The Jerky Boys
are an influential American comedy duo
from Queens, New York
, whose routine consisted of prank telephone calls
and other related skits
. Formed in 1989, The Jerky Boys was made up of former childhood friends Johnny Brennan
, and Kamal
. After Kamal left the act in 2000, The Jerky Boys continued on as a solo
act featuring only Brennan, before going on hiatus after the 2001 release of their final album, The Jerky Tapes
. The project was resurrected in 2006 and remains active today.
The calls were made by ringing up unsuspecting recipients, or in response to classified advertisements placed in local New York-based newspapers. Each call was made in character, usually with over the top voices influenced by the duo's family members.
According to their current record label, Laugh.com, the act has sold over 8,000,000 CDs since their 1993 debut.
began making and recording prank telephone calls in the 1970s
, and teamed up with the younger Kamal
, in the late 1980s
in their Queens
neighborhood. The duo made a number of bootleg tapes
of their recorded phone calls that eventually found their way to New York
personality Howard Stern
, who played the duo's tracks on the air.
The pair gained notoriety from their exposure on the popular The Howard Stern Show, and released their first album, The Jerky Boys, in 1993. The album topped the Billboard charts and was eventually certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The duo released the double platinum, The Jerky Boys 2 in 1994, followed by The Jerky Boys 3 in 1996, The Jerky Boys 4 in 1997, Stop Staring at Me! in 1999, and The Jerky Tapes in 2001.
In 1995, the duo appeared in Touchstone Pictures' Jerky Boys: The Movie. The movie was filmed in 1993–94, and although it was almost universally panned by critics, the film has achieved cult status among The Jerky Boys' loyal fan base.
In 2000, tension between the duo developed, purportedly because of professional jealousy on the part of Kamal, According to the unconfirmed reports, Kamal felt that he was not recognized as much as Brennan. The ideas for Kamal's characters were also mostly from Brennan. Kamal Passed a note down to the manager, who passed it to Brennan. Kamal had decided to quit the group.
Kamal released a solo album, Once A Jerk, Always A Jerk, in 2000.
On March 20, 2007, Brennan, who is now the only constant member of the group, kept The Jerky Boys name and released a solo album, Sol's Rusty Trombone, a collection of mostly ring tones and skits. A new full-length prank call CD from the Jerky Boys is scheduled for release sometime in 2008.
- Big Ole Badass Bob The Cattle Rustler - an American Westerner/Texan who drives a semi-truck; has appeared on "Lawnmower Sale" and "Bad Ass Massage", both from The Jerky Boys 3 album, "Flower Lady #4" from The Jerky Tapes album, and is a featured character on Sol's Rusty Trombone (voiced by Johnny Brennan).
- Curly G., Cradle Rock - a throwback rap artist trying to catch a break; appeared on one track to date ("Bamm!" from The Jerky Boys 3 album) (voiced by Kamal Ahmed).
- Sammy Cox - older man with a pronounced lisp; appeared on one track to date ("Herman" from The Jerky Boys 4 album) (voiced by Brennan).
- Mike/Michael Derucki - an out-of-work painter (voiced by Brennan).
- Harry Getzov - A name from the "Flower Lady" and "Moonlight Matinee" tracks from The Jerky Tapes album. The character is perennially away from the telephone, and unable to be reached by the unsuspecting caller who is pranked by either Jack Tors (Brennan), Tarbash (Kamal), or Big Ole Badass Bob The Cattle Rustler (Brennan). In the Jerky Boys CDs, Getzov is credited as the Jerky Boys manager.
- Jake - handles in-coming calls for Mr. Silverman, the phony sports agent ("Big Hock" track from the Stop Staring at Me! album) (voiced by Brennan).
- Jocko Johnson - voice and behavior similar to Frank Rizzo; wanted his wife's house knocked down while she was out of town ("The Home Wrecker" track from The Jerky Boys album) (voiced by Kamal).
- Frank Kissel - an aged World War II veteran and ex-singer who is confined to a wheelchair. The character normally refers to himself only as Kissel. He sometimes complains about or is heard arguing with his wife. Kamal, who voices the character, appeared with in full old-man makeup as Kissel in the Insane Clown Posse movie Big Money Hustlers (voiced by Kamal).
- Anthony Kissel - Kissel's son; appeared on two tracks to date ("Uncle Freddie" from The Jerky Boys' album , and "Laundromat" from the The Jerky Boys 4 album). Anthony is also mentioned in "Husband Beating" (from The Jerky Boys 2 album), where Kissel said "I got a couple children, they're a little older right now", but he did not mention his real name (voiced by Brennan).
