and smother their grandparents in the cradle, but does file aggressive lawsuits of such staggering litigational power that these goals are achieved for all practical intents and purposes. I’m working on new approaches too, like using Scandinavian death metal soundtracks and scientific studies showing that his negative energy impairs plant growth. I’ve got an idea for an ad where he simply screams into the camera for five long, terrifying seconds.

Let’s work together, Mr. Shapiro. I can help you. And I want you on my side. After all, as you said yourself, “When you’re in a war, who do you want on your side? A smiling, friendly good guy? Or a mean, nasty SOB?” I don’t even know if you’re still practicing. I don’t know if it’s true what they say, that you actually live in Florida and have never actually tried a case. I don’t know if you ever bounced back from that $1.9 million legal malpractice judgment and got back in action. I just know I can’t risk finding out the hard way.



6 Responses to “Stop! Hammer time!”

  1. Aside from the spine-liquefying nature of the moniker in legal circles, it would also make a damn fine porno name. Although it might be difficult to masturbate to a scene with someone salivating and screaming horrifying things into the camera.

  2. 2 Riley

    You don’t watch enough porn, Ryan Jett.

  3. This (from the Wikipedia article) made me laugh:

    “The frequency and effectiveness of these commercials eventually allowed him to be one of the first television advertisers to buy and run unprecedented one-second blocks of advertising time; just enough to shout “Injured?” while displaying the phone number.”

    That’s an enviable position to be in. Is one second really long enough to write down the phone number though?

  4. 4 Matt

    I’m sorry, Pete, but I think that actually tops your five seconds of screaming. In fact, the only way to improve on it that I can think of would be a half-second ad in which the number flashed almost subliminally, and Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro shouted “SHIT!”

  5. 5 The other Peter

    Soon to happen Shapiro quote: “Some guy on the internet ruining your good name? I cannot beat him so brutally about his head that he succumbs to amnesia, causing him to forget his own name. I cannot take someone he loves as a hostage, and blackmail him into publicly committing acts that will not only destroy his reputation, but any chance he has of future happiness. But I can take him to court and legally seize his name, his home, his job, his pets and even his family so he has no identity. Leaving him a nameless, homeless ghost wandering the streets, whose only choice is to end his own miserable existence.”

  6. 6 Kathy

    I need help finding original, or at least excellent quality Jim Shapiro commercial clips. If anyone knows someone who has access to them, please please please let me know! Thank you!!


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