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Comedy Central's CRANK YANKERS!!

I am – Hercules!!

Whenever Adam Corolla and Jimmy Kimmel guest on the Howard Stern show (as they did to hilarious effect earlier this week), Herc is always left puzzled that the duo’s own show isn’t funnier than it is. Left entirely to their own improvisational devices, L.A. radio vets Corolla and Kimmel can generate some of the most pointed and irreverent comic commentary Herc’s ever heard, and “The Man Show” – for all its politically incorrect veneer – seems only to skim the surface of the pair’s low-maintenance subversiveness.

Is it too much to hope that the duo’s “Crank Yankers” – because it employs cuddly, brightly-colored marionettes – will be allowed to stray into the darker realms pioneered by Comedy Central’s “South Park” and “TV Funhouse”? You can bet we’ll be watching every episode, just in case.

Comedy Central premieres “Yankers” 10:30 p.m. Sunday (opposite HBO’s “The Wire” and ABC’s “The Hamptons”).

TV Guide says:

Debut: Series about the town of Yankerville, populated by deranged puppet inhabitants who re-create phoney phone calls.

Variety says:

Twisted doesn't even begin to describe "Crank Yankers," Comedy Central's perverse puppet show that breathes sick life into the lost art of prank phone calls. Taking divine inspiration from the Jerky Boys, a cult act that hit it big years ago, this way-out-there half-hour pushes the language envelope along with multiple taste barriers but does so in such a sweet fashion it will be hard to take any watchdog group seriously when they zero in on the content. And boy, will they ever. As if there is any legitimate comparison, "Yankers" one-ups Fox's "Greg the Bunny" in almost every category: The puppets are funnier, the bits are cruder, and the overall sense of cutesy reality is more genuine.

The ultimate in frat boy television, "Crank Yankers" works so well because it's completely fresh. There never has been a collection of skits so warped and so oddly produced as this, with caricatures enhanced and stereotypes highlighted.

The Hollywood Reporter says:

Imagine if "The Man Show" were a puppet show and you have a pretty good gauge of the level of humor that drives "Crank Yankers," which might be described as "Sesame Street" meets "Howard Stern." If those two sensibilities seem a bit at odds, it should lend some insight into just how painfully unfunny this show tends to be.

If anything can make "Man Show" seem erudite and scholarly by comparison, this perky perversion of puppetry is it. It's not merely that the show is wholly offensive. That's more or less expected. It could be excused if the comedy were something greater than the cheap and insipid attempt to humiliate the unsuspecting that it is.

The Los Angeles Times says:

It sounds funny enough. But looks are a different matter, and this is where "Crank Yankers" falters. The creatorschose puppets to provide the visuals to the often profane and stereotypical material.

Half the fun of listening to a prank call is envisioning the participants, and for each listener the mental picture is tailor-made to his or her funny bone. "Crank Yankers," however, bows to an age in which nothing is left to the imagination by having its Muppet-like creatures mouth the words. What's worse, by Episodes 2 and 3, there is full-frontal, anatomically correct puppet nudity.

On a closing note, does it strike anyone else as bizarre that “Greg the Bunny’s” inventive and appallingly attractive Sarah Silverman, a swell comedian who’s been kicking around showbiz forever, can only seem to find steady work on puppet shows? Because Herc would like to see what she can do when not surrounded by felt (if you know what I mean).

Appease me!!

I am – Hercules!!

Readers Talkback
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  • June 1, 2002, 10:54 p.m. CST

    You can hear some of the calls at

    by Basic Alias

    The best one was where SNL's Tracey Morgan tries to place a personals ad in the Village Voice. You gotta listen to it, it's a fucking riot.

  • June 1, 2002, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Sarah Silverman

    by Cap'n Chaos!

    Why is it Tina Fey gets to be an SNL anchor and Sarah Silverman is stuck talking to a make-believe bunny on a cancelled show? She's damn hot and much funnier than most female comics out there. (I thought her appearance at the Hugh Hefner Roast was pretty good, especially the "wax their assholes" gag.) I sure hope she's got a good role in the Mr. Show movie.

  • June 2, 2002, 12:17 a.m. CST

    This show has puppets.

    by Christopher3

    Yeah, I got nothing.

