Series / Crank Yankers

"You're on CNN! The show that leads into me is puppets making prank phone calls! What is wrong with you?"

Crank Yankers is a live-action and puppet show that used to air on Comedy Central and also for a brief time on MTV2.

The premise: transcripts of real crank calls are re-enacted, cutting between the rooms of each end of the call (usually with lots and lots of Background Gags going on). The victims and pranksters are played by Muppet-esque puppets.

In the U.S., it is illegal to record and broadcast prank calls without both parties' consent... except for Nevada, which only requires one (i.e., the callers). So, nearly all the calls are made in Nevada. However, this made taping and broadcasting episodes fairly uneven due to many of the celebrities being based in California.


  • Bear Trap Bed: Featured in one segment.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Karl Malone calls a collector's gallery asking about Beanie Babies, which they don't have and don't want. He then inquires about Barbie dolls, which they have, but he won't go into specifics about what he supposedly wants, instead beginning a rambling story about some Barbies that his little sister once had. After a while of this, he asks again if they have Beanie Babies and when is again told no asks "What about the Beanie Barbies?" at which point the owner hangs up.
    Karl: Don't hang up on Karl Malone!
  • Candid Camera Prank: A variant, as the show consists of re-enactments, but it's the same idea.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: The short Confucius sketches where he tells a classic dirty joke. He explained the "Wife who puts man in doghouse will soon find him in cathouse" joke in two words when closing.
    • He normally closes with "Get it?" which can easily kill the other jokes he tells.
  • Dirty Old Man: Niles Standish, a rich British earl, he likes to do things like calling up a woman who does calligraphy and try to have her make up an invitation for "an ass-slapping competition."
  • Drinking on Duty: This is the main thrust of the "We Get To Drink" call, adapted from a call originally recorded by the Touch Tone Terrorists. A woman dials up what she thinks is United Parcel Service (UPS), hoping to find out what's going on with her missing package, not realizing that she was one number off and has instead reached the Yankerville Parcel Service (YPS), where she's certainly not likely to get any actual customer service. She is eventually passed off to "Blade," who may have set her package on fire, and finds him to be apparently stoned. However, when she is then transferred to Junkyard Willie...
    Willie: Yeah, he drunk off his ass. He drunk. That's all. He just drunk. He ain't always like that.
    Customer: Drunk? That's not supposed to go on at UPS.
    Willie: Come on. It's Saturday.
    Customer: What you mean, "come on"?
    Willie: I said it's Saturday.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first season featured a different 'Cammie' who was blind, has curly blonde hair, and was accompanied by a seeing-eye dog.
  • Funny Background Event: Sometimes the gags going on in the background are actually funnier than the contents of the calls themselves.
  • Gasshole: Bobby Fletcher of the belching variety.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: After each basket scored on Niles Standish's basketball team, the Las Vegas Showman, they have to cheer, "Hurrah, hurrah, what fine chaps we are. What a gay occasion."
  • Hypocritical Humor: Elmer (old man character) called a cable provider and complained about a show featuring "sick, puppet things".
  • I Can't Hear You: Elmer tries to make an appointment to get hearing aids. Over the phone. You can see how this could go wrong, can't you?
  • Overly Long Gag: One sketch involved Special Ed interviewing someone by repeatedly asking him: "Do you know any slow or special people?" It went on for nearly five minutes before the guy finally hung up.
    • Another time, Special Ed had AOL Mail open during a call, and every time he got an e-mail, he would say "I've got mail! YAAAAAAYYY!". At one point, he did this eighteen times in a row.
  • Potty Failure: One sketch involves the mentally handicapped character "Special Ed" tearfully phoning a health club to apologize for peeing in the pool. The manager acknowledges his apology, and kindly reassures him that it's okay... which prompts Ed to happily shout, "I peed in your pool! YAAAAAAYYY!" repeatedly.
  • Sound Effects Bleep: For certain names and establishments, but phone numbers are interestingly bleeped out with their respective DTMF counterparts.
  • Super OCD: The aptly-named OCD Ken, who requests bizarre things from his callers such as pushing certain buttons on the phone.
  • Third-Person Person: Karl Malone. "Don't hang up on Karl Malone!"
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: Mercilessly inverted and parodied with the disclaimer seen at the beginning of the show,, which gleefully informs viewers that "The calls you are about to hear are real. The names have not been changed. Screw the innocent."
  • Title Theme Tune: Two different ones, actually. The first one, "Come one, come all, 'cause we're having a ball / We're just making some calls to strangers..." is by far the most well known. The second, "This the new edition, Mr. Telephone Man..." was only used on the brief revival seen on MTV2.
  • Verbal Tic: For Niles Standish, "Let me just ask you" or "Let me ask you this" and "Yes, yes?"