The Benny Calls, circa early 1980s

For my money, the best prank calls of all time were an endless series of calls made to someone by the name of Benny at Al White Motors in Tennessee by someone named Arnie at some point during the early 1980s. I say the 1980s, because Arnie asks Benny if he’s campaigning for Jesse Jackson at one point and Benny reacts very angrily (I can’t remember if this snippet is part of the calls at the links I’m supplying).

The premise is this: Arnie constantly pesters Benny about being friends … sometimes multiple times an hour … and Benny is … well, less than accommodating. Benny curses out Arnie at every opportunity, most frequently calling him a “buzzard bastard, “bastard buzzard,” “son-of-a-bitch-bastard buzzard” or telling Arnie to “Go to Hell!”

At first, the calls seem monotonous. But if you listen for a while, the pure benign stalker-ish charms of Arnie wash over you like a warm shower … and Benny’s (understandably) annoyed and tortured responses are … sorry … really really funny.

If you listen, you will also notice some drama emerging. It seems that Benny got a friend’s sister pregnant while he was in the Army and dumped her. The friend’s name is Barney and Arnie reveals that he is Benny’s long-lost son. Whether any of this is true or not is pure speculation, but the question does emerge of why Benny stays on the phone so long with Arnie and puts up with him. It’s the weirdest, most evocative expression of audio S&M ever recorded.

At some point in the 1990s, someone made a feature film out of the calls called “The Corndog Man” starring Noble Willingham as the Benny substitute. While Willingham delivers a career-best performance, the movie is uneven and quite frankly, I was a little disappointed the film “explained” the reason why Arnie was audibly torturing Benny. I kind of liked it when it was a mystery.

If you like the 45 minutes of calls linked above, there’s another 45 minutes at the link below, you bastard buzzard! And if you don’t like Hotpoint, go to hell!

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