Ray J. Johnson Jr.
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Raymond J. Johnson Jr. is a character created by comedian Bill Saluga.
Saluga's shtick as Ray J. Johnson is to become annoyed when addressed as "Mr. Johnson," exclaiming in a loud voice, "My name is Raymond J. Johnson Jr. Now you can call me Ray, or you can call me J, or you can call me Johnny, or you can call me Sonny, or you can call me Junie, or you can call me Junior; now you can call me Ray J, or you can call me RJ, or you can call me RJJ, or you can call me RJJ Jr. . ." ultimately ending with, "but you doesn't hasta call me Johnson!"
The spiel received more widespread attention in the late 1970s after being used in a series of commercials for Anheuser-Busch Natural Light beer. Saluga appeared alongside comedian/pitchman Norm Crosby echoing (in a roundabout way) Norm's advice to unknowing customers on how to more easily order the lengthily-named beer: "Well, y'doesn't hasta call it Anheuser Busch Natural Light Beer, and y'doesn't hasta call it 'Busch Natural.' Just say 'Natural!'" Saluga then later launches into the "You can call me Ray" routine at the mere mention of the word "name."
Saluga, as Raymond J. Johnson Jr., was also a frequent guest on Chuck Barris' The Gong Show.
In 1979, Saluga appeared in a TV commercial for a Simon-like electronic game called Einstein. Once again referencing his famous bit, he shouts: "You don't have to call it Johnson! The game is Einstein. Or you can call it ein, or you can call it stein...."
Capitalizing on the relative fame of Raymond J. Johnson Jr., Saluga and composer Evilan Tom released a disco single called "Dancin' Johnson." The single reached #115 in the Record World charts in a 15-week run.
In popular culture
Ray J. Johnson was mentioned in 1993 and again in 1999 (as Ray Jay Johnson) on the TV show The Simpsons. In the 1993 episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled", Krusty the Klown mentions that the only bad show he put on was when Johnson co-hosted, saying "That thing was funny for about three seconds." Later in the episode Krusty's rival Gabbo, a Hand-Puppet, asks what guests they have to compete with Krusty's comeback, and his head spins when he finds out that Johnson is their only guest. Lisa Simpson shared the same sentiment in the 1999 episode "Mom and Pop Art", claiming "I'm sick of him already" after hearing Homer recite the first few words of Johnson's bit. In 2002, Saluga himself appeared as Johnson in the episode "The Old Man and the Key", as a performer in the "Stars Of Yesterday" variety show being held in Branson. In the episode "Brother's Little Helper" Homer asks whether something is "Ray J. funny or O. J. funny?"
In the June 13, 1998 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 906, reference to a ray of light prompts robot puppet Tom Servo to blurt out "Well, you can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay..." before stopping. He was also referenced in other MST3K episodes.
In a post-season-13 episode of King of the Hill, "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day," Bobby Hill struggles to comprehend why the show's middle-aged characters consider Ray J. Johnson funny. After forcing himself to listen to a Ray J. Johnson vinyl record in his room multiple times, Bobby finally breaks out in epiphanous laughter.
- The "You can call me Ray" bit in RealAudio format, from tvparty.com
- Bill Saluga on IMDb
- Ray J Commercial and Disco Song Dancin' Johnson at http://www.retroist.com
- allcommercials (2009-02-05), You Can Call Me Ray, retrieved 2017-11-25
- Einstein commercial at YouTube
- "Redd Foxx Show : Redd Foxx Comedy Hour". TVParty.com. 1978-01-26. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
- "Krusty Gets Kancelled". The Simpsons. Season 4. Episode 22. 1993-05-13.
- "Mom and Pop Art". The Simpsons. Season 10. Episode 19. 1999-04-11.
- "The Old Man and the Key". The Simpsons. Season 13. Episode 13. 2002-03-10.
- "Brother's Little Helper". The Simpsons. Season 11. Episode 2. 1999-10-03.
- "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day". King of the Hill. Season post-13 (syndication only). Episode 4. 2010-05-06.