  • June 2, 2002, 12:18 a.m. CST

    P.S. What happened to "TV Funhouse"?

    by Christopher3

    THAT was a funny puppet show.

  • June 2, 2002, 1:23 a.m. CST

    Frat boy TV. . .

    by bewareoftext

    . . .is exactly why Comedy Central is complete shit these days. The only show even remotely watchable on CC is the Daily Show. Everything else is infantile garbage.

  • June 2, 2002, 4:50 a.m. CST

    huh huh huh! Them puppets is calling people!

    by Victor_Laszlo

    I'm sorry, but I find crank calls to be a terribly low form of comedy. Usually, there's no "joke" or "punch line" or "well thought-out wit"... It's supposed to be funny that the person on the other end is getting pissed off, and I fail to find the humor in someone getting angry because some asshole is bothering them. The only prank calls I thought were clever were the first of the Arnold Schwarzeneggar calls, in which some fellow sampled a bunch of relevant Arnie quotes from movies and then played them back (apparently on a keyboard or computer) for phone calls in which people would be terribly confused why this Austrian cop was asking them a few questions, like "Who is your daddy, and what does he do?" THAT was sort of witty, in a perverse way. Some guy calling up an innocent and just hassling them for a few minutes, only to hear them get angry or ask the caller to repeat what they said several times because they can't believe what they are hearing is NOT witty. It's juvenile. I stopped doing prank calls when I was about 10 years old. Why do some people never seem to progress past that stage? Between this, the Jackass movie, and other "fratboy" humor, I'm completely stumped as to why anyone would want to continue breeding when it seems like each generation becomes less intelligent and more obnoxious than the last one, and that's pretty serious coming from a a old-school punk rocker like myself. Didn't people get sick of this type of "comedy" when the Jerky Boys went to the well a few too many times? I mean, you can hop on any search engine and find a dozen amateur sites that present their own audio files of these same stunts. "Let's call the pizza place and ask for something really gross on a pizza!" Ha ha. How droll. "Let's call this guy with a funny name and tease him!" Oh, yes, like he didn't put up with that enough when he was in grade school? "Let's call some business and say stupid shit to whoever answers!" Come on! Do I call YOU at work and prevent you from making Big Macs? Adam and Jimmy have NEVER impressed me. They're both butt-ugly, they're both disgusting examples of why it amazes me that women put up with men at all, and they are about as funny as Carrot-Top is in his CALL ATT comercials. I mean, YES, they are several steps above Tom Green and anything MTV currently produces, but The Man Show is really a big ZERO. Why have a show about tits and beer when you can't SHOW the tits? They show more MALE skin on the Man Show than female skin! And the Man Show boy..? Let's make a 12-year-old say dirty things to women! Yeah! That's funny! "huh huh huh! That kid said "Boobs"! Huh huh huh!" Of course, I have traditionally disagreed with Herc on everything. He still heaps himself in the pile of people who like "Dark Angel" and "Buffy", so it's obvious that this sophomoric fratboy stuff is exactly the demographic he seems to squeeze into. Personally, I'll take more of The Daily Show, and Greg The Bunny, which are both a little silly at times, but filled with some witty dialogue, clever references, and jokes deeper than taking a shit in a grocery store or prank calling some Chinese restaurant and laughing at their accent. I really hate how incredibly stupid people have become over the past decade...

  • June 2, 2002, 3:41 p.m. CST


    by holidill

    I just love to say that name! CRANK YANKERS!!!

  • June 2, 2002, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Victor, I agree with you completely

    by Prof. Pop-Cult

    You've summed up most of my thoughts regarding this matter. Quite frankly, I think we Americans, particularly young men, have developed an appalling mean streak over the generations. I don't know why this is the case, and won't dare to go into theorizing for fear that I'll just run off onto another tangent. Even Beavis and Butthead, while mean-spirited, exhibited many levels of intelligence in its humor, mainly through its own self-awareness. As for Buffy, please don't think the audience belongs under the same category as this swill. The average faithful Buffy viewer is quite intelligent and passionate, and comprises of plenty of females. As for Comedy Central, the only new programming on it that's worth keeping up with is South Park. As a straight male, God, I LOVE watching cute girls on TV, but The Man Show is an embarassment. I want to see cute girls -- not a bunch of ugly ass, out of shape men pushing 40 lounging in chairs, talking all smug and smarmy. "Frat Boy TV" is right. Seems as if a lot of the humor on television now is geared toward the frat boy demographic, particularly those with repressed homosexual tendancies ("The Man Show" and its emphasis on male physiques and genitalia).

