“Jerry, it’s Frank Costanza…George is dead. Call me back.”

A provocative challenge to leave on someone’s voicemail when you want to get their attention–even if what you have to say is not that important.

When George discovered that accidentally locking his keys in his car in a primo parking place at work made him look like the primo employee–first in, last out–he took off for a little R&R…until George’s boss thought he was R.I.P. And this was the WTF response that George’s father left on Jerry’s answering machine when he found out.

With texting, e-mail, and caller ID replacing voices in sending messages, voicemail demands the kind of creativity that George demonstrated when he once sang a famous TV show song with a twist on his answering machine (“…believe it or not, I’m not hooome”). But that was a voicemail greeting. Leaving a voicemail is another story–one that must often happen in mere seconds.

You can use George’s same creativity, courtesy of George’s dad, with this line that works on anyone. Substituting the proper names and even explaining the death reference is no problem because this is a shameless reference to the Seinfeld show–making this one unique among Seinfeld-isms: it doesn’t fit directly into conversation, so you’re likely to get a What was that? And that’s good, because you just got yourself a call back.

Equally good: you get to explain the origin of the reference and, perhaps, why you refer to this show at all.

And leaving a voicemail like this is a great illustration of why that is: referring to Seinfeld is the equivalent of having a bevy of comedic writers at your disposal, so you’re never at a loss for words. Not even when you call expecting to get someone on the phone and what you get instead is 15 seconds to explain yourself.

From “The Caddy”
Episode 12, Season 7
Seinfeld Volume 6, Disc 2
Timecode for the scene: 16:00

Dedicated to Chris and Matt

2 Responses

  1. This episode actually came into play in my professional life on the same day it was posted. I’m in the construction field and recently turned over a new building to the tenants. One of the tenant’s employees commented to me that his light would not shut off. I told him that, like George Costanza, this could be a good thing. The boss would think he was always around, the hardest-working employee.

    Better still, he replied to me that he had no intention of building a nap shelf under his desk. Safe to say – another Seinfeld-ian.

  2. And thus the origin of this blog itself: life is full of too many moments, addressed by too many Seinfeld lines, to not put the best of those lines into one place.

    Thanks for the anecdote! Too funny–and oh so cathartic–to hear how these lines come up in lives other than my own…

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