Judging by the laughs elicited by the bathroom humor last night at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, you'd think the Crosby Street lit den had been overrun by a bunch of lowbrow numbskulls.
But no, a highbrow crowd had assembled to hear panelists Susan Kim, co-author of menstrual history book "Flow," Allison Silverman, former executive producer of "The Colbert Report," and comedian Sarah Haskins discuss the failures of feminine hygiene companies when advertising menstruating-related products to women.
"So great seeing you all here!" Haskins said to the packed house, before spoofing one of the more embarrassing ads on steady TV rotation by adding the catchphrase, "It's giving me a mildly uncomfortable eruption."
Showing a few clips from “Target Women,” her popular (and now-defunct) advertising-dissecting segment on Current TV, the Chicago-native tackled the big issues, from fiber cereal ads that skirt their excrement-promoting purpose to wacky foreign commercials that employ lady-part euphemisms.
It truly was a period powwow of the highest order. Kim gave the audience a hilarious history lesson in menstrual product marketing, while Silverman declared she was "made for a tampon ad," before launching into a slideshow in which her personal photos -- from wedding pics to vacation snap shots -- were photoshopped to look like advertisements for Tampax.
Of course deeper issues were broached, namely society's inability to tolerate female imperfection. But every time the talk got heady, Haskins was quick to make good on her promise of "always following up something smart by saying something silly."