The 90s. The time when being weird seems to be IN. Imagine boys wearing their snapback hats backward, with bit of hair through the opening, or girls sporting huge butterfly clips on their hair. To make it even interesting, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger got pregnant, well at least in the movie Junior. And then, there is the famous comedy duo The Jerky Boys.
During the 70s, a young Johnny Brennan thought of making prank calls. He had no idea that this would later make him famous and would eventually make him one of the biggest names in comedy. He teamed up with another prankster, Kamal Ahmed, to form the comic duo between the late 80s and early 90s in their Queen’s neighborhood. Brennan began recording and accumulating collection of calls imitating famous characters. And adding Ahmed’s work like the Middle-Eastern cab driver, and you got yourself a 90s legend.
The calls were a bit offensive (acceptable during those time) but are very hilarious. The duo reproduced their tapes and hand them over to their friends. Their popularity increased through word-of-mouth as people started to ask for more. But when Howard Stern got a hand on their tapes, hell broke loose. The radio personality gave the two enough exposure, which landed them a deal with Select, an Atlantic Records subsidiary. Their self-titled CD, a 21-track compilation sold more than 2 million copies. Fans know their jokes by heart and T-shirts were printed and sold like hotcakes.
In 1994, they released their second album The Jerky Boys 2 which went platinum and was nominated for Best Comedy Album at the Grammys. Touchstone Pictures also produced The Jerky Boys: The Movie which they starred. In 1996, The Jerky Boys 3 was released, followed by The Jerky Boys 4 in 1997 and Stop Staring at Me! 2 years later.
However, before the turn of the century, the gap between the Johnny and Kamal widened. As tension tightened, Ahmed decided to leave and released his solo album in 2000. Brennan had The Jerky Tapes in 2001. But as in turn out, the 21st century was cruel to them as both were forgotten.
The demise of The Jerky Boys was somewhat timely as MTV dominates TV screens with a new comedy show, Jackass and phones have Caller IDs. However, their legacy lives on. Amy Schumer and director Paul Feig, said that they have always been inspiration to them. Seth McFarlane even hired Brennan as Mort Goldman and Horace the bartender in the Family Guy’s. Other TV show like the Comedy Central TV clearly manifests how their work made an impact in the industry. Their trailblazing works lead the way to their predecessors, and became a prime example of counterculture pranks going mainstream.
Today, Their work can be found on Youtube.com or TheJerkyBoys.com. As for Brennan and Ahmed, well, reconciliation is next to impossible. They haven’t talked to each other yet, but who knows right? The least they could do is (prank) call one of them.