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Series / Crank Yankers

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The crank calls you are about to hear are real.
The names have not been changed.
Screw the innocent.
— Disclaimer before every episode from season 1 through 4

Crank Yankers is a live-action and puppet show that used to air on Comedy Central and also for a brief time on MTV2 co-created by Daniel Kellison, Adam Carolla and the far better-known Jimmy Kimmel. It was revived in 2019 for a Season 5 and again in 2020 for a Season 6.

The premise: transcripts of real prank 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. When not airing prank calls, the show makes the puppets do raunchy explicit things such as go to gay bars, strip clubs, perform public sexual intercourse, enact racist stereotypes, etc. as a form of Foil to the Muppets. 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. The show also helped bring fame to Pete Dzoghi, a man who basically made a career out of doing prank calls before selling them as albums for money. In 2011, Adam Carolla pitched a hand-drawn animated spinoff centered on his character Dick Birchum to Fox called The Birchums but FOX refused to pick it up.

Crank Yankers has these following examples of tropes, Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy!!!

    open/close all folders 
    Seasons 1- 4 
  • Asshole Victim: Mostly depends what kind of victim the Crank Yanker phoned. Many victims were telemarketers and scam callers. Some of the victims were as every bit a jerkass as the Crank Yanker given they also used hostile language and tried to counter-insult the Yanker.
  • 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!
  • The Bully: Arguably the entire premise of the show.
  • Catchphrase:
    Special Ed: "YAAAAAAAAAAYYY!!!"
    Elmer Higgins: I can't hear you!
    Bobby Fletcher: (belch)
    Niles Standish: Double it!
  • Candid Camera Prank: A variant, as the show consists of re-enactments, but it's the same idea.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Junkyard Willie only made 2 appearances in Season 1 and never showed up again in spite of his significant presence in the opening sequences for both Season 1 and 2. He doesn't appear at all in Season 2. This probably has to do with the fact that Junkyard Willie was a character from the calls originally recorded by the Touch Tone Terrorists and they simply chose not to use anymore of these calls.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Hadassah when she lost her diary in a landfill called them to start digging for it, and offered $15 in return.
  • Comically Small Demand: In a sketch by Dom Jon asking for settlement money over a car collision (that probably never happened), Dom Jon at first asks for $2500 but lowers it to $2000, then $800, then finally a back-rub or food stamps.
  • Creepy Cockroach: Jim Gaffigan keeps calling a pizza parlor telling them they're infested with cockroaches because his daughter had a pizza from them with a roach in it, and that he's affiliated with the "Church of Cockroaches" so he's coming over for a pest control check-up, making the pizza parlor man lash out at him on the phone to stay away. When it's closing time, man-sized cockroaches take over the parlor and start making the pizzas themselves.
  • Crying Wolf: Invoked by the crank callers often, but a case of (fake) crying comes up in a Season 2 episode where Katie Kimmel called a pet store to tell the receptionist that she sold her brother (Kevin) a snake and that it ate her hamster, crying on the phone and calling the receptionist a son-of-a-bitch and threatening to "kick her in the balls". Turns out, Katie never owned a hamster and she made up the whole story.
  • 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.
  • Double Entendre: Elmer one time called a bus terminal to tell them he lost his pacemaker in one of their buses and tells the call receiver "You stole my heart!"
  • Dirty Cop: The show's intro depicts a police officer partaking in prank calls himself, let alone uses an emergency call box to do so.
  • 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.
  • Driven to Suicide: In a Special Ed sketch where he called a Dinky Donuts store to play a prank call on the responding baker, his co-worker Fred the Baker got so fed up with having to make donuts that he committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth through the brain with a frosting dispenser.
  • 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.
  • Female Misogynist: Katie Kimmel. She loves to insult other women for their genitalia, usually with her brother.
    Kevin: Do you have chicken breasts?
    Meat butcher: Yes.
    Katie: Where do you buy your bras? (Kevin and Katie laugh)
  • 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."
    • Elmer wants to go on a gay cruise so he can have a gay old time.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Elmer called a cable provider and complained about a show featuring "sick, puppet things".
    • Junkyard Willie who complains to one of his victims "Don't be talking trash about me" and "I don't need to hear no trash from you" when really he himself insults and offends other people who called him.
    • Special Ed in his call to space camp complained he doesn't like the show Crank Yankers.
    • Kevin Kimmel complains to a magician about how gay magic is, when he himself is doing so to levitate cookies and milk. Though mostly to fully averted since Kevin acknowledges he's prank calling.
  • 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?
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Kevin Kimmel when he called a librarian asking her to define what "Bitch" means and he said it was for his homework. The librarian gave him the canine definition, but Kevin claims that doesn't sound like the definition he was looking for stating that he heard his dad say he's going to put that bitch (Kevin's mom) in the "hospitable". The librarian asked if Kevin wanted the definition for his homework or for his family issues.
  • Implausible Deniability: In the call "Hits a Deer," Bobby Fletcher calls up his electrical company to talk about a problem with his bill on his cell phone while driving. He then crashes the car and claims to the representative on the other end of the line that he hit a deer, continuing to calmly talk about his electric bill even as the guy he actually hit moans in pain and shouts.
    Man: You hit me! My leg!
    Representative: Who's that?
    Bobby: It's the deer.
  • Improbable Age: Kevin Kimmel one time tried hiring a house-sitter, who complained he could tell Kevin's a kid.
