Comic's album targets telemarketers

Sunday, August 17, 2003

— The federal government's do-not-call list has saved millions of Americans from pesky telemarketers, but Tom Mabe had to take it one step further.

The comedian and jingle-writer goes on the offensive on "A Wake-Up Call for Telemarketers," his new CD being released Tuesday. Last year, Mabe traveled to Washington, D.C., for a telemarketers convention and stayed at their hotel. He waited until the wee hours of the morning -- and started dialing.

He claimed to be calling on behalf of the Telemarketers With Insomnia Foundation, and met with this reply: "You're an absolute idiot."

While Mabe, 36, was commuting from his Louisville home to Nashville, Tenn., to write jingles and television theme songs, he said most of his inspiration struck at night, leaving him to sleep during the day. When the phone rang, almost every call was from a telemarketer.

"They wouldn't take no for an answer," Mabe said. "I tried to be nice, but nothing worked."

Eventually, Mabe started luring telemarketers into embarrassing and awkward situations with his quick tongue, which provided the material for his first two comedy CDs.

He revisits the gag on his new disc. Mabe asks one caller to wait a moment while he sees who is at the door. Listeners then hear Christmas carolers, followed by a series of shotgun blasts and murderous shrieks.

Mabe then asks the confused telemarketer -- who was selling a service that pays your credit card bill if you are incapacitated -- if the system works for people in prison.

"Telemarketers tell you that they are just doing their job, but some of them will rip you off," he said. Anyway, "telemarketers hate telemarketers."