Where did this originate? I remember there was a TV commercial where someone says this, but wasn’t that a spoof on something that had been done before?
There was a comedian named Ray Jay Johnson who did this. Pretty much his whole act consisted of, “You can call me Ray; you can call me Jay, you can call me…” As Krusty the Clown once said of him, “Boy, did that get old fast.”
Oh. My. God. Yeah, I dunno if he originated it, but that was his schtick—still is, as far as I know, I’m pretty sure he’s still alive. I remember seeing him on every goddam variety show in the 1960s.
Someone would call him Johnson and he—always decked out like a 1940s gangster—would spiel, “YOU can call me Ray, or YOU can call me Jay, or YOU can call me Ray-Jay, or YOU can call me Jay-Jay . . .” etc., etc., ending with, “But ya doesn’t hafta call me Johnson!”
It did indeed get old pretty fast.
Wasn’t this guy part of a comedy troupe which had a short-lived tv show back in the 70’s? Firesign Theatre maybe?
Nah, he was way too old for Firesign Theater. He was already middle-aged and somewhat seedy around the edges by the 1960s . . . I’m pretty sure he was a second-rate vaudeville and nightclub comic in the 1940s and '50s.
Then it was The Ace Trucking Company. I KNOW I’ve seen this guy on a regular TV show in the 70’s or early 80’s. He may have made some commercials too, but I’m pretty sure this is the same guy or at the very least someone who “stole” the routine if, as you say, someone was doing it in the 40’s or 50’s. I mean, it does seem very vaudevillian in its schtick.
He was on Redd Foxx’ short-lived variety show form the 70’s. There was also a bald black guy on the show who would be in a panel discussion and end up saying “Oh yeah? But can he do this?” and then balance stuff (tables, chairs, etc) in his mouth.
The man you speak of has the real name of Bill Saluga and he was part of the Ace Trucking Company.
He had a lot of guest appearances on sitcom in the mid 1990s, but according to the IMDB, he seems to be retired or otherwise gainfully employed.
Ouch, that’s AWFUL. I had to ask, didn’t I?
This guy, or an impersonator, used to make regular (if not weekly) appearances on the David Steinberg show - which IIRC was on CTV in the 70s. I never knew before now that he had a history other than/prior to that!
Does anyone know if the guy on the David Steinberg show was the real thing? Or a parody?
I’m pretty sure that was the same guy. I can’t imagine anyone else wanting to duplicate that act.
Didn’t one of the Miller Light commercials about 15 years ago tap into this? Was the original guy part of the commercial, or was it an homage?
I’m not familiar with Ray Jay Johnson or Bill Saluga, but this reminds me of a passage in John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” I don’t remember when this was published (my internet connection is wack, can’t connect to Amazon.com) but I would guess around the `40’s. I could be 10 years off in either direction, though.
In the passage, which takes place around the turn of the century, a family is having trouble with their car. They call a mechanic, who turns out to be an officious little prick. He makes a big deal out of telling everyone to just call him Ray. The kids are in awe of him, but one of them hears someone call him ‘Joe.’ The kid asks why he tells everyone to call him Ray, and the mechanic says, “Because my name is Joe,” and then walks away, snorting.
Not sure if this is related to the routines or the commercials, though.
Hope this helps.
I remember Ray Jay Johnson appearing on all those 1960s variety shows: Dean Martin, Flip Wilson, Ed Sullivan, etc. Kinda short, seedy-looking guy with slicked-back black hair.
I did a name search on him: and Ray Jay Johnson holds the distinction of being THE ONLY PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE WITHOUT HIS OWN WEB SITE! That has to count for SOMEthing!
I remember the commercial now, and at some Variety Night show at my college, some people did a takeoff on that. This would have been sometime between 1976 - 1980. So it sounds likely that the original guy could have been in the commercial.
It must have been the pot that made that seem funny.