  • June 2, 2002, 8:48 p.m. CST

    Let me get this straight?

    by nitekatt

    The show feature re-created crank calls... Does that mean the writers call people,make crank calls,record them,and script the calls on the show them to protect themselfs rather than use acutal recordings,get releases and use the real thing. What killed the Jerky Boys is that after making a prank and then reveiling who they were,getting signed releases,etc to use the actual call recordings! Jamie Kennedy and Candid Camara (Can you believe how many time this show has been revived!!!!) Have had to throw away/destroy/unable to use 'stunts'/'panks' when the people involved refuse to sign release,even when payed!

  • June 2, 2002, 9:08 p.m. CST


    by SEGALL

    This is just another lame ass attempt to capture the brilliance of the Jerky Boys. It's just a ripoff, not to mention those dumbasses Corralla and Kimmel aren't even funny to begin with. I was talking to some dumbass the other day, and this jackass is all, "It's not a ripoff. It'll be funny." What, it's not a ripoff for the simple reason that they have these stupid puppets? I think studio and TV execs need to take a closer look at the difference between "funny" and just "crude." Comedy Central has gone down the tubes. It's all reruns of SNL, and the bad ones too. They need to rethink their programming.

  • June 2, 2002, 10:30 p.m. CST

    Comedy Central's been going down the tubes

    by Fatty McJones

    ever since they got rid of MST3K. They started depending on stupid movies to fill lots of time and stopped showing anything good. And Sarah Silverman is not that pretty, sorry.

  • June 2, 2002, 11 p.m. CST

    Fuck anyone that thinks Adam Carolla isn't funny

    by magic_ninja

    Bunch of little crybabies that don't like the Man Show. No wonder you losers don't get laid. Yep, upcoming fourth season of the Man Show too, all you haters can eat a dick and die.

  • June 2, 2002, 11:02 p.m. CST

    by ForgetfulLenny

    The best crank call I've ever heard was on the Clerks cartoon: Jay: "We need an ambulance at 1611 Uranus Ave." 911 Oper.: "And your name, sir?" Jay: "Uranus... I said it again, Randal." Randal: "Good one, Jay. Now hang up."

  • June 2, 2002, 11:16 p.m. CST

    Christopher3 I agree with you, this show has puppets.

    by mattw

    I ain't got nothing either.

  • June 3, 2002, 12:28 a.m. CST

    Actually, Magic Ninja, I do think Adam Carrola is funny, just no

    by St.Buggering

    Both of them have been quite hilarious elsewhere, and The Man show does score occasionally (I thought their tour of Snoop Dogg's house was pretty good). But watch Triumph the Insult Comic Dog go at the nerds in line for Episode II, and compare that with The Man Show's bit on the line for Episode I. The Man Show's version was just weak. It's just watered-down Maxim. I think both guys would be better served with something else.

  • June 3, 2002, 7:50 a.m. CST

    The show has promise

    by BillBrasky2620

    It all comes down to the individual comedians who do the calls. I thought Sarah Silverman was very funny as the bored woman applying for a nanny position ("Do you have a TV?") And the idea behind Stephen Colbert's prank was pretty genius. But Dave Chapelle's Wu Tang prank was surprisingly weak (although it had a good premise) and Jimmy Kimmel's old guy complaining about chicken beaks was too Jerky Boys-ish. Nevertheless, it's a good idea for a show and the puppets are cute. I'll be watching, if only to see the episode where Tenacious D are the musical guest.

  • June 3, 2002, 9:09 a.m. CST

    Evil Reader-

    by RenoNevada2000

    So it seems I'm not the only one who remembers "Night After Night With Allan Havey"!!! Shit, I was even an Audience of One! Well, off to take the Comedy Jitney for a stay at the Mobley Hotel!!!

