I was recently alerted to this delightful video thanks to a Twitter thread by a viewer who remembered seeing the video on public access many, many years ago. In 2001 in Denton, Texas, a house made up mostly of local art students decided to put on a performance art project of a yard sale. Everything mostly seems normal, except that there are no price tags on any of the items, and the entire circus is run by a mysterious masked man in costume on stage with a microphone known as “The Pricemaster,” who responds to offers and inquiries (“EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE. MAKE ME AN OFFER”) with absurdly high prices for every item and a weird, dissonant noise-and-feedback soundtrack as the backdrop– a hilarious contrast to the Denton locals who take yard sales extremely seriously. (Denton, for the record, is a suburb of Dallas and home of the University of North Texas; if you’re familiar with Texas or even if you’ve seen King of the Hill, you probably have a pretty good idea of what the locals are like.) Negotiations and offers are finalized with a booming “THE PRICEMASTER HAS SPOKEN.”
While the gimmick seems like it could get old quickly, the whole video is only a little over half an hour, and it remains funny to see the serious salegoers try to sincerely engage in negotiations, only to be rebuffed with preposterously high prices (which often rise even further in response to complaints). A couple of people seem to get the joke and find it funny, while others try to negotiate seriously, and a few more try to figure out what the hell The Pricemaster’s deal is. No one from housewives to kids to more housewives are spared from The Pricemaster’s demands. Personally, I never get tired of hearing him respond to reasonable offers of, say, five dollars for some junk, with a bellowing “FIVE… HUNDRED… THOUSAND DOLLARS!” or the like. (And it’s equally funny to hear moments like a woman negotiating with “I need this stuff!” about a half-full box of dominoes and a single nunchaku.)
And the perfect button on this, thanks to one of the original participants finding the Twitter thread about the video more than twenty years later:
The only thing we sold was a dollar bill which was priced fifty cents.
— Rick Perry (@RichardHPerry) December 29, 2022
Thanks to The Ploughman for letting me fill in on this week’s Lunch Links.