Mike Flaherty
April 23, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

From the Anything for a Laugh Department: Select Records releases The Jerky Boys, an eponymous debut album of loopy, riotous prank calls. Known as Johnny B. and Kamal, the anonymous duo began recording its phone stunts about six years ago; word of mouth quickly made the tapes a cult party item, and the Boys established a phone line with samples for the curious. They got Select’s president, Fred Munao, to sign them up in typical Jerky fashion: with an abusive call. ”Listen up, fruitcake,” they squawked. ”If you don’t cooperate, we’re gonna drive down there and rap your head with a ratchet!” One multialbum deal coming up.

Named after one of the album’s oft-used invectives (as in, ”Here’s the problem, jerky”), the Boys employ a handful of characters — by turns pathetic, ridiculous, and obnoxious — to heap a potpourri of abuse on a variety of unwitting suckers, like Jocko Johnson who calls a demolition company to enlist its help in tearing down his estranged girlfriend’s house (”The Home Wrecker”). It’s the kind of wise-ass humor bound to bring out the snot-nosed high schooler in anyone, and this is just the beginning: A St. Petersburg, Fla., merchandising house is selling Jerky Boy T-shirts and caps, and Comedy Central is interested in doing an animated short.

Sheesh. Crank calls as entertainment. What’ll they think of next? America’s Funniest Answering-Machine Messages?

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