Pranks For The Memories

You goddamn kids, you better not write about this on the internet when it gets invented!

I started making prank phone calls due to an AT&T malfunction in the late 1970’s. The phone rang and I picked it up to hear a phone ringing on the other end. “Hey, come here and check this out,” I said to my older brother. “I answered the phone, but it’s acting like I called someone!” After a couple more rings, an irritated man answered on the other end and kicked off one of the more surreal phone conversations I’ve had to date. “Hello?” “Uhhh, hello?” “Hello?” “Hello?” “HELLO?” “Hello?” “HELLO!” “Hello?” “GODDAMIT, WHO IS THIS?”

He then launched into a profanity-laden stream of abuse aimed at “you goddamn kids” that included an awful lot of words that an eight year old shouldn’t be expected to understand. Then my brother leaned a little closer to the mouth-piece and started laughing loudly at the man. “HAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” This enraged the man further, and he unloaded another salvo of profanity until he caught his breath, paused, and said in his most authoritative voice, “Ok. This is it. You kids are going to give me your names and phone number RIGHT NOW, or you will be in a LOT of trouble. Right now. Go!” Needless to say, this tactic did not work. My brother said, “No, we are going to hang up on you, and you are going to sit there and like it! HAHAHAHA!!!” The last thing we heard before we hung up was a veritable atom-bomb of curse words. And as we hung up, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow! You can have a TON of fun with people on the phone.”

Well, it was fun for us anyway.

Well, it was fun for us anyway.

And so my new career started, first with typical childish pranks (“Is your refrigerator running?”), graduated into more sophisticated humor (“Hey, did you know that your phone number is 639-SHIT?”), and finally got to the point where the Secret Service opened a file on my parents when we prank called the White House. That started when my younger brother and I started escalating our pranks in an effort to outdo each other. So, hell, I figured I’d go straight to the top.

Me: Hi, can I have the area code for Washington D.C. please?

Operator: Yes sir, that area code is 202.

Me: Hi, can I have the phone number for the White House?

Operator: Yes sir, here you go…

White House: White House press desk, how may I direct your call?

Me: Yeah, let me talk to Ron.

White House: Ron who, sir?

Me: Ron who? Ron who-do-you-think? The Big Cheese! The Head Honcho! Ron Reagan! C’mon, hurry up, I’m very busy.

White House: Just a minute, sir.

Me: (to my brother) Holy shit, They’re transferring me somewhere!

(45 second pause with a lot of clicking noises)

White House: Sir, may I remind you that you are calling The White House?

Me: (starting to figure out what just happened) Uhhh… yeah. Good point. Thank you.

White House: Good bye.

Sitting somewhere in a storage room owned by the Secret Service is a box. And in that box is a folder. That folder is labeled, “Persons of Interest, July, 1982”. And in that folder is a piece of paper with my parents’ names, their phone number, their address, and a transcript of the phone call. We never told my parents about that phone call, because we were not retarded (although obviously we were hovering near the border line of that designation). But if they had found out, I’m sure I would’ve spun the situation appropriately. “Well, that’s got to be flattering! You know, being called interesting by the White House! I wonder if you can get that framed?”

Framed.

Framed.

But that didn’t really stop me, or even slow me down. One time, in college, I drunkenly called 911 and asked them to “turn off the rain” because we wanted to play wiffle ball. It was 4:00 AM. But technology finally took a lot of the fun out of fucking with the phone. Now almost every person blocks anonymous calls, and corporations have devised cruel and unusual ways of ensuring that they never hear from actual customers by sending them to Voice-Mail Hell. Still, occasionally I’ll call a small business and speak with someone, just for old time’s sake.

(ring ring)

Bartender: The Man Hole.

Me: Hi, yes, this is the Man Hole? The Bar?

Bartender: Yep. What can I do for you?

Me: And you’re a… Well, that’s a … a gay bar, right?

Bartender: Uhhh… Yeah.

Me: Super. Great. Listen, I’ve got a business dinner tonight, and I’m having a hard time deciding between slacks and khakis. I mean, it’s not a super-formal event, so I think khaki’s would be ok. But then what do I wear with it? I think a Polo is too casual, but a dress shirt seems too much, so I may as well wear slacks. But then it’s kind of cold, so I thought slacks, a dress shirt, and a sweater vest. But it’s argyle. Do people still wear argyle? I don’t know. So what do you think?

