The number of millennials that actually use their phones as verbal communication devices has been in steady decline since their inception. More often than not, cell phones are the only kind young people have, and usually people prefer texting or checking their emails than going through the hassle of actually speaking. It’s only older generations that bother with landlines. The days of classic rotary phones and numbers beginning with words such as “Klondike” are long since over.
Of course, phone calls are still prevalent in the business world, especially for teleconference calls and answering services that remain in high demand. However, there’s no denying that the telephone is gradually decreasing in popularity. For those of us who miss the glory days of the telephone, however, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.
Answering a telephone in an amusing manner is a tightrope. There’s nothing more painful than the doting parent who allows their kindergarten-age child to leave a message. George Carlin joked that the only way to deal with such an annoyance to leave a threatening response.
There are still intelligent, witty ways one can answer the phone that callers can appreciate, and always fun to be had with those pesky telemarketers. Here are just seven funny ways to answer the phone that will have you cracking up:
Most people are familiar with this greeting as Mr. Burns of The Simpsons trademark greeting, but those who know the history of the telephone will appreciate it more. Alexander Graham Bell never intended “Hello?” or “_____ Residence” to be the correct way to use his invention. He wanted his own formal greeting, coining “Ahoy-hoy”. It never caught on, but The Simpsons joke is much smarter than one would think: Mr. Burns is so old he was around at the time when Graham Bell was trying to make it fashionable.
“Hi, this is _____. I’m in right now so you can start talking at the sound of the beep. Beeeeep.”
Lifted directly from Steve Martin’s comic masterpiece L.A. Story – itself a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – this is a great way to throw telemarketers and friends for a loop. It’ll take them a minute to figure out if they’re talking to a machine at all. It’s more playful than funny, but if it’s someone you don’t want to talk to, just hope they get annoyed and hang up.
“Pardon me, I’ve got nothing to say.”
George Carlin had a great bit about keeping people on their toes; little things you can do to shock people back to reality. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of people walking around with an absentee mind, some with not much going on upstairs. Some never had much going on to begin with. This is just one way to remind people that the unexpected can happen, and the blunt irreverence of the statement will always be amusing.
“Hi, is ____ there?”
Turn the tables on the caller. Rather than wait for them to ask if someone in your household is available, ask them. For a moment, if you’re lucky, they’ll believe they didn’t actually initiate the call, trying to figure out just what happened. Bonus points to those who use naturally funny names. The more old-fashioned on uncommon, the better. Ignatius, Geraldo, Yolanda, Phineous and Ishmael come in very handy at times such as this.
For unrecognizable of unlisted numbers, nothing is more unnerving than the kind of heavy breathing Michael Meyers exhales in Halloween. Not only will the telemarketer think they’ve stumbled on an obscene call, it’ll probably stick with them for the rest of the day.
It’s always amusing to make someone think they’ve stumbled into a situation they aren’t prepared for, so make the screech as realistic as possible. It’s also handy to give it some context, as though they’ve tuned in just as something truly disturbing has occurred. “Marlene, don’t make me get hose!” opens the call’s imagination up to a number of scenarios with which they’d rather not deal.
Like screaming, this telephone etiquette takes a bit of performance. Try to convince the caller you’ve been waiting on a call from a criminal associate that you’re preparing to commit a felony with. It’s another one you that works best when you can make them think they’ve dialed the wrong number. Conversely, make them think the crime has already occurred and it went terribly wrong. Pretend a member of your crew caught a bullet and you’re waiting on “Dr. Stan” to tell you where to go.
As you can see, there are numerous creative ways to confuse, disturb or put off unwanted calls, or just have fun with friends. If all else fails, speak in another language. If you don’t know any other languages, pull a Sid Caesar and use gibberish that sounds like a plausible one. Phone calls are becoming more and more of a lost art, so have fun with them while you still can.