Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Screwing Around on the Phone

It has been a while since I’ve been on either end of a prank phone call. Caller ID changed everything. Not that I was into doing that sort of thing in my adult life, but it all seems like something from the distant past.

I was reminded of the masters of the prank call recently while watching the Simpsons. Bart and Lisa are often seen pranking Moe the bartender, but few realize that their pranks are deeply rooted in New Jersey prank call history.

In the mid-1970s, two young men, John Elmo and Jim Davidson, began calling a bar named the Tube Bar which was located in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Tube Bar was owned by Louis "Red" Deutsch, and most of the time, Deutsch was the person who answered the calls. During each call, the callers would ask Deutsch to call out fictitious names, which, when said aloud, sounded like something else entirely (for example, "Al Coholic" = alcoholic, or "Cole Kutz" = cold cuts). Most of the time, Deutsch would call out the names, unaware that he was being subjected to a prank. Sometimes, however, Deutsch would catch on to the prank, and when he did, he responded with extreme hostility, shouting at the caller with profanity, obscene sexual references, usually involving the caller's mother, and threats of physical harm.

My personal favorite is one that the Simpsons did. They called Moe asking for Amanda Huginkiss. Moe shouts out to the people drinking in his establishment, "I need A Man ta Hug and Kiss," and then he realizes what he was really saying after announcing it twice. He had been pranked...again. Too funny! By the way, the Red recordings are still available.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn caller ID took away all of the fun. Kids today don't dare do it for fear of being charged with telephonic harrasment. Not a good thing to happen to you here in Dried Salmon County.

6:07 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

Far more sophisticated than the "Is your refrigerator running..." of my youth.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

or Prince Albert in a can. Now you get people asking you to page some guy called "Michael Hunt"...."Mike for short".

6:36 AM  
Anonymous walter richards said...

We had an interesting phone prank with one of my cousins. For some reason, even though both houses were on modern phone lines and a mile apart, both parties had to hang up for a disconnect.

So often, my cousin would call for some fabricated reason ... then not hang up. Thus keeping our phone "off the hook", unbeknowst to us. Or my brother or I would do the same to him.

It took a couple years for our parents to find out why they were missing calls. It would be an understatement to say they weren't happy with us.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Guy - if you happen to want to make a crank call these days, here we just press *67 before dialing the phone number - shows up on Caller I.D. as private number. Maybe you have the equivalent there?
Relive your youth!

11:12 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Call the butcher shop, "Do you have pigs feet?" "Yes", "How do you get your shoes on?"

Beth, you just want me to get in trouble so I'll write about it...from jail...

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Got back from lunch one time when I was working in an office and had a message that Myra Manes had called and wanted me to return her call. Called the number...and you guessed it. It was a funeral home. Revenge is sweet though and I returned the favor with a fake message from Anita Hickey...and yep...the local escort service.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Hilarious picture, first of all.

I was never much into making calls. But, I love to fuck with people who dial my number by accident. It's practically the only time I'll interrupt the answering machine and take a call.

5:35 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moosehead, when will people learn not to mess with you.

Syd, send me your number. I'd enjoy some of that action.

7:07 PM  

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