You know the Verizon Guy—he's the bespectacled image you conjure whenever you're forced to use the phrase "Can you hear me now?," the physical embodiment of corporate branding worming its way into your every day vernacular.
If you're annoyed by the Verizon Guy, think about how bad it is for poor Paul Marcarelli, the actor who played him. The Atlantic tracked him down and chatted with him about his acting career and life in general, which has been dominated across the board by his long-running schtick. How bad is it?
A few months ago, he attended his grandmother’s funeral. As her body was being lowered into the ground, he heard the hushed voice of a family friend: “Can you hear me now?”
He's also been forced to ditch his preferred style of glasses—Buddy Holly plastic frames—in favor of more subtle wire-rims. The Atlantic woefully does not supply any photos, but frankly, Marcarelli should be grateful his Verizon persona remains so closely tied to those glasses. He's a fine looking lad, but largely forgettable—without the glasses, Marcarelli could march up to me on the street and lick the side of my face, and I'd have no earthly idea who he was. Teenagers, of course, never forget:
Then there were the drive-bys. Marcarelli has a home in Guilford, Connecticut, and five summers ago, kids in an SUV began driving past at night, yelling, “Can you hear me now?” Later, says Marcarelli, “they started screaming ‘faggot’ up at my house. It got progressively more profane as the years went by.”
But maybe Marcarelli's going to be okay? He's boldly going forward with his life, as one does after a multi-billion dollar corporation has finally sucked all the ad impressions out of it.
“There’s a price to pay,” he said gravely. “Don’t feel bad for me, but I’m definitely glad that chapter is over." If your cell reception is especially good, perhaps you can make out that sound—a very tiny, very quiet violin. Clear as a dinner bell, though.