The Best Cable Television Prank Calls

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.
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6. Women with horses

The prank: 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 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.
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5. Thank you for taking my call dot com.

The prank: 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 ( 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 f**k 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.
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4. Brian Lamb doesn t take s**t from nobody

The prank: A caller on the Republican line asks C-SPAN's Brian Lamb when he lost his virginity. When Lamb, apparently baffled by the question, asks the caller what he means, the caller responds in a very-matter-of-fact manner by asking, "When did you get fucked?"
The reaction: Apparently Mr. Lamb doesn t deal in euphemisms. He s puzzled by terms like virginity, but when you shoot him straight and ask him when he first got fucked, well then he knows what you re talking about, and he ll even thank you for your frank phone call.

3. Good morning!

The prank: A common mistake of rookie prank callers is to rush their delivery, preemptively launching a juvenile penis remark. But here we have a seasoned veteran at work; he slowly builds up to a juvenile penis remark. His drab C-SPAN-speak lead-in serves two functions. It lulls his target into a false sense of security and forms a sharp contrast to the penis enlargement punch-line.
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The reaction: Complete shock. His eyes go wide and then his mouth drops open. He is a credit counseling expert. Not exactly known for the bluest humor in the world. When the next call starts off he s still so rattled he can barely squeak out a good morning.

2. Well, there s the one on Battle Star Galactica&

The prank: The caller draws from disparate themes war, robots, space aliens, deities, Battlestar Galactica in his call but deftly adds them in a way that can only equate to one clear message: I am a complete kook. Pulling off the prank call whacko impersonation is a tricky business but the caller, Republican from Chattanooga, nails it with his delivery: a deliberate drawling voice so believable that you can almost see his tin foil hat.
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The reaction: Curiosity. The C-SPAN host asks the caller to elaborate on his views of the robot wars. While it would be hilarious if we could chalk up the anchor for actually taking the bait, realistically, he is probably aware as a professional news anchor that there is currently no robot war. More likely, working on C-SPAN, Republican from Chattanooga was the most interesting call he had all day.

1. Hi, you re on the air

The prank: Viewed individually, the prank calls here You suck big dicks! and Suck my dick! can be dismissed as sophomoric insults, but the pranksters compensate for their lack of creativity with a relentless attack on public access host Ken Sander. The real question is how many prank callers are at work here. It sounds like at least a couple buddies in a room working the phones, but we d like to think that it started off with just one guy, and that one guy gave the next guy the idea to tell Mr. Sander to suck his dick, and then from there that guy paid it forward to the next caller who hurled a homophobic invective at Ken. Whether it s an illusion or not, by the end it sounds like the entire city of New York is calling in to tell Ken to blow them.
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The reaction: Surprisingly unflappable, Sander is like a cross between Stuart Smalley and Rocky. He may not cut the most imposing figure, but he won t stay down no matter how many times you hit him. And for a man whose television career has peaked with a public access show is only watched so that people can ridicule him Sander displays a remarkable reserve of dignity. He s like the youngest brother in a large, abusive family that keeps popping back up after merciless beating from all his older brothers.
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