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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?"