Bartender: I think you should shove your head up your ass, fella.

Me: Whoah, whoah, whoah, let’s not mix business with pleasure there, guy. C’mon, I really need your help on this.

Bartender: (click)

Anyway, here are some video clips of some prank phone calls I got a kick out of. First up, the kind of thing you’d expect to happen on a call-in cable access show in New York. You gotta hand it to the guy, he hung right in there. (The fun starts about 1:00 in).

Next up, a husband enlists the help of a radio station to prank phone call his wife. And it goes horribly, horribly wrong.

This next one is actually a prank email to a Christian cable access show. See how long it takes before you can figure out what’s going on.

Finally, what starts off as a lame prank phone call to a religious public access show turns into a 5 minute train wreck when the host cannot figure out how to hang up on the caller.

That’s it for now. Have a great weekend, and make sure you let Prince Albert out of that can.

17 Responses to “Pranks For The Memories”

  1. Brett Minor says:

    I really felt bad for that last guy. Although, if you are going to be in charge of the phone while taking live calls on TV, you should know how it works.

    • Greg says:

      Yeah, I know. But he seemed woefully unprepared pretty much across the board. And he KNEW this guy was going to fuck with him. You could see it in his eyes. “Be nice now!”

      My favorite part was when the caller started getting bold. “Hey! I’m talking! Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking!”

  2. La Juice says:

    Its a deep dark desire of mine to prank call the NPR Car Talk Guys, as Seymour Butts or Dewey Cheatham Howe, and describe a problem with my fake Transam kit car that calls me Michael. But they have a tough vetting process. I never make it to the first round- even when I tell them I have a 10 year old volvo with a fan that won’t stop running, and a strange smell coming from the vents.

    If a white woman – allegedly- from “Vermont” with a old volvo can’t get air time on Car talk, what hope do we have?

    • Greg says:

      Some of the people who vet calls are VERY good, almost psychic in picking out the jokers.

      One of the funniest ones I saw was live. It was on some Wall Street news show one of my roommates had on for some odd reason. The guy called in with what he said was a two part question. The first one was a very good question which spawned a 5 minute debate.

      “Excellent question. You said you have a followup question?”

      “Yes, this question is for Mr. Barnes. Do you have both hands on your penis right now?”

      Mr. Barnes, who did have both hands below desk level, looked down, put his hands on the desk and blushed as the other host hurried to the next call. It was so unexpected that it was hilarious.

  3. I used to be big on prank phone calls until my neighbor friend convinced me to prank call 911.

    An hour later, the cops showed up. They talked to my parents, and apparently my parents agreed to play along. I was then handcuffed, read my rights, put in the back of the squad car, and driven away.

    After two blocks, and me in tears, they turned around and looked at me. “Have you learned your lesson?”

    I was 8, and traumatized. Of course I did.

    They let me go, and took me home. Then I was grounded for a week. My room was a lot nicer than a jail cell…

    • Greg says:

      That is motherfucking parenting!

      When I did it in college, my roommate pulled the phone plug out of the wall. The cops never bothered to show up. I told my roomies, “I ought to murder every fucking one of you, just to teach 911 a lesson!” We drank a lot back then.

  4. Vesta Vayne says:

    Oh the last one was a little painful, I only made it a minute in – how do you run a call-in show and not know how to use the equipment?

    Ken Sanders, on the other hand, took it like a pro.

    About a year ago my husband’s car was broken into. The woman that lives across from us parks near him, so I told her what happened. About 15 minutes later I heard people running up the stairs and then bang on my neighbor’s door. It was the police. I guess her grandkids heard us talking and decided to call 911. The cops were very nice about it, but it was crystal clear the older of the two put his little brother up to the call.

  5. Pish Posh says:

    Okay look. I watched the gay swedish reach around on a moped or whatever the hell that was, a reporter going nuts, and a whole lotta weird shit. Beginning to end. But I can’t bear these videos! People are so stupid! It makes me cringe.

    My brother used to prank people all the time. He’s always call my dad and fool him. He’d do a horrible female voice and tell my dad his name was Sally and my dad would just be polite and flustered and uncomfortable.

