In order to know what’s different about Crank Yankers, you need to take a look back at the original. In 2002 Comedy Central picked up a strange and funny show filled with puppets and comedy stars. The premise was simple; they would make prank phone calls as characters they’d invented. There were, of course, some complications. In most places, it’s illegal to record a conversation without the consent of the other person. As a result of those laws, the cast had to travel to Las Vegas where one-party consent to record is legal. Because of the unusual complication, the cast had to record when they were able to travel which made the show somewhat sporadic.
The Simpson Effect
Anyone who grew up watching the Simpsons is probably familiar with Bart’s constant harassment of Moe and the many prank calls he made to Moe’s Tavern. Bart was likely a big part of the inspiration for Crank Yankers. Kids being rude on wall mounted telephones or in phone booths was a staple of comedy in the ’90s and early 2000s. However, as cell phone technology advanced the image of someone sitting on a landline phone, slowly phased out of pop culture. As strange as it may seem to mature generations, there are plenty of people now, adult people, who have never used a phone booth at all. You’d be hard-pressed even to find one outside a museum. The New Crank Yankers will not be using the ubiquitous landline phones. Instead, they have changed with the times and will no doubt be using cell phones instead. People are less likely to answer a call from a number they don’t know, but that won’t leave the Crank Yankers totally high and dry. It just means they’ll have to work harder for their jokes. Perhaps answering machine gags will be part of the new norm for prank calling.
Houston, we have a problem. Most people these days have phones that show the caller ID. However, for every advance, there is an equal and opposite advance. From burner phones registered to fake name to blocked numbers, the Crank Yankers will either find ways to adapt and overcome or getting caught will become a big part of the show. Beyond that, there’s voice changing software that will help keep them anonymous. Of course, you can always be sneaky about things instead. Many of us have handed our phones to a stranger in need. Now that there are no phone booths, asking someone you see if you might make a quick call for a taxi when you break your phone or asking if you can call and see where your ride is at in transit are both very commonly given reasons. Sure, not everyone will do it. After all, strangers could steal your phone. Still, there are plenty of kindhearted souls out there who will let you use a few of their unlimited minutes if you’re in a bind.
Crank Yankers made its fame by being incredibly offensive. Let’s be honest, any show with Dane Cook and Sarah Silverman on the cast wasn’t planning to get famous for its manners. Regardless, things do evolve and change. One character in particular that no one seemed to worry about too much by the name of Special Ed poked fun at the crank call victims as well as people with mental deficiencies. In the early 2000s, some people found this problematic, but for the most part, it went largely uncontested. In the 2010s (nearly the 2020s now) folks are all ‘woke’ and making fun of people in that way doesn’t fly under the radar anymore. Picking on anyone in a way that might be considered a hate crime isn’t going to get the show anywhere. In short, Special Ed is no more.
Do What You Must, Change With The Times
Jimmy Kimmel mentioned in a recent interview with Vulture that while caller ID and texting has undoubtedly hurt the prank callability of many people, new mediums are emerging as well. Players of online multiplayer games like Call of Duty now essentially spend hours each day on phone calls. They just don’t have to dial anyone. Will the Crank Yankers be pranking gamers in the new season? We don’t know, but that would be outstanding! Some things will never change. While it’s strictly prohibited to prank 911 or similar services, there are still plenty of places that are required to answer the phone. Businesses like restaurants and anywhere else someone might need to make an appointment will always answer calls. That means a blocked number is no impairment for lots of places. We can see these puppets making a whole lot of spa owners, hair salons, and hotel staff lose their minds.
What Really Matters
That’s the crux of it. Confusing people and getting them to say stupid things is all well and fine. However, to truly prank someone, you need to make them get angry with you. The more redfaced they get, the better a prankster has done their job. If you can hear the purple cheeks and throbbing forehead veins over the line, you’ve managed to pull off a next-level prank call worthy of Bart Simpson or well… the Crank Yankers. With the changes in the times, there’s also a significant risk that never existed before. Yes, the Crank Yankers might get in trouble, and they’ll almost certainly hear their share of outrage and expletives. That’s not the problem. Crank Yankers was a popular show, and a whole lot of people are excited that it’s coming back. Beyond that, there are entire YouTube channels dedicated to or including cranking people over the phone like Ownage Pranks. The more savvy people get, the tougher it will be to pull off a decent prank call. We predict that sometime soon, a fan will end up pranking them right back when they make the wrong call.
We enjoyed the original Crank Yankers tremendously. A healthy dose of goofy and rude comedy suits us on occasion. Bringing this classic to a whole new generation of viewers is a spectacular idea. This may be one of the strangest reboots to date, and we say that after Dora the Explorer hit puberty and Ryan Reynolds played Pikachu. Whatever has changed, and however they pull it off, we’ll be looking forward to a new season of Crank Yankers. Who or what do you want to see them crank the most? Let us know in the comment section.
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