In The Club... With Jon Hendren - Good Prank Call Albums Exist, You Just Haven't Heard Them YetBy Jon Hendren
For the longest time, professional prank calling seemed to be dead for all but the most immature among us. Guys doing weird voices and trying to yell the funniest combination of cuss words just never really did it for me I suppose, unless it was me doing it from a passing car toward my old coach who gave me an F for hiding in the locker room the day I was supposed to run the mile. Or toward my old Algebra teacher, who grabbed my backpack when the walkman inside it started faintly playing "MMMBop" and held it up above his head at the front of the class until the song was over. I guess in that kind of edge case scenario it would be pretty good bit, but Longmont Potion Castle's calls are something of a different nature.
Last summer I got turned on to LPC when a few friends and I were in the backseat of my boss Rich's truck being driven around Missouri for the weekend. Each time we were in the truck, most of us were usually hungover or on our way to go get drunk again. It was a nice time, but you know that smell when it's 90 degrees with full humidity, and you close the car up so all you can really smell are human bodies and that industrial yellow foam that's on the inside of seat cushions? Imagine your sinus cavity full of that hot car musk, a belly full of stale beer, a bumpy road... and then being told you're about to hear some funny prank calls. I wasn't really convinced, and I was getting ready to lose about 7 beers all over the backseat of a truck in the middle of nowhere.
Rich juggled his burned CDs and played us dozens of tracks, most of them turning out to be fantastically brilliant, and occasionally interspersed with a little metal. I ended up not having the worst time ever, and I learned that the prank call genre is actually alive and well, and in good hands. On top of everything, I was able to save my horrendous barf display for a private moment on a grassy mound somewhere in Lee's Summit, MO.
As far as prank calls usually go, the Jerky Boys and Crank Yankers are probably the standard by which the genre is judged. Where the Jerky Boys' harsh and jarring style will pummel you repeatedly with a pipe until you never want to hear another prank call record again, Longmont will maybe swat at you a little with one of those orange Hot Wheels tracks—lovingly—and you'll still come back and listen to it again a few weeks later. Instead of setting out to offend the other end, LPC usually uses a kind of gentle and unassuming deadpan absurdity and lets the call go where it may. His voice can be straight-up calming and he's typically unwilling to get vulgar, which gives him an almost "Lorenzo Music as Garfield, but a different kind of asshole" quality at times. It's a kind of sleepy-sounding cleverness that I admire, because I love to sleep and wish I were clever.
All anyone seems to know about the protagonist (or antagonist, really) is that he's some anonymous guy living in the Denver area, whose unshakably chill demeanor and repeated calls usually leave the person on the other end confused or enraged. He's been at it since the 80's, and in fact, if you listen to some of the older recordings you'll hear an occasional beep -- that's from the answering machine he used to record the early ones. It's so good. These days he's still at it, employing higher-quality recording equipment and Skype to do his thing, and he hasn't lost his touch over the years one bit.
Later volumes have been released as proper albums along with some thrash metal tracks. I'm not much of a metal guy at all, but I don't tend to turn LPC's musical stuff off if it happens to come on in the car. You can take that as a positive I guess, but I think most folks are coming for his phone work. Still, bless the guy for doing whatever the hell he wants.
Over the past six months since being introduced, I've listened to every recording I can find on YouTube, and I've pretty painstakingly narrowed it down to my 5 favorites. There's much more to explore if you like what you hear. Some of these contain fancy adult language, meaning if you're at work you should grab some headphones before you go to town. Or maybe a little goulash.
LPC calls a mom and pop shed company in Florida and demands to know who down there has been talking bad about Tough Shed.
Luther needs to rent 3 rooms to spread out all of his weightlifting equipment and pump iron for 24 hours straight.
Levi Goulet sees a goat nibblin' around out here, and wanted to see if you or one of your boys brought him by.
A wealthy fella living out on the water wants the boat store to bring a couple boats by so he can get out on the water and test drive 'em.
Using advanced technology, LPC calls both a Radio Shack and an Orange Julius and bridges the calls.
Jon Hendren is a writer and comedian who has the greatest Twitter handle of all time - @fart
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