  • June 3, 2002, 9:44 a.m. CST

    Victor, I agree and disagree

    by ItsOver

    Crank calls are nothing new. They weren't funny when Jerry Lewis was doing them. I don't think people are nessisarily dumber now-a-days but Hollywood does seem even more eager to cater to the lowest common denominator (although crass, low brow entertainment has been around forever)**** I thought the Man Show would be the worst thing I've ever seen on CC but Crank Yankers had to go and make a fool out of me. I suppose i'm supposed to be in awe at how "sick and twisted" it is. But it's not, it's bland, tame, and unimaginitive. I suppose I should be thrilled that these foul words are coming out of puppets! You know puppets like in kid's shows! Uhg. Somebody wake me when some wit comes through my coaxial.

  • June 3, 2002, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Boy, crank phone calls sure are funny

    by rev_skarekroe

    And with puppets you say? I am so there. I hope they do the one where you call someone and ask if they're refridgerator is running. Or the one where you call KFC and ask the lady how large her breasts are. Maybe they could do the one where you call someone up and put them on hold for a call from Washington, and then tell them he's been dead for two-hundred years. Oh, and they simply must do the one where you call the bowling alley and ask if the guy has ten pound balls. Man, that's rich. sk

  • June 3, 2002, 11:33 a.m. CST

    Not good enough to be "weak"

    by Lummox JR

    Before I go on about the show--St.Buggering, I never saw the Man Show bit you mentioned but I'm not sure anything can be compared to Triumph taking on the Episode II geeks and come out favorably. I saw that bit the other night and it was barnone the funniest Triumph routine I've ever seen (which is saying a lot). The geeks were self-deprecating enough to play along, and there was no dearth of material with which to mock them. *** On to Crank Yankers. It was, to put it bluntly, a worse waste of 15 minutes than staring at the TV blank; the only solace I got for it was catching the very end of the Man Show. I say 15 minutes because halfway through the call where the deaf guy called the phone sex line I turned it off. If something's going to be offensive it ought to be funny too, and these gags just didn't have it--not at all. Each call was drop dead boring, and I watched hoping they'd get better. The fake rapper calling the B&B owner: Lame. The loser nanny wannabe calling a couple during dinner: Lame. The call to "Robert Dick": Lame. (Heck, they could have even found someone with a funnier name if they'd tried. They really had to stretch to try to get a gag out of that, and they failed.) The call to the restaurant was just ridiculous--no manager is going to believe even one beak is in a bucket, let alone several, so all I could picture the whole time in spite of the puppets was this apologetic manager doing an employee-of-the-month job fielding this (pathetically) obvious (pathetic) prank call with absolute courtesy. The call to the phone sex line was the only one that had a moderately decent premise, but it was just so dull to follow that it wasn't worth leaving the TV on any longer. The questionable novelty of prank calls aside, the idea is to make it funny. I didn't laugh once--I really wanted to like it, but the show didn't want to earn it. Halfway through I gave up waiting for the funny, and turned off the TV; I got much better laughs out of the Bob and Tom radio skits I downloaded during the week. (So Mr. Obvious, you're saying a comedy show is supposed to be funny? Huh. I never made the connection.)

  • Gerry grins as he dials up a number that's written down on a piece of paper. A woman picks up the phone on the other end. Gerry (in his most sensitive voice): "Um, Hello. Could I please speak to Mr Frank Brown?" Woman: "Well... er... I'm sorry but no, you can't speak to him." Gerry: "But why not?" Woman: "...Frank was my husband. He passed away last week." Gerry: "What did you say?" Woman: "He's dead." Gerry: "I KNOW! HA HA HA!" (slams phone down)

  • June 3, 2002, 12:42 p.m. CST

    A Few Other Random Thoughts

    by Aquatarkusman

    (1) What about the show where Kevin Pollak, Allan Havey, and a few other comics played poker and told war stories? I can't even remember its name (2) Crank Yankers could play for 100 years and never come up with the brilliance of the Jerky Boys' seminal line, delivered by the Egyptian Magician: "I punch myself in the chest and make myself disappear" (3) Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Corolla are sucking valuable oxygen out of our atmosphere. Somebody do something about it.

