Tuesday, 8 July 2008

‘Is your fridge running?’ Trick phonecalls make me cringe

There’s a chap called ‘Wackhead’ (do I need to say it’s not the name his parents gave him?) Simpson who presents a weekly series called Clipz on our pay-TV channel. It’s a collection of ‘the best’ movie clips off the Web and, in between the usually cruel exploitation of people falling spectacularly off bicycles and committing other painful-looking errors of judgment, it does occasionally deliver laugh-until-you-wet-your-pants entertainment (particularly if, like me, you find the things cats do hysterically funny).

Wackhead’s style of inