Crank Yankers (2002–2021)

TVSeries


Crank Yankers (TV Series 2002–2021)

A show with real 'crank' phone calls to real victims. Puppets are added as the 'actors' to give visual support to what is happening in the phone calls.
USA
IMDb   6.1 /10
TheMovieDb    6.5 /10
RottenTomatoes
TV.com
FilmAffinity  
Creators
Creator Adam Carolla
Creator Jimmy Kimmel
Creator Daniel Kellison
Information
Release Date2002-06-01
Runtime30min
GenreAnimation, Comedy
Content RatingTV-MA (TV-MA)
AwardsNominated for 1 Primetime Emmy1 nomination total
CompanyComedy Central, Jackhole Industries
CountryUSA
LanguageEnglish
Puppeteeras Puppeteer…
Puppeteeras Puppeteer
Puppeteeras Puppeteer
Puppeteeras Puppeteer
Announceras Announcer
Rachel Herrick
Rachel Herrick
Puppeteeras Puppeteer
Elmeras Elmer…
Jim Florentine
Jim Florentine
Special Edas Special Ed…
Landanlius 'The Truth' Truefeldas Landanlius 'The Truth' Truefeld…
Chip Douglasas Chip Douglas
Cammieas Cammie…
Benjamin Schrader
Benjamin Schrader
Puppeteeras Puppeteer
Tony DeLogeas Tony DeLoge…
Katie Kimmel
Katie Kimmel
Katieas Katie…
Kevin Kimmel
Kevin Kimmel
Kevinas Kevin…
Birchumas Birchum…
Gladys Murphyas Gladys Murphy…
Niles Standishas Niles Standish…

Crank Yankers

Crank Yankers is an American television show produced by Adam Carolla, Jimmy Kimmel, and Daniel Kellison that features actual crank calls made by show regulars and celebrity guests and re-enacted onscreen by puppets for a visual aid to show the viewer what is happening in the call. The show premiered in 2002 on Comedy Central and returned to MTV2 on February 9, 2007, running again until March 30, 2007. The show screened in Australia on SBS Television and The Comedy Channel between 2003 and 2008.

On February 11, 2019, Jimmy Kimmel announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that the show would be revived on Comedy Central for a fifth 20-episode season and mark the first project on Kimmel's new Kimmelot production imprint. The new season will include pranks on social media and other platforms. Kimmel's brother Jonathan Kimmel will serve as showrunner and executive producer. Season 5 premiered on September 25, 2019.

On March 5, 2020, Comedy Central announced Crank Yankers had been renewed for a 20-episode sixth season.


Behind the scenes

The performers are given a basic outline of a premise by the writers, and call telephone numbers from a list of selected targets (known as "marks"). Using the basic premises, the performers improvise most of their lines, playing off of the responses of their marks, with the intention to keep them on the phone as long as possible.

With the exception of a few outside sources (including previous material from Jim Florentine and the Touch-Tone Terrorists), all the calls are made from Nevada. The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 makes it illegal in most states to record telephone calls without both parties' consent. Under Nevada law, only one of the parties has to give consent (i.e., the caller), so prank calls can be recorded without the consent of the prank victims. One result of this was the series' schedule of creating and airing new episodes was fairly sporadic due to most of the celebrities living in Los Angeles, having Los Angeles-based jobs, and so were only periodically able to go to Las Vegas to make calls. Carolla, for example, took his radio program to Las Vegas once or twice a year, and while there would record new calls for the program.

The puppet designs were drawn by artist Todd James before being constructed based on the various marks' voices, and, along with a series of stock characters (such as "Niles Standish", "Bobby Fletcher" and "Special Ed") based on the performers' character voices, the calls are re-enacted for the skits.

The main character puppets for the first season were constructed by Bob Flanagan's company Den Design with additional puppets built by BJ Guyer, Carol Binion, Rick Lyon, Ron Binion, Jim Kroupa and Artie Esposito. An in-house puppet shop was set up for the following seasons to accommodate the fast-paced schedule of the show and the sheer volume of puppet characters required for each episode.

The puppets are puppeteered by Ron Binion, Rick Lyon, BJ Guyer, Victor Yerrid, Paul McGinnis, Alice Dinnean-Vernon and Artie Esposito.

Originally, the show was titled Prank Puppets; it was renamed after Comedy Central lawyers deemed that it implied malice.


Regular characters

  • Karl Malone (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel): Kimmel's impression of then-NBA star Karl Malone. He regularly refers to himself in the third-person. "Don't hang up on Karl Malone."
  • Gladys Murphy (voiced by Wanda Sykes): A boisterous black woman who makes embarrassing announcements, generally of a scatological or sexual nature. Her many children do things like gluing her buttocks to the toilet and stealing money from a malfunctioning bank machine.
  • Niles Standish (voiced by Tony Barbieri): The British Earl of Yankerville, a rich and eccentric middle-aged pervert with homosexual tendencies. He frequently calls various services and asks for their price, then orders them to "double it" (Once even confusing someone by telling them to "cut it in half, and double it!"). He has an assistant named Cavendish.
  • Giles Standish (voiced by Tony Barbieri): Niles' deformed twin brother.
  • Special Ed (voiced by Jim Florentine): Bobby Fletcher's mentally challenged younger cousin who constantly repeats himself, makes random comments and shouts his catchphrase "Yay!" until the other caller gets frustrated. He makes a cameo in one of Bobby's prank calls, "Let Me Put My Brother on the Phone". In two prank calls of his own (one to a movie theater and one to a video store), Ed reveals that his favorite film is Air Bud. In the video-store call, he works in several references to The Shining. Ed is not present in the 2019 revival due to the character being deemed too offensive for modern audiences (he also was pulled for his resembelance to SuperMarioLogan character Jeffy).
  • Dick Birchum (voiced by Adam Carolla): A psychotic Vietnam War veteran whose hobbies include carpentry, Shotokan karate, spying on women in their beds or bathrooms by drilling holes or a hidden camera, and gun ownership. He has a 600-pound wife, a large 8-year-old son, and conjoined twin daughters. He lost part of his right leg in the war and 3 right-hand fingers in a carpentry accident. He frequently refers to his time in Vietnam and "smoking hash out of a human skull".
  • Jimmy (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel): A Kimmel-based grown man who lives with his mother. He also has two young children who swear and play juvenile pranks.
  • Bobby Fletcher (voiced by Jim Florentine): Ed's stoner underachieving older cousin. He is known to belch uncontrollably into the phone, which he uses to his advantage in order to annoy the victims of his prank calls.
  • Elmer Higgins (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel): A crabby, elderly man (based on Kimmel's grandfather). He makes complaint calls and frequently goes off on unrelated, long-winded tangents about his younger days and various irrelevant subjects. He sometimes mentions his brother Charlie, as well as his gay grandson, Terrence Catheter.
  • Helen Higgins (voiced by Susie Essman): Elmer's beautiful wife of over 60 years, she is an elderly woman who likes to proposition young men. Her son gave her a pet parrot who is well-versed in profanity. In a late-in-the-series sketch about Elmer wanting driving lessons, he mentions that she has died.
  • Landalious "The Truth" Truefeld (voiced by David Alan Grier): A former football player who likes to rap.
  • Spoonie Luv (voiced by Tracy Morgan): A smooth-talking African American hip hop-type character who makes lewd and suggestive comments. He often refers to himself as "Spoonie Luv from Up Above". In one particularly noteworthy prank call, he attempts to sell a video store tapes of himself masturbating.
  • Hadassah Guberman (voiced by Sarah Silverman): A Jewish female college student who works various part-time jobs, including conducting surveys for O magazine. She frequently asks intrusive questions and makes veiled passive-aggressive insults. Her sexuality and sanity seem highly questionable.
  • Terrence Catheter (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel): Elmer Higgins' grandson is an effeminate redhead who acts as spokesperson for various celebrities, such as Tom Cruise, Bill Cosby, Jared Fogle, J.K. Rowling, Mr. T and the Olsen twins. He calls various places of business to book appearances and asks them to comply with the celebrities' ridiculous demands.
  • Tony Deloge (voiced by Bob Einstein): A loud-mouthed, fast-paced politician who calls random people to pander for votes as "district selectman". He occasionally tries to use his political power to get things for free.
  • Cammie Smith (voiced by Lisa Arch): A nymphomaniac, she is a somewhat conceited, condescending 23-year-old exotic dancer.
  • Boomer and the Nudge (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel and Patton Oswalt): Two obnoxious morning-radio disc jockeys who call people to make "on-air dares".
  • Junkyard Willie (voiced by the Touch-Tone Terrorists): An obstructionist in the form of a gravelly-voiced black man who is actually an import from the Touch-Tone Terrorists where he is a regular character. He appears in two sketches as a supervisor at YPS ("Yankerville Package Service").
  • Jim Bob the Handicapped Hillbilly (voiced by the Touch-Tone Terrorists): A mentally challenged hillbilly who works with Junkyard Willie at YPS.
  • Sav Macauley (voiced by Dane Cook): The overly enthusiastic host of a phone game show, "The Phone Zone", where he calls people and asks ridiculous random trivia questions for cash prizes and interjects his own sound effects.
  • OCD Ken (voiced by Kevin Nealon): An accountant with obsessive-compulsive disorder who prefers cleanliness and even numbers. He often requests people to press the pound key as part of his disorder.
  • Danny (voiced by David Alan Grier): A man who repeatedly gets nervous or disgusted causing him to vomit over the phone. The vomit is depicted as an Exorcist-like liquid shooting out of the puppet's throat.
  • Chip Douglas (voiced by Fred Armisen): A Mexican immigrant who is perpetually building a house with minimal supplies and poor command of the English language. He makes two prank calls to newspaper offices, one to attempt to sell cartoons and the other (a prank call in Spanish) to inform a Spanish-language newspaper that he has not received that day's edition.
  • Katie (voiced by Katie Kimmel): Kimmel's then-12-year-old daughter made occasional appearances from 2003, initially with a few short lines but later making entire crank calls herself (notably pretending to be a drunken 9-year-old trying to order alcohol by phone).
  • Kevin (voiced by Kevin Kimmel): Kimmel's then-10-year-old son made occasional appearances from 2003, including as Elmer Higgins' great-grandson.
  • Foreign Guy (voiced by Dane Cook): A nameless immigrant who calls various places looking for assistance or to purchase something.
  • Gene Winterbuck (voiced by Dane Cook): A paraplegic young man, who calls libraries requesting books with titles referring to disabilities in an offensive manner, such as "Johnny NoodleLegs".
  • Lou Vilman (voiced by Kevin Nealon): An easily impressed guy who responds "Wow!" to everything.
  • Dick Rogers (voiced by Seth MacFarlane): He will often call to complain about issues that would make someone from the 1940s uncomfortable, such as being hit on by men at a gay bar or getting a haircut from a female hairdresser. He also calls the YMCA for help with his alcohol problem.
  • The Concierge (voiced by Tony Barbieri): A hotel concierge who calls guests informing them of issues with their room or the building and offering them little compensation, or otherwise inconveniencing their stay.

Spinoff

In 2011, there was a pilot for a traditionally-animated spinoff called Birchum featuring Dick Birchum as the main character. He was redesigned to look younger and had a mustache. The pilot was made for FOX, but was not picked up as a series.


Performers

The voices of the characters are provided by:

Dave Attell
Lisa Arch
Fred Armisen
Tony Barbieri
Nick Cannon
Drew Carey
Adam Carolla
Chamillionaire
Dave Chappelle
Stephen Colbert
Dane Cook
David Cross
Ryan Dunn
Bob Einstein
Eminem
Susie Essman
Jim Florentine
Will Forte
Josh Gardner
Jeff Garlin
Nikki Glaser
Jeff Goldblum
Bobcat Goldthwait
Seth Green
Good Charlotte
Gilbert Gottfried
Kathy Griffin
David Alan Grier
Tiffany Haddish
Mitch Hedberg
Abbi Jacobson
Punkie Johnson
Paul Raff
DJ D-Wrek
Jamie Kennedy
Tom Kenny
Jimmy Kimmel
Lil' Jon
Jonathan Kimmel
David Koechner
Nick Kroll
Denis Leary
Natasha Leggero
Ludacris
Seth MacFarlane
Biz Markie
Demetri Martin
Andy Milonakis
Tracy Morgan
Bobby Moynihan
Kevin Nealon
Bob Odenkirk
Super Dave Osborne
Jack Osbourne
Sharon Osbourne
Patton Oswalt
Chelsea Peretti
Dr. Drew Pinsky
Aubrey Plaza
Brian Posehn
Andy Richter
Rick Rosner
Jeff Ross
Iliza Shlesinger
Robert Schimmel
Jason Schwartzman
Sarah Silverman
Robert Smigel
Wanda Sykes
Snoop Dogg
Steve-O
Nicole Sullivan
Tom Stern
Tenacious D (Jack Black and Kyle Gass)
Kenan Thompson
Touch-Tone Terrorists
Billy West
Wu-Tang Clan
Tim and Eric (Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim)

Chief artists working for the show include:

Xavier Corby
Chris Davis
Todd Hulin
Shane Klein
David Kolodny-Nagy
Dutch Merrick
Kristie Moore
Brook Shafer
Jason Tyne
Mark Walbaum

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
110June 2, 2002August 4, 2002
230March 4, 2003April 13, 2004
322July 20, 2004March 30, 2005
48February 9, 2007March 30, 2007
520September 25, 2019June 3, 2020

Season 1 (2002)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleOriginal air date
11"Wu-Tang Clan"June 2, 2002
22"Denis Leary & Sarah Silverman"June 9, 2002
33"Jimmy Kimmel & Wanda Sykes"June 16, 2002
44"Tracy Morgan & Wanda Sykes"June 23, 2002
55"David Alan Grier & Dave Attell"June 30, 2002
66"Susie Essman & Jim Florentine"July 7, 2002
77"Sarah Silverman & Tracy Morgan"July 14, 2002
88"Kevin Nealon & Super Dave Osborne"July 21, 2002
99"Jimmy Kimmel & Adam Carolla"July 28, 2002
1010"Dane Cook & Sarah Silverman"August 4, 2002

Season 2 (2003–04)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleOriginal air date
111"Jimmy Kimmel & Sarah Silverman"March 4, 2003
122"Wanda Sykes & Robert Schimmel"March 11, 2003
133"Snoop Dogg & Kevin Nealon"March 18, 2003
144"Jeff Garlin & Gilbert Gottfried"March 25, 2003
155"Fred Armisen & Kevin Nealon"April 1, 2003
166"Wanda Sykes & Bobcat Goldthwait"April 8, 2003
177"Adam Carolla & Jim Florentine"April 15, 2003
188"Adam Carolla & Dr. Drew Pinsky"April 22, 2003
199"Jimmy Kimmel & David Alan Grier"April 29, 2003
2010"Fred Armisen & Sarah Silverman"May 6, 2003
2111"Jimmy Kimmel & Fred Armisen"September 16, 2003
2212"Wanda Sykes & Kevin Nealon"September 23, 2003
2313"Adam Carolla & Kevin Kimmel"September 30, 2003
2414"Jimmy Kimmel & Gilbert Gottfried"October 7, 2003
2515"David Alan Grier & Super Dave Osborne"October 14, 2003
2616"Robert Smigel & Wanda Sykes"October 21, 2003
2717"David Alan Grier & Jeff Garlin"October 28, 2003
2818"Jimmy Kimmel & Adam Carolla"November 4, 2003
2919"Bob Odenkirk & Fred Armisen"November 11, 2003
3020"Jim Florentine & Kathy Griffin"November 18, 2003
3121"Sarah Silverman & David Alan Grier"February 10, 2004
3222"Kevin Nealon & Wanda Sykes"February 17, 2004
3323"Jamie Kennedy & David Alan Grier"February 24, 2004
3424"Wanda Sykes & Kevin Nealon"March 2, 2004
3525"Adam Carolla & David Alan Grier"March 9, 2004
3626"Sarah Silverman & Jeff Goldblum"March 16, 2004
3727"Seth Green & Jamie Kennedy"March 23, 2004
3828"Wanda Sykes & Adam Carolla"March 30, 2004
3929"Kevin Nealon & Sarah Silverman"April 6, 2004
4030"Jimmy Kimmel & Fred Armisen"April 13, 2004

Season 3 (2004–05)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleOriginal air date
411"Ludacris & Drew Carey"July 20, 2004
422"Tracy Morgan & Adam Carolla"July 27, 2004
433"Andy Richter & Sarah Silverman"August 3, 2004
444"Jimmy Kimmel & Adam Carolla"August 10, 2004
455"Jimmy Kimmel & Kevin Nealon"August 17, 2004
466"Wanda Sykes & Kevin Nealon"August 24, 2004
477"Bob Odenkirk & Adam Carolla"August 31, 2004
488"Ludacris & Kevin Nealon"September 7, 2004
499"Eminem & Tracy Morgan"September 14, 2004
5010"Jack & Sharon Osbourne"September 21, 2004
5111"Holiday Special"December 21, 2004
5212"Drew Carey & Jeff Goldblum"January 12, 2005
5313"Wanda Sykes & Sarah Silverman"January 19, 2005
5414"Tracy Morgan & Jimmy Kimmel"February 2, 2005
5515"Jason Schwartzman & David Alan Grier"February 9, 2005
5616"Adam Carolla & David Alan Grier"February 16, 2005
5717"Tracy Morgan & Jimmy Kimmel"February 23, 2005
5818"Wanda Sykes & Kevin Nealon"March 2, 2005
5919"Bob Odenkirk & Tracy Morgan"March 9, 2005
6020"Dane Cook & Kevin Nealon"March 16, 2005
6121"Best-of Special 1"March 23, 2005
6222"Best-of Special 2"March 30, 2005

Season 4 (2007)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleOriginal air date
631"Lil Jon & Sarah Silverman"February 9, 2007
642"Jimmy Kimmel & Steve-O"February 16, 2007
653"Dane Cook & Chamillionaire"February 23, 2007
664"Good Charlotte & Lil Jon"March 2, 2007
675"Dave Chappelle & Seth Green"March 9, 2007
686"Andy Milonakis & Ryan Dunn"March 16, 2007
697"Adam Carolla & Dane Cook"March 23, 2007
708"Jimmy Kimmel & Nick Cannon"March 30, 2007

Season 5 (2019–20)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
711"Tracy Morgan, Adam Carolla & Aubrey Plaza"September 25, 20190.482
722"Jimmy Kimmel, Kathy Griffin & Jeff Ross"October 2, 20190.366
733"Sarah Silverman, Abbi Jacobson & Will Forte"October 9, 20190.380
744"Jimmy Kimmel, Tracy Morgan & David Alan Grier"October 16, 20190.409
755"Sarah Silverman, Tiffany Haddish & Kevin Nealon"October 30, 20190.364
766"David Alan Grier, Will Forte & Chelsea Peretti"November 6, 20190.397
777"Tiffany Haddish, Roy Wood Jr. & Thomas Lennon"November 13, 20190.358
788"Wanda Sykes, Nick Kroll & Tracy Morgan"November 27, 20190.305
799"Adam Carolla, David Koechner & Natasha Leggero"December 4, 20190.368
8010"Bobby Brown, Wanda Sykes & Kathy Griffin"December 11, 20190.352
8111"Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman & Nikki Glaser"April 1, 20200.269
8212"Aubrey Plaza, Ron Funches & Derek Waters"April 8, 20200.327
8313"Tracy Morgan, Kevin Nealon & Adam Carolla"April 15, 20200.321
8414"Chelsea Peretti, Derek Waters & Aubrey Plaza"April 22, 20200.272
8515"Jeff Ross, Tracy Morgan & Roy Wood Jr."April 29, 20200.173
8616"Wanda Sykes, David Alan Grier & Abbi Jacobson"May 6, 20200.220
8717"Kevin Nealon, Jimmy Kimmel & Paul Scheer"May 13, 20200.187
8818"Brian Posehn, Nick Kroll & David Alan Grier"May 20, 20200.199
8919"Adam Carolla, Iliza Shlesinger & Demetri Martin"May 27, 20200.236
9020"Nikki Glaser, Jimmy Kimmel & Tracy Morgan"June 3, 20200.215

DVD releases

DVD NameRelease DateEp #Additional Information
Season 1 - UncensoredSeptember 28, 200410"Dial 'T' for Torment: Mini-Documentary, Two Unaired Calls.
Season 2, Volume 1 - UncensoredApril 26, 200515Unaired Calls.
Season 2, Volume 2 - UncensoredNovember 29, 2005154 exclusive audio calls from Fred Armisen, Eminem, Jim Florentine, and Jimmy Kimmel.
The Best of Crank Yankers - UncensoredDecember 4, 2007N/AIncludes 58 favorite calls.

There are currently no plans for a DVD release for seasons 3 & 4, aka the MTV2 season of Crank Yankers.


CD releases

  • The Best Uncensored Crank Calls, Volume 1 (2002)
  • The Best Uncensored Crank Calls, Volume 2 (2002)
  • The Best Uncensored Crank Calls, Volume 3 (2003)