  • June 3, 2002, 12:54 p.m. CST

    Comics Playing Poker

    by RenoNevada2000

    Damn, its on the tip of my tongue but I can't remeber what it was called... It was an hour special and I have it on tape somewheres in my apartment. I do recall one classy moment where they suspended play for a moment to remember their friend/comic comrade in arms Dennis Wolfberg, a brilliant comic probably known best around here as the guy who played Gushie on a couple of eprisodes of "Quantum Leap".

  • June 3, 2002, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Night after Night

    by jrh_15

    I thought I was the only one who remembers "Night after Night". Anyone remember Higgins Boys and Gruber, or Onion World? Wow, Onion World rocked....

  • June 3, 2002, 2:47 p.m. CST

    Crank Yankers "Premier"

    by biggdogg40509

    I like many others was awaiting last night's show. Only to be let down. My wife was pissed; "You made me miss Queer As Folk for this??". Sorry Hun. I swore it was gonna be a riot. Especially after hearing the 3 calls they were letting us get samples of, via the Net, & promos. But Nope. Couldn't do it. Oh don't get me wrong, they pulled out their puppet nudity card real quick, didn't wait to even see the Neilsen's. Oh well. I guess I can give them one more try, to redeem themselves. But I figured you use some of the good stuff to grab ahold of viewers. And I my friends.............Was Not Grabbed

  • Listen to the bunch of you! You say Crank Yankers isn't funny at all but you ALL love when Bart does the exact samet thing??!! I mean, c'mon, you think it's even more "Simpsons classic" when Moe gets supremely frustrated and threatens Bart! So why the double standard with this new show? You guys act so righteous saying, "this crude humor is SO beneath me" -- it makes me wonder. Explain this to me, please. Believe me, I'm the guy least likely to enjoy Crank Yankers, but it stuck me as searingly funny and subversive. I admit being an avowed Man Show-hater. I've always hated Adam & Jimmy, and never once wasted my time on the Man Show. So I was very cautious about Yankers.... But you realize how brilliant this stuff is when Chapelle the "fake rapper" calls up that woman at the Bible Belt Bed n' Breakfast. She quickly changes her welcoming tone to queasy discomfort when she realizes she's talking to a rough-edged Rap artist. WHY? Is she just using her "church lady" veneer as an excuse? Is she really uncomfortable with black people but can't admit it? This skit is incredibly resonant with racial tension.... but you'll miss it if you're not looking closely. If this is "lowbrow" humor then it's surely in the higher levels of intelligent lowbrow.... The premiere ep. had a bang start and I'm coming back for more. Lowbrow isn't so bad, is it??

  • June 3, 2002, 3:25 p.m. CST

    Hey Herc...this show has puppets.

    by Sod Off Baldric

    That means you can't like it. I mean, that is pretty much your rationale for missing Farscape week after week, right? Anyway, I missed the show last night, and I don't really care as it looked VERY stupid. Later.

  • June 3, 2002, 4:06 p.m. CST

    Which show were you watching, Bregalad?

    by Lummox JR

    The problem with your double standard analogy is it doesn't work at all. This show features real calls, and Bart's were of a simple "funny name" variety. Crank Yankers tried that name gag in one skit but it was already old when they got to it; it didn't play well at all. "Searingly funny and subversive" I don't get at all; were we even watching the same show? It wasn't searingly anything, good or bad; it was extremely boring. (I definitely picked up on the note of tension in the B&B skit, but let's face it, if you run a small place you don't want a rowdy crowd of a dozen guys staying there in two rooms--that'd be true of any band. The problem with so many of their skits, the reason they all fell flat, was that people's reactions were perfectly understandable and reasonable; there was a lot of "Uh huh" and very little "Why you little...!") It wasn't "subversive" either--it plowed no ground that other shows hadn't already covered. Laugh-In was subversive. South Park is subversive. Crank Yankers was just a whole lot of Dull; had it been genuinely funny, like some other shows can boast, it would have done a lot better.

  • June 3, 2002, 5:12 p.m. CST


    by Father Merrin

    I agree with whoever said crank phone calls to unsuspecting people with good intentions aren't funny. Who can laugh at a poor employee who is supposed to be nice to anyone the phone, no matter how crazy? I can't. Now when the prank call is to someone who DESERVES skewering, like the somewhat racist B&B owner, then maybe it's fun. I dunno. But on another note, I think Adam Corolla is one of the wittiest guys out there, which I think from occasionally listening to LOVE LINE. But when he tries to script himself, like on the MAN SHOW, it sucks. Hate the man show. For that reason, I think Crank Yankers will SUCK.

