For those who have managed to skate through the last couple of years and remain blissfully unaware of Crank Yankers, or Comedy Central, or even the concept of cable television, the following explanation is necessary – everyone else can skip right to the next paragraph. This show was built around the concept of an assortment of youngish comedians making prank calls to various more-or-less unsuspecting individuals, customer service centers or businesses… and then dramatizing the resulting audio with various puppets.

The results are definitely uncensored; think of the anatomically correct puppets as PG-13 rated Muppets. The definition of “best” is certainly rather flexible; over sixty calls are included in this collection. Fans of the original series will have their own favorites and feel miffed if those were not included in this collection, and yes, Special Ed’s “I’ve got mail” is included – probably as an example of a gag being beaten into the ground with a sledge hammer. Oprah Winfrey was skewered lightly, and the call from the deaf guy through an IT assistance operator to a phone-sex line was funnier than it sounds described; you picks your call and you takes your chances with this collection.

The calls themselves are a mixed bag; for every one that is laugh-out-loud comical there is one that is labored and embarrassing, or just plain cruel. I guess it says something for the average Americans’ savvy that recipients of some calls were quick-witted enough to play along with the gag. Others declined to have anything to do with whatever outrageous proposal was put to them and ended the call with varying degrees of courtesy – which says much for American telephone manners, although I would be interested to know how often the ‘crank yankers’ were hung up on outright.

The Best of Crank Yankers Uncensored is available here through Amazon.com and other commercial outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com

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