America, you may not know Paul Marcarelli by name but if you see him on TV in a Dickies jump suit and a phone in his hand, you’d instantly recognize him as “The Verizon Guy” who coined the catchphrase “Can you hear me now?”

Now the guy who has become a punchline for rappers on the verge of stardom but already stars in their own neighborhood is out of a job after Verizon gave him the axe.

But the gig came with a price.

He tells The Atlantic how, at his grandmother’s funeral, a family friend whispered “Can you hear me now?” as her body was being lowered into the ground.

Marcarelli, who is gay, also says that kids used to drive past his home in Connecticut at night, yelling, “Can you hear me now?” and spewing gay slurs. He says he never filed a police report because he was afraid of the publicity.

“I didn’t want to be put in a position to have to answer any uncomfortable question that would affect my income stream,” says the actor, who reportedly received up to $6,000 a commercial.

[via OMG!]