- Martha Kissel - Kissel's wife; often appears with Kissel. Her voice can be heard in calls such as "Uncle Freddie", "Husband Beating" and "Kissel Sails". On "Uncle Freddie" (from The Jerky Boys album), Kissel revealed his wife's name before he began arguing with the person who answered the phone about whether Uncle Freddie had died (voiced by Brennan).
- Nikos/Nicos - an immigrant Greek delicatessen owner; appeared on one track to date ("Bad Tomatoes" from The Jerky Boys 3 album) (voiced by Brennan).
- Pico - an abused Mexican immigrant; often appears with Kissel (voiced by Kamal).
- Frank Rizzo - an extremely abrasive blue-collar Italian-American New Yorker with bizarre complaints and requests (voiced by Brennan). (not to be confused with the 1972–1980 Philadelphia mayor, Frank Rizzo)
- Sol Rosenberg - a frail, male 50-something New York Jew who often suffers from various and often comical problems and ailments. (voiced by Brennan).
- Rosine/Rocine - a flamboyant Puerto Rican latina who often slaps herself (voiced by Brennan).
- Silverman - a phony sports agent ("Silverman Baby!!" track from The Jerky Tapes album) (voiced by Brennan).
- Tarbash: the Egyptian Magician - a Middle-Eastern man with a repertoire of dangerous stage tricks who mutilates himself or is attacked by various wild animals used in his acts; has also suffered at the hands of a depraved dentist. His last appearance in the Jerky Boys albums was in The Jerky Tapes (voiced by Kamal).
- Jack Tors - a flamboyant homosexual man who sometimes is taking part in odd sounding sexual activities and is looking for help or supplies related to this. Also a musician and a dancer(voiced by Brennan).
- Brett Weir - a name that comes up in classic call "Super Across The Way" (from The Jerky Boys album) and is also mentioned in "The Gay Model" ; actually Brennan's brother-in-law's name. The character, portrayed by actor James Lorinz, also appeared in 1995's Jerky Boys: The Movie.
|The Jerky Boys |
|The Jerky Boys 2 |
- Released: July 1994
- Chart positions: #12 Billboard 200, #16 Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums (1994)
- RIAA certification: Platinum
- Singles: "Pablo Honey", "Pet Cobra", "Terrorist Pizza", "A Little Emergency", "Sporting Goods"
|The Jerky Boys 3 |
|The Jerky Boys 4 |
- Released: October 1997
- Chart positions: #63 Billboard 200 (1997)
- RIAA certification:
- Singles: "Sol's Thermometer Mishap", "I'm a Diva", "Hello Ray", "Truck Registration", "Laundromat"
|Stop Staring at Me! |
- Released: May 18, 1999
- Chart positions: #117 Billboard 200 (1999)
- RIAA certification:
- Singles: "The Hucklebuck", "I Pickle They", "Hair Vitamins", "Big Hock"
|The Jerky Tapes |
|Untitled upcoming release|
Film and TV appearances
- English rock band Radiohead named their 1993 debut album, Pablo Honey, after the first call on The Jerky Boys 2 album (apparently having heard it on a bootleg tape, well before release of the material on CD.
- The duo frequently incorporated references to The Howard Stern Show in several calls ("Food & Drug Complaint" from 1997's The Jerky Boys 4 album; "You Wanna Scrap?" from 1999's Stop Staring at Me! album; "Bright" from 2001's The Jerky Tapes album).
- Sleeping Bag Records founder, and long time New York City-based music promoter Juggy Gales was prank called by Johnny Brennan (Frank Rizzo) on "The Hucklebuck" track from 1999's Stop Staring at Me! album, one year before the death of Gales in 2000.
- The Jerky Boys are referenced in the Arrested Development episode "Burning Love," in which the character George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera) convinces his Christian girlfriend not to burn his Jerky Boys tape.
- Brennan's Sol Rosenberg voice is nearly identical to the voice he uses as pharmacist Mort Goldman on Family Guy
- In a March 2007 interview, Brennan claimed that all of the Jerky Boys characters, including Tarbash and Kissel, were based on people that he knew. Kamal, on the other hand, has claimed both characters were his creations.
- In 1992 crossover thrash band Dirty Rotten Imbeciles used samples of the Jerky Boys track "Auto Mechanic" on the song "The Application".