  • June 3, 2002, 5:39 p.m. CST

    Bart and Crank Yankers

    by ItsOver

    Its funny when Bart does it because there was a modicum of wit involved and it didn't last twenty-two minutes. Its also funny to see a sleazebag like Moe get so riled up (which is why the "Red" tapes the gag is based on are somewhat amusing) The victims on Crank Yankers seemed as bored as I was. **** Now will someone tell me how a bunch of puppets being crude is subversive?

  • June 3, 2002, 8:16 p.m. CST

    This is so 1993

    by Damer1

    The Jerky Boys already had this idea. It was popular for about a week back in the early nineties.

  • June 3, 2002, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Triumph the Insult Dog vs Stardorks

    by corvette63

    Check out the footage from Conan at Ifilm:,3699,2439321,00.html?cch=11 You guys were right. It's hilarious.

  • June 3, 2002, 9:24 p.m. CST

    Father Merrin is right

    by snorfle

    I think Carolla is one of the wittiest comedians out there when I listen to him on Loveline. Kimmell is pretty good on radio shows as well, and his talk show on ABC might turn out to be decent. But "The Man Show" is only occasionally funny, the scripted humor just does not work for these guys. They should just go out there without a script for half an hour, it'd be a hell of a lot better. The Muppet Jerky Boys doesn't sound very promising either.

  • June 4, 2002, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Two things...

    by pedant

    One: The f'ing Jerky Boys did not f'ing invent prank calls, okay? Two: The f'ing Jerky Boys aren't funny.

  • June 4, 2002, 12:40 p.m. CST

    If you didn't at least chuckle at parts of this show...

    by Tonya_Harding

    you are dead inside. Seriously, the scene with Colbert asking the phone sex operator to screech over the phone to make the receiver vibrate on his deaf friend's nutsack (or as he refers to it, "his coinpurse")... then *laughing*.. Colbert tells her his friend prefers Asian girls ("But.. I'm not Asian".. "Oh, it doesn't matter, I'll just tell him you are so we can get this over with!" *silence*) and asks for her to scream in Japanese.. so the bitch starts screaming in a jumbled jibberish .. okay so it's funnier on TV, assholes. - TH

  • June 4, 2002, 11:50 p.m. CST

    Allan Havey

    by Darth Brooks

    I miss Night After Night. I miss the Audience of One. I miss the Weather Guy with his David Lynch-like pronouncements of existentialism. Oh, and the Mighty Mighty Boss Tones as the house band. Lizz Winsted lifted so much from this show and stole it as "The Daily Show" - - but the original was better, funnier, and not as superficial. It was DEEP funny.

  • June 5, 2002, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Sarah Silverman got in trouble for her racist comment

    by Squashua

    Or something. I think she said something racist offhand that was taken out of context and she got shot to shit over it. And that's why a lot are afraid to bankroll her in TV/Film. No matter how much of a hot and sexy MOtT she is.

  • June 5, 2002, 3 p.m. CST

    Silverman Comment

    by Darth Brooks

    It was July 11th, 2001 - Sarah Silverman was on the Conan O'Brien show, discussing her recent call to jury duty. She wanted to be released from being in a trial, so she talked about the jury questionnaire with her friend. "My friend is like, 'Why don't you write something inappropriate on the form like 'I hate chinks'

  • June 5, 2002, 3:38 p.m. CST

    I even taped Rich Hall's Onion World

    by durhay

    Still have a few eps somewhere. Remember the Higgins Boys and Gruber doing their 20K Pyramid skit? Classic. And that one episode of Night After Night that was a 'rerun' of Allan's 'favorite show' from the early 60s that was on the Atomic Broadcasting Network. Brought to you by some cigarette brand that had "twice the amount of asbestos in its filter."

  • June 5, 2002, 6:41 p.m. CST

    nobody thought...

    by peter1a

    ...this would be actually funny, did they? the reason crank calls aren't funny is anybody can do them. if you can't fool a stranger on the phone, you must be lightly retarded. i like wit. look into the importance of being earnest when it comes around. petey