Home » Not From Space: TikTok as Early 2000’s Radio Ads

Not From Space: TikTok as Early 2000’s Radio Ads

Not from Space 20th anniversary cover art

This is a story whose overall plot is easy to follow, but not exactly compelling. The comedy in the form of fake absurdist radio ads feels like you’re listening to a TikTok or some other short-form online content. The original production premiered in 2003 on XM Satellite Radio (Now Sirius XM). This 20th anniversary version released last year on various music streaming platforms, such as Apple Music and Spotify. It costs 10 dollars to purchase and breaks down into four acts. it is not available as a podcast.

Mars Needs Bill Gates?

The zaniness of the plot feels very B-Movie, except with a lot more of a budget. To sum it up, Bill Gates decides to give all immigrants new computers for free. Citizens won’t get free computers at all. Of course, anytime immigration as a concept is brought up, a debate is sure to follow. Fortunately that potential plot thread is dropped before it got heated on both sides.

When I say “dropped,” I mean dropped like a sack of potatoes. Once the bag hits the ground, we’ve just past the inciting incident. Let’s just something happens to Bill Gates at the event and it causes conspiracists to theorize: who, what, when, where, and why and how of the event.

TikTok Before Vine = Radio Advertisements

The fake advertisements are both spot on it their production value and almost paradoxically funny in a temporal sense. If you missed an ad, don’t worry, it’ll come back — sometimes even funnier than the previous one. Despite the original audio drama releasing in 2003, the jokes are very much like the various short form content we see on sites and apps like TikTok and YouTube.

Such standout fake ads are JC Nichols: a clothing store that overtly insults the consumer. Menace Airlines with the tagline of “almost a good airline” and Phantom Insurance “Good luck with that.” The financial company Gary Edwards stole the radio ad competition for funniest tagline: “We need your money” and the delivery of those words is so spot on for how the ends of advertisements sound in the last second.

Conspiracies on TikTok

TikTok is no exception for the various webs of conspiracy theories out there in the world. One need look at the girl who claims the Romans and their republic/empire didn’t exist, or the classic the “who shot JFK?” mystery that’s already been answered. That answer isn’t spicy enough for some so their cognitive bias kicks in and sees evidence proving their claim everywhere and the proof contradicting going to the wayside and ignored. The late 90s/early 2000s setting was probably more fun when this audio drama first aired on satellite radio. Today, while the ad jokes are solid, the audio drama can sometimes feel like a an average-to-low budget alien invasion film. The movie “Mars Attacks!” released in 1996 and directed by Tim Burton is almost identical to this audio drama in terms of tone. “Mars Attacks!” was based on a trading card game. While both have the overarching plot of an extraterrestrial attack on earth, they go about it in different ways. For “Not From Space,” it takes a bit to get to the aliens.

The parody of radio being all about advertising is a bit of a cliche. In the early 2000s the joke was fresh. It makes one wonder if some of the more dated material involving two important Bills (Clinton and Gates) would benefit from a modernization.

7.5+/10 Stars