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Tuesday, August 12, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Comedian answers call of telemarketing revenge

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The federal government's new do-not-call list could save millions of Americans from pesky telemarketers, but Tom Mabe takes it one step further.

The comedian goes on the offensive with "A Wake-Up Call for Telemarketers," his new CD being released today.

Last year, Mabe, 36, traveled to Washington, D.C., for a telemarketers convention and stayed at their hotel. He waited until the wee hours of the morning — and started dialing.

Telemarketer: "Hello. Hello."

Mabe: "Hi, this is Tom Mabe. I'm calling on behalf of the Telemarketers With Insomnia Foundation. How are you doing this evening, sir?"

Telemarketer: "Excuse me?"

Mabe: "This is Tom Mabe. I'm calling with the Telemarketers With Insomnia Foundation. We call you at this hour only so you can better understand what these poor telemarketers with insomnia go through."

Telemarketer: "You're an idiot."

Mabe: "Sir, with your help, we can help some of these telemarketers get some rest."

Telemarketer: "You're an absolute idiot."

Mabe: "I don't appreciate you calling me an idiot."

Telemarketer: "Well, I don't appreciate being called at this hour. You're an idiot."

Mabe manages to ask the increasingly agitated victim for his credit-card number before the phone slams down.

While Mabe was commuting from his Louisville home to Nashville, Tenn., to write jingles and television-theme songs, he said, most of his inspiration struck at night. He slept during the day, when nearly every phone call he got was from a telemarketer.

"They wouldn't take no for an answer," Mabe said.

Eventually, Mabe started luring telemarketers into embarrassing situations with his quick tongue, which provided material for his first two comedy CDs.

He revisits the gag on his new disc. Mabe asks one caller to wait while he sees who is at the door. Listeners then hear Christmas carolers, followed by shotgun blasts and shrieks.

"Telemarketers tell you that they are just doing their job, but some of them will rip you off," Mabe said. Anyway, "telemarketers hate telemarketers."

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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