‘Can You Hear Me Now’ Guy, Free From Verizon, Sounds Off

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You know him as the “Can You Hear Me Now” guy, or perhaps the Verizon Guy, or the Test Man as he’s called within Verizon, but his real name is Paul Marcarelli, and he’s finally allowed to speak.

The Atlantic has written a rare profile of Marcarelli, who’s feeling comfortable about publicizing his other work now that Verizon has decided to phase him out. (Apparently Verizon plans to move in a different direction with its ads, and gave Marcarelli the news via e-mail last September. This is news to me.)

In the interview, Marcarelli says he had to stop wearing thick-rimmed Buddy Holly-style glasses to avoid attention, and at his grandmother’s funeral he could hear someone whisper “can you hear me now” as the casket was lowered into the ground.

“Don’t feel bad for me, but I’m definitely glad that chapter is over,” Marcarelli told The Atlantic’s Spencer Morgan. “Most people my age are now trying to trade in their street cred for money, and I kind of made my money. I still want to make something of value.”

Marcarelli is referring to his work in film. He wrote and co-produced a film called The Green, about a small town scandal that turns the residents against a gay couple, one of them a schoolteacher. Marcarelli, who is gay, said much of his silence in recent years was self-imposed, as he didn’t want to answer uncomfortable questions that could hurt his income stream. Until 2006, Verizon did forbid him from promoting his own projects.

Even now, Marcarelli can’t spill all the beans. He’s still under contract with Verizon and may do some occasional work for the company. Just don’t expect to see him testing the carrier’s wireless signal at the end of every commercial.

I think he went out at a high point. Verizon’s iPhone commercial, which takes a subtle swipe at AT&T when Marcarelli says, “Yes, I can hear you now,” may be his finest work.