Steve Martin cracks reverse mortgage joke at the 2022 Emmys

The joke poked fun at the demographic of reverse mortgage TV spokespeople, which the 77-year-old Martin now falls into

Mainstream television programming is not a common place to find any mention of reverse mortgage products, but the most common source of such content is likely to come from comedians. Still, that doesn’t often mean that reverse mortgages will be part of a monologue from presenters at a major entertainment awards event.

Comedian Steve Martin appeared onstage at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday night, broadcast on NBC. Appearing alongside his “Only Murders in the Building” co-stars Martin Short and Selena Gomez, the stars traded comedic barbs between each other before presenting an award, portraying the egos of Short and Martin as large and unwieldy, juxtaposed with the youth and popularity of Gomez. Martin then made his light, HECM-fueled crack.

“And now it’s time to get to the reason why we’re here,” Martin said. “Have you or someone you love ever considered a reverse mortgage?”

“Wrong gig, Steve,” Short replied to laughter from the audience.

Martin, who turned 77 last month, would not be out of place among the reverse mortgage industry’s spokespeople. He’s the same age as Tom Selleck – who has been serving as the spokesman for American Advisors Group (AAG) since 2016 – and is only a few years younger than actress Barbara Eden was in 2011 when she served as the industry’s only female television spokesperson to date when she performed in an ad for One Reverse Mortgage.

The reverse mortgage joke occurred before the presentation for the Best Variety Talk Series award, which was won by HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

Reverse mortgages are not necessarily regular topics on TV, but they do tend to appear most often in comedic contexts. In 2019, two leading late-night comedians on different networks – Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, respectively – made the same joke about reverse mortgages when poking fun at the presidential campaign announcement video released by then-Former Vice President Joe Biden.

Sometimes, though, the product category can serve as a plot point in narrative television. In early 2021, the premiere episode of the CW television series “Superman & Lois” featured a reverse mortgage as part of a plot point related to the farmhouse a young Clark Kent grew up in, explaining that his late mother used reverse mortgage loan proceeds to deposit additional cash in the college funds of her grandchildren while also providing financial support for fellow farmers hit by a downturn.

The common repeating of a relatively similar joke aimed at the industry’s advertising practices could reinforce the idea that there is a great deal of recognizability for reverse mortgage industry television advertising.

See the full segment at the Television Academy’s YouTube channel.

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