Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The death of answering machine art



Hello? (angry) You're going to have to talk louder!

(long pause)

I'm not here right now, so if you'd like to leave a message, that would be great! Get back to you soon. BEEP!

Aaaah, one byproduct of the infiltration of iPhones and other smart phones into the world is the death of funny answering machine messages. I remember, not so long ago, when some budding artists would create extensive hilarious answering-machine messages. My parents even had one with a laugh track on it as they pretended to tickle Santa Claus. I love painting. I love sculpture. I used to not mind wacky answering machine greetings. What happened?

Most voice-mail greetings nowadays either are just the phone number or an extremely terse machine. If you're actually still doing the funny answering machine, we either hate you or ... you're freaking hilarious.

Of course, the answering machine has been critical to a lot in pop culture. Jon Favreau's ridiculous messages to his ex-girlfriend in "Swingers" come to mind as does the Replacement's Song "Answering Machine."
But to me, the creme de la creme of answering machines used in pop culture has to be the episode of "Seinfeld" in which George Costanza's recording uses the theme song from "The Greatest American Hero."

Believe it or not, George is not home.
Please leave a message at the beep.

As I ponder what happened to funny and lame answering machine greetings, I believe that they were simply turned into apps. Maybe goofy-ass messages have turned into a tomcat who mimics what you say. Maybe "The Jerky Boys" have transformed into Angry Birds. Perhaps one of the Crank Yankers is the Flappy Bird.

I must be out, or I'd pick up the phone.
Where could I be?
Believe or not, I'm not home.

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