In the past, prank calls were strictly masturbatory, a joke told for the sake of yourself and the stranger you called to humiliate. Fortunately, a national stage has emerged for those men and women who delight in ridiculing complete strangers via telephone: cable television. TV producers, too unoriginal or cheap to generate actual content, have increasingly turned to call-in segments to fill airtime. Through these shows, the telephone is now a mouthpiece to every television set in the United States.
It s the perfect stage for a prank. Not only can prank callers display their craft, they and everybody else can see the reaction of the victim in real time. Here are six of our favorite television prank calls and the elicited notable responses they elicited on national television.
6. Women with horses
With a few different crank calls interrupting this C-SPAN segment on viewer s favorite Web sites, this clip serves as a valuable case study in technique. The first caller shows how not to prank. His joke is convoluted and confusing, leaving the viewer puzzled instead of laughing. But the second call is clear and direct: His favorite site is womenwithhorses.com. It s simple but references bestiality, what more do you need?The reaction:
Remember that teacher in grade school that had absolutely no control over the kids and whose classes always devolved into a Hobbesian state of nature of endless spit-ball fights and fake fart noise contests. By the end of the year, the teacher was completely defeated and stopped even attempting to discipline you, instead somberly saying things like, I am just so disappointed with you guys. When the C-SPAN anchor says, Thanks for the call, we appreciate it, he sounds just like what that teacher would have sounded like if she had to fail at her job on national television.
5. Thank you for taking my call dot com.
During the blackout of 2004, a prank caller posing as a representative from the New York Transit authority calls in to Ted Koppel s live broadcast to inform a national television audience what s going on down in the powerless subway tunnels. By maintaining a calm and serious tone, the caller is able to drop the name of his website (thankyoufortakingmycall.com) at least a dozen times and casually mention that Beauty and the Beast are down in the subway too without getting cut off. The reaction:
It s tough to tell what Koppel s doing here. It could be that he doesn t listen to what people are actually saying to him, and simply reacts to the tone in which they speak. It could be that Ted Koppel is so old that he just accepts everything with the words dot com at the end because he stopped trying to understand technology once they invented the automatic transmission. Or it could be that Koppel knew he was being pranked the entire time, and rather than cutting the guy off, just decided to completely fuck with the callers head by not acknowledging that anything out of the ordinary was going on. Give the caller enough rope to hang himself, so to speak, like the cagey old coot that he is. If this is the case, Koppel scores his check mate when the guy says, Ted I don t think you hear me, and Koppell tells him he heard him fine. If Koppel is just old than that part is just really sad. Either way, based on this clip, we can say with confidence that Ted Koppell is either a genius or a lunatic and that there is no in-between.