Earles and Jensen

Attempting to prove that the art of the prank phone call is not dead despite the best efforts of its most famous practitioners, comedy writers Andrew Earles and Jeff Jensen have turned their hobby of confusing people over the phone into a recording career with the release of their album Just Farr a Laugh: The Greatest Prank Phone Call Ever! Vols. 1 & 2. Earles hails from Memphis, TN, and was the co-founder of the zine The Cimarron Weekend as well as contributing regularly to a number of music magazines, including Magnet (where he pens the column Where's the Street Team), Spin, Paste, Vice, and The Onion A.V. Club. Jensen is also a regular Vice contributor, and as a musician he's performed with the groups Smack Dab, the Jewish, and the Closet Case.

The two began collaborating on prank telephone calls in the '90s, creating oddball characters who would interact with unsuspecting strangers, such as "Bleachy," a grossly overweight would-be career military man with an overwhelming fondness for cheeseburgers, and "Midlife," an over-40 salesman who has embraced an "extreme" appearance and party-hearty lifestyle. As Earles told a reporter in 2008, "For the most part we don't yell at call recipients, and cruelty is an unspoken no-no. We don't want to ruin someone's afternoon. For better or worse, we enjoy making obscure references and creating situations that might go in any direction."

For several years, Earles & Jensen's recordings circulated among underground traders, and Earles released a few on a 7" single, but in 2002 Earles assembled an album's worth of their phone pranks on a disc entitled Just for a Laugh, which was released on his own Failed Pilot label. The material eventually caught the attention of Matador Records, who in 2008 issued Just Farr a Laugh: The Greatest Prank Phone Call Ever! Vols. 1 & 2, a two-CD set that featured the complete original album, another full disc of later material, and a 60-page book featuring exclusive artwork and appreciative essays from the likes of Neal Pollack, Archer Prewitt, Gerard Cosloy, and Devendra Banhart. ~ Mark Deming

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