    But my brother also called all kinds of other people. One time he somehow managed to leave a message for Dr. Dre, pretending to be a studio rep or agent or something. My brother was about 14. I swear to god Dr. Dre called back and left a message saying he might be interested let him know etc and left a number. My brother and his frieds listening to it 900 times and shit themselves at least 40 times.

    I used to date this good looking cage fighter. But he loved to crank call people and pretend he was gay. He’d start out okay and then start flirting with them and pretend like he had AIDS and was an old partner the person must have forgot about and he was just calling everyone he slept to let them know he had AIDS. He also tape recorded all these stupid calls and kept trying to get me to listen to them. It was right about that time I realized he was a fucking idiot.

    • Greg says:

      We used to call a random house and I’d say this:

      “Hello, yes, name name is Randy Merman, and I’m an AT&T field technician. We’re testing some lines in your neighborhood right now. Can you tell me if you’ve noticed any line noise, like popping or hissing noises?”

      “No, I haven’t noticed that.”

      “Hmmm… That’s what I thought. Ok, can you do me a favor and during the next 30 minutes, if the phone rings, do not answer it. We’ll be doing some high voltage testing on the trunk. Although the chance is slight, there is a chance that the person calling you might experience a mild shock. Thank you.”

      Then we’d wait twenty minutes and call. And it would ring and ring and ring and ring. When the person would finally give up and answer the phone, of course, we’d scream bloody murder while playing a zapping noise we had on a tape recorder.

      Another good one was to pick a number and start calling it. “Hi, is Bob there?” “No, you have the wrong number.” “Ok, can you tell him Phil called?” And over the course of the next two days you’d keep calling that number every couple of hours, switching the name around. Finally, you’d call up and say, “Hi, this is Bob. Have there been any messages for me?”

  6. Laylah says:

    I remember making prank calls as kids..back in Finland we have a surname “Hirvikallio”. Translates to Mooserock. So when they answer the phone the will say “Hirvikalliolla” meaning this is Hirvikallio residence, but also means “there is a moose standing on a rock”.

    So we 10 yr olds found it funny to reply to him “OMG why don’t you shoot it down then?”

    ha-ha-ha.

    We laughed like crazy, doesn’t seem so funny anymore though.

    And yes Finnish language is very complicated!

    • Greg says:

      A very good friend of mine is from Helsinki, and he used to try to explain to me the meaning behind some common Finnish phrases, and they made NO sense to me. So we’d have another beer and laugh about it.

  7. Squatch says:

    I think you’re selling yourself short on this one. What about calling Sears about breaking your leg on one of their trampolines? Or calling my night auditors at the hotel on one of my few days off, saying you wanted to bring your dozen dogs to the hotel and knock the wall out adjacent to the next room so they had enough space? This comedy should not be unspoken!

    I wouldn’t quite call this a prank call, but the best phone trick played on me was by the older brother of my friend in junior high…

    “Hi, is Vince there?”

    “Yes, he is.”

    *60 seconds of silence*

    “Uh, can I talk to him?”

    “Oh, you want to talk to him? Just a minute… Vince, phone!”

    • Greg says:

      Yeah, we had some serious fucking beer-fueled phone laffs in that apartment, didn’t we? But I will always remember the one that got away, at 2:00 AM:

      Front Desk: Thank you for calling Holiday Inn, how may I direct your call?

      Me: Room 302, please.

      (ring)

      Some Mook: Hello?

      Me: Yes sir, this is the front desk. I don’t mean to alarm you, but (stifled laugh) we have a small (laugh) fire and (laugh, giggle, snort) we need you to flee the building and (giggle) wave your arms in the air going (snort) AAAAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!

      Neither of us could keep a straight face through that one.

  8. Rusty says:

    The Fresh Prince of the Dark side is my favourite

    I was never one to do phone pranks. My mother kept a keen eye over the phone bill and anything out of place ended in trouble for me.

    My friends were more interested in playing SEGA

    • Greg says:

      Hell, for a while, I used to do prank letters. WAY more disconcerting than prank phone calls. What’s more disturbing, getting a weird phone call, or living in Olathe, Kansas and getting a letter in the mail one day that simply says, “I Know!”?

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