March 1999
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Who Ya Gonna Call?

by Jessica Brandt

The other day I reached for my phone in an attempt to make a long-distance phone call.

"What number?" I said. "What number do I call? Oh dear Lord have mercy, WHO DO I CALL??!?!?!"

Making a long-distance phone call these days is no easy matter. There's 1-800 numbers, 10-10 numbers, cheap long distance rates, psychic friends, etc. How's a person suppposed to "reach out and touch someone" these days? It's a hassle, I tell ya.

So I began to think about who is telling me to call what numbers, and given their status, who would I trust the most to tell me about long distance carriers? Nevermind the actual numbers. I see those commercials enough times each day to figure out who's selling what AFTER I decide who to look for.

Here are my choices:

Celeb: Dennis Miller
aka: Dennis Miller, Weekend Update Anchorman
Selling Points: First a "poochie" and now a just-as-smarmy little kid in a movie theater.
Do I Trust 'Em?: Well, I liked him on SNL. Don't care too much for what I've seen of his HBO show. Don't like the beard. Getting grey.
Do I Call?: I don't think so.

Celeb: Christopher Lloyd
aka: The Rev. Jim Ignatowski, Emmit "Doc" Brown
Selling Points: Bunch of hip kids in a taxi. Recreating his druggie character from Taxi. Would make a good sitcom-sequel.
Do I Trust 'Em?: Sure I do! I can't believe he ressurrected the Reverend for a commercial, tho. And he is a LITTLE too convincing as a guy with 2 brain cells.
Do I Call?: Maybe if I need a cab.

Celeb: Larry "Bud" Melman
aka: Larry "Bud" Melman
Selling Points: There he is again! That wiley Larry "Bud" Melman pops up in the strangest places!
Do I Trust 'Em?: Huh? A short, fat, grey-haired man with Coke-bottle glasses? The Robot from the Future asks "What is your purpose, Larry 'Bud' Melman?"
Do I Call?: What? Huh? Can Larry "Bud" Melman work a phone?

Celeb: David Arquette
aka: That guy from Scream
Selling Points: Crazy guy. Accosting young people outside of a convience store. Wears a sweatshirt with large foam buttons on it.
Do I Trust 'Em?: I'm afraid if I don't make the call his way, he just might kill me. Plus, he's got a catchy little tune, I'm sure he made up all hisslef.
Do I Call?: Yes. c-a-l-l-a-t-t. c-a-l-l-a-t-t. Wanna touch my buttons?

Celeb: Ed O'Neill
aka: Al Bundy
Selling Points: The original 10-10 pitchman. Hasn't been busy since Married, With Children. Now has a steady job.
Do I Trust 'Em?: He'll always be Al Bundy to me. Then again, Al was pretty harmless. Maybe if I show him my "titties" I'll get a free call!
Do I Call?: Yes. I would call Al Bundy. He's a SHOE SALESMAN!

Celeb: Damon Wayans
aka: Homey the Clown, Mo' Money guy
Selling Points: Bowling with Al Bundy? Yeah, sure.
Do I Trust 'Em?: No. Why the hell does Damon Wayans need to make commcerials? I thought his career was doing well! Oh, that's the OTHER Wayans brothers with a show...
Do I Call?: No. I can't believe him. I don't think he needs my support.

Celeb: George Carlin
aka: The Hippy-Dippy Weatherman, George Carlin of the George Carlin Show
Selling Points: More like selling OUT points! He's got a new book out, he's still funny as hell...why? Why George?!?!
Do I Trust 'Em?: Yes. it's not fair that he's using his smooth stand-up to reel me in. I would buy anything from George Carlin. But I don't have to like it.
Do I Call?: Yes. Okay?!

Celeb: Wayne Knight
aka: ...Newman
Selling Points: The original 1-800 guy. Made some realy funny commercials.
Do I Trust 'Em?: It's hard to decide. I mean, he's one of Jerry's arch nemesises, and I like Jerry. But he's also Kramer's best friend. And I like Kramer too! Oh, how I do hate a well-scripted plot!
Do I Call?: Yes. Because he's the only celebrity with whom I can actually link a number.

Celeb: James Garner
aka: Jim Rockford
Selling Points: How nice. He's talking to real people. Just like you and me.
Do I Trust 'Em?: No. I never liked The Rockford Files. I don't understand police dramas, especially 70s police dramas.
Do I Call?: No. No no no! (okay, I called once. They told me that 10-10-9000 wasn't a real number! bah!)

Celeb: Paul Reiser
aka: Paul Buchman, Mad About You
Selling Points: Awwww....everyone loves Paul and Jamie! They are just the cutest couple! And they are so REAL! *puke*
Do I Trust 'Em?: Funny, but overdone. REALLY overdone. I mean, why does he always find himself having to explain long-distance calling to regular people? Shouldn' the have a person that shops FOR him?
Do I Call?: Maybe, if I can talk to Murray the dog.

Celeb: Candace Bergen
aka: Murphy Brown
Selling Points: Murphy Brown. A woman of the 90s! Dan Quayle made fun of her in a speech. Pee Wee Herman was on her show.
Do I Trust 'Em?: Well I'm not sure if she is still doing Sprint, but I liked her commercials. They played almost as wel as the "Foldgers Coffee" soap opera. "Where's Candace?" Brilliance.
Do I Call?: A dime a minute, you say? Sure I'll call!

Celeb: Doug Flutie
aka: Doug Flutie, really old quarterback
Selling Points: well, he has those Flutie Flakes, which is like Wheaties, but he's always on the box. They're for his son, who's autistic. Like Rainman
Do I Trust 'Em?: But does 10% of his commercial go to the Autism Foundation? Does 10% of each of my calls go to the Autism Foundation? Did you split the money you got for the commercials 20-20-60 with your brothers?
Do I Call?: I'd rather have the cereal, thanks.

Celeb: Lucky Dogs
aka: Sometimes as George and "Weezie" from The Jeffersons, otherwise known as freaky dogs in clothes.
Selling Points: Dogs. In clothes. With human hands and feet. Ha!
Do I Trust 'Em?: Hell no! I don't care how innovative you say William Wegman is! DOGS WITH HANDS SCARE ME! Also, those dogs never look happy to be there. I don't understand how you can teach a dog to sit still for 4 hours under hot lights, yet you can't teach them to smile.
Do I Call?: No! I run screaming from the house!

When it comes down to it, I still don't know who to call. My mom got me a pre-paid phone card for Christmas, because she doesn't know how I can call her. The phone card requires that I dial 50 numbers, including my Social Security number and birthdate, but at least I don't have to make a choice on what number to call. It's THERE, on the card!

Hopefully someday we can all rest easy, and Bill Gates will monopolize the long-distance companies with "Microsoft T&T" and we can all just shout into the heavens "God, dial mom, please!" and it will be good.

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