  • Insult Backfire: Happens a lot whenever the victims try firing back insults at their callers.
  • Invisible Parents: When Katie and Kevin Kimmel do prank calls, they get several requests that they hand the phone over to their parents. Katie claims that her parents aren't around, while Kevin would just try faking being his own dad. In one prank call Kevin did to a library, Jimmy did pop up at the very end saluting Kevin's efforts.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: A lot of the crank call victims often mutter (or yell) when not talking to the crank caller and you can hear what they're saying.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Jimmy Kimmel's kids Kevin and Katie also participated in prank calls pissing off a bunch of people (especially Katie, who has a worse attitude than her brother). In their debut appearance, Kevin and Katie shoplifted from stores and stole their dad's money.
    Katie: Do you have pig feet?
    Meat butcher: Yes.
    Kevin: Where do you buy your shoes? (both Kevin and Katie laugh) Sucker!
  • Manchild: Elmer Higgins, an elderly manchild at that.
  • Motor Mouth: The bowling alley manager who Kevin and Katie called when they try to ask him, "Do you have 8-pound balls?" The kids repeatedly tell him to stop chewing the fat and just answer yes or no.
  • 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.
  • Papa Wolf: When Dom Irrera dialed a prank call to report that a teenage boy had scratched his car in a collision without leaving a note and trying to get a financial settlement for $2500, that boy's father helms the phone to rebuff that his son wasn't even driving at that time claiming there's witnesses to prove it. That doesn't deter Dom from continuing to pester him for money.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Katie and Kevin Kimmel respectively. Their clothing doesn't reflect this trope, but rather the color of their bedroom walls.
  • 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.
  • Proud Beauty: One sketch has Cammie calling a desk clerk to gloat about how beautiful she is and asking her how does it feel to be ugly.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The main goal of the prank calls is to get the victim to have a meltdown on the phone as loudly and angrily as possible. Most victims however just hang up or calmly tell them off or don't get angry at all. Junkyard Willie was one of the very few successful ones who met this goal. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that the Junkyard Willie calls were incoming calls and therefore the caller had something that they wanted. As opposed to the outgoing crank calls, in which the person being called generally had no good reason to remain on the line if they didn't need to.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Often escalates into a war of who can give the better one between the prank caller and victim. Though what makes this interesting is the victim's speech is based on misinformation, and the prank caller is being dishonest.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Katie Kimmel one time called a pet store to complain that her brother's snake ate her hamster.
  • Rudely Hanging Up: This was a common endpoint for the calls as whoever was on the other end finally had enough of the craziness and simply chose to end the call.
  • Siblings in Crime: Katie and Kevin Kimmel.
  • The Slacker: Lots of times the puppets call people to do menial tasks that are easy/simple enough to do themselves but are just too lazy.
    • The puppets at YPS (Yankerville Parcel Service) such as Junkyard Willie only answer customer service calls just to mess with the callers or try to turn the blame around on them for whatever problems they called about, not help them out with any complaints.
    • Elmer after losing his pacemaker on a bus asks the terminal to send the bus to him, prompting the desk clerk to pressure him to come to the terminal instead (after and if they find his pacemaker, which they haven't).
  • Sound Effects Bleep: For certain names and establishments, but phone numbers are interestingly bleeped out with their respective DTMF counterparts.
  • Special Guest: The show was notable for it's copious amount of guest stars that brought their humor and wit to the show. Notable guests included great comedians such as Dave Chapelle and Gilbert Gottfried, along with other celebrities such as Dane Cook and Steve-O.
  • Spoiled Brat: Jimmy's kids Kevin and Katie qualify, given that their dad naively leaves around loose cash for them to steal. If you look closely, you can see Kevin wears a wristwatch and Katie has rings on both her middle fingers.
  • Surreal Humor: Jeff is a bizarre middle-aged man whose calls mainly involve him saying strange, unrelated phases to the point where the people hes calling just roll with it.
  • Telephone Song: Both of the theme songs qualify: "Come one, come all, 'cause we're havin' a ball. We're just makin' some calls to strangers!" and "This the new edition Mr. Telephone Man. Somebody playin' on the lines, run as fast you can!"
  • 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."
  • Threat Backfire: Katie Kimmel once called a clothes store asking for a credit card and she angered the clerk enough to get him to threaten to call the police on her. She eggs him on, "Go ahead and call 'em! I've been arrested before." Also she's not doing anything illegal because prank calls are allowed in Nevada.
  • 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.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Special Ed called a Dinky Donuts asking them if they make donuts with their butt or if their customers put donuts in their butt. The operator enthusiastically responded Yes to all these ridiculous questions and so Ed hung up because the prank call didn't go too well.
  • Verbal Tic: For Niles Standish, "Let me just ask you" or "Let me ask you this" and "Yes, yes?"
  • Visual Pun: Jonathan Kimmel in a Season 3 prank call when he posted a "Help Wanted" ad was able to get his victim to do ridiculous things as though he were a puppet like pressing multiple numbers on a phone (just to get asked to press more numbers) and say "Oops" into the phone over and over.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Exaggerated during Danny's call to a rabbi about converting in preparation for a marriage to a Jewish woman, from hearing about circumcision to how many rabbis are needed for the ceremony. Slow-motion footage of it is even used during the episode's credits.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Katie occasionally acted like a crying girl in distress during her crank calls.

     Revival / Seasons 5 and 6 
  • Adapted Out: Special Ed has been axed out of the reboot by the network, as over time he was invokeddeemed unpalatable for modern audiences.
  • The Bus Came Back: After 12 years, returning characters are Gladys, Spoonie Luv (he's the first to get a comeback), Bobby Fletcher, Niles Standish, Dick Birchum, Hadassah, Elmer Higgins, and Trufeld.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: In episode 5, Will Forte calls Red Lobster and trolls them into answering his calls asking for both lobsters and supports for a lobster conservation movement.
  • Rearrange the Song: This season the theme song is sung by a children's choir, same as the first theme ("Come one, come all, 'cause we're having a ball / We're just making some calls to strangers..."), but with a few lines changed (one line notably says "We're back on the cell, and the world's gone to hell").
  • Retool: The revival does away with the "Yankerville" setting and transitions, and incorporates video footage of the celebrities performing the crank call along with the puppet visuals.
  • That's What She Said: Gladys tries to get this patented, stating that she is that person, and came up with it. Though, the representative of the US Patent Office is unfamiliar with the phrase. That and, like the representative states, it's more suitable for a trademark anyway.
  • You're Not My Father: Wesley Kimmel in episode 5 calls a DNA testing company claiming he doesn't want to be with his father anymore complaining he ruins their bathroom too many times and asks the DNA professor, "Do you wanna be my dad?"


Video Example(s):


We Get to Drink

In this classic "Crank Yankers" call (sourced from a recording originally made by the Touch Tone Terrorists, a.k.a Pete Dzoghi), a woman calls up what she thinks is the United Parcel Service (UPS), not realizing that she's actually reached the Yankerville Parcel Service (YPS), where she's certainly not likely to get any actual service. She speaks with a man named Blade who is drunk on the job, his excuse being that it's Saturday. When she asks for a supervisor, she gets Junkyard Willie, who informs her "We get to drink booze over here if we wanna. It's Saturday."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / DrinkingOnDuty

Media sources: