During normal television viewing hours it is quite unlikely that you will see Erik Estrada pitching time-shares, or if you do it's probable that you've been smoking a little too much weed during a TV Land CHiPs marathon. Late night it is almost guaranteed. Prime-time viewers are exhorted to buy cars and personal computers. If Aliens were to judge our society on late night commercials they'd likely think the entire economy runs on Lynyrd Skynyrd greatest hits albums.
By far the strangest offering of the late night TV set, though, has to be sex. Sex in prime-time is sold discretely. Buy this perfume or these clothes or this breakfast sandwich and you will be more likely to score with the sorts of wholesome hot chicks that populate every commercial not featuring a talking leprechaun. Late night viewers don't get anything that subtle. "Sexy Singles are waiting to hook up with you now" is among the least suggestive sentiments for the late-night viewer. As if the sexy singles awake at 3:30 AM are watching Doctor Who reruns instead of hooking up with other sexy singles at a bar. Even more explicit is the phone sex. "Pick up the phone, I'm waiting." She doesn't mean for her pizza.
The most bizarre commercials have to belong to a new offshoot of the phone sex industry, the sexual text messaging service. Sext messaging (A term I hope will catch on) combines the high prices of telephone sex with the total lack of sexiness inherent in a cellphone text message. Paying 50 cents a pop for some dude in India to send you a message saying "OMG U R so ht. I want ur Bod E" wouldn't seem to be an optimal usage of funds, but late night TV has plenty of such services available for the consumer who wants to get off looking at dirty messages on a 4 square inch LCD screen. Just remember that Sanjay has feelings too and would appreciate you not tell him you'll get back to him in the morning if you don't intend to do so.
The fact of the matter is that Late Night TV is the filthy ID of our consumer society. It is so consumed with the act of selling something, anything, to the poor souls who have nothing better to do that it lets the veil of illusion that obscures most advertising slip and literally tries to offer you things you couldn't possibly need or want at prices no sane person would pay. Somewhere out there may be a person who wants to buy a set of collectible plates dedicated to the band Journey, but that's not who the commercial is aimed at. It's aimed at the person who feels lonely and depressed and just wants to feel some sort of connection to society at large, something they can achieve by picking up the phone for this special TV offer. Operators are standing by. Sanjay is waiting.