10/26/09

RVOD085 Call It Free, Part 1

(1950s-ish, Educational/Industrial/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

Let’s just skip ahead to the inevitable engine rebuild.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

A gas station mechanic clashes with ditzy dame.

Summary:

Call it Al.An avuncular service station manager reminisces about his favorite customer, a fantastically stupid young blond who stumbles her way through acres of auto maintenance malapropisms whenever she comes to the station. She agrees the manager’s every recommendation, racking up mechanic fees that give her abusive alcoholic husband apoplexy. We head round the malapropism/apoplexy circle two or three times before the husband finally storms down to the station to give the manager a piece of his mind. Given the narrator’s cheery demeanor, a happy ending is all but inevitable, but we won’t know for sure until the guys get around to riffing Call It Free, Part 2.

Thoughts:

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my gas station attendant experience before. It got me through my first couple years of college. Of course this was the nineties not the fifties, and instead of dithering about auto maintenance with idiotic housewives, I spent my time keeping the counters clean and the coffee pot full. Customer service-wise I mastered such important skills as chasing off drunks and schizophrenics while being painfully polite to gangsters, prostitutes and gun-toting rednecks. It was a very, um, special sort of neighborhood.

Call It Free hasn’t revealed its overarching customer service philosophy yet, but so far it seems to boil down to the following:

1) Your customers are morons.
2) You have to be nice to them anyway.

It’s a rather cynical message when you consider the short’s farcical tone, but if customer service can be defined as “keeping your customers satisfied, even when they’d rather not be,” it’s not far amiss. Maybe it’ll pull a reversal out of its derriere when we get to the second half, but I hope not.

The riffing works pretty well for a short that’s already a fairly successful comedy. A few of my favorite comments: When we see the title, Mike says, “I hope this is about beer.” When the manager goes on about his experiences at the service station, Bill adds, “Dropping out of the fourth grade was the best decision I ever made.” In the face of the woman’s relentless ignorance, Kevin recommends, “Please don’t speak anymore. You degrade the human race entire.” It’s a broadly played short that the riffers manage to punch up in just the right places.