Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"You can call me Ray, you can call me Jay..."

There are commercials you can’t get out of your head, and then there’s Ray J. Johnson, who took earworms to a whole new level with his “You can call me Ray, you can call me Jay, but ya doesn’t has to call me Johnson” schtick. The comedian –- real name: Bill Saluga -- elbowed his way into the pop culture consciousness in Anheuser Busch Natural Light commercials of the late ‘70s, with Norm Crosby. Woe to you if your name was Ray, Jay or Johnson -- you got an earful of catchphrase every time you introduced yourself.

Over the years, Ray J. has popped up as a frequent punchline on “The Simpsons,” and no barb was more perfectly served up than when Krusty the Clown mentioned that the only bad show he put on was the one Ray J. co-hosted. “That thing was funny for about three seconds,” Krusty said. Amen, clown. Amen. Still, Saluga rode the Ray J. wave for years – even putting out a disco song (“Dancin’ Johnson”) in 1979.


briank said...

He was also regularly featured on "The Donny and Marie Show", and I can't recall now which thing made him popular first, the beer commercials or D&M. He only had that one shtick, so seeing him every week got old pretty fast. My father thought he was hilarious, though, and even many years later would break into "You can call me Ray..."

Mike said...

Krusty was right. But I still remember the commercials so they worked, I guess.

I remember the song, I think. Or at least I can remember him singing the same lines.

Deanna said...

There's a "King of the Hill" episode where Bobby discovers a Ray J. album in his dad's closet and spends the entire episode trying to figure out why people thought it was funny.