The Jerky Boys

jerky boys

The Jerky Boys is an American comedy act from Queens, New York, whose routine consists of prank telephone calls and other related skits. The act was started in 1989 by childhood friends Johnny Brennan and Kamal Ahmed (who left in 2000).

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.

Brennan began making and recording prank telephone calls in the 1970s, and teamed up with the younger Kamal, in the late 1980s/early 1990s 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-based radio personality Howard Stern, who played the duo’s tracks on the air. They released their first album, ‘The Jerky Boys,’ in 1993. In 1995, the duo appeared in Touchstone Pictures’ ‘Jerky Boys: The Movie,’ which was almost universally panned by critics.

Stock characters played by Brennan include ‘Frank Rizzo,’ an extremely abrasive, foul-mouthed blue-collar Italian-American New Yorker with bizarre complaints and requests. Frank curses repeatedly at a potential employer during an inquiry about a job, and accuses the Mickey Mouse character at Disney World of molesting his children. ‘Sol Rosenberg’ is a frail, insecure, male 50-something New York Jew who suffers from various, and often comical problems and ailments. Somewhat childish in his demeanor, Sol seeks treatment for problems ranging from genital warts to a fear of his own shadow. (Brennan’s uses Sol’s voice to play nebbish Jewish pharmacist Mort Goldman on ‘Family Guy’) ‘Jack Tor s’ is a flamboyant homosexual man who frequently takes part in bizarre sexual activities and is looking for assistance or supplies related to this. Also a musician, catwalk model, casting director and a dancer. In a running gag, when asked to spell his surname, the character would reply, ‘T-o-r… … … s.’

Kemal was known for his character ‘Tarbash, the Egyptian Magician,’ a stage performer with a repertoire of dangerous tricks who mutilates himself or is attacked by various wild animals used in his act, and ‘Ali Kamal,’ a Middle-Eastern cab driver victimized by a sadistic dentist. Assaulted and possibly molested, Ali seeks the aid of a lawyer specializing in ‘dental malpractice.’ On another occasion, Kamal seeks the assistance of an attorney after being brutally beaten by a tenant for delivering pizza to an incorrect address.

The title of Radiohead’s 1993 debut album, ‘Pablo Honey,’ is a reference to a ‘Jerky Boys’ prank call skit in which the caller says, ‘Pablo, honey? Please come to Florida!’ to his victim. This snippet is sampled by the band on the track ‘How Do You?’


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