Synopsis by Hal Erickson
"Warning: The phone calls you are about to hear are REAL. The names have NOT been changed. SCREW THE INNOCENT." With such an opening disclaimer as this, is it any surprise that the Comedy Central sitcom Crank Yankers was created by Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, the same two naughty boys whose puerility had previously been given a workout on The Man Show? Here's how it worked: Kimmel, Carolla, and several other talented improv comedians -- among them Jim Florentine, Tracy Morgan and Sarah Silverman -- would place crank calls to unsuspecting civilians, who worked at businesses ranging from a pet store to a private detective agency. The regulars were careful to phone only those states where they could not be prosecuted for harassment (namely New York and Nevada, though other states may have been sneaked in from time to time). Once these calls were preserved on tape, they were then reenacted by a cast of motley-looking foam puppets, purportedly the residents of a backwater community called Yankerville. Lip-synching to the prerecorded prankishness were such recurring characters as grumpy 62-year-old war veteran Dirk Birchum, shock-rock deejay The Nudge, deaf-as-a-post nonagenarian Elmer Higgins, burp-a-dacious Bobby Fletcher, dimwitted teenaged janitor Special Ed, Jewish-American "princess" Hadassah Guberman, obnoxious politician Tony DeLoge, and laid-back African American guy Spoonie Luv. Some of the character voices were new to the series, while others were old standards, notably Jimmy Kimmel's Man Show alter ego Karl Malone and Bob Einstein's "Super Dave" persona. In each episode, a number of guest stars joined in on the fun, managing to make fools of the poor souls at the other end of the line -- and even bigger fools of themselves, which in a way made the show more endearing than annoying. The weekly, half-hour Crank Yankers was first telecast by Comedy Central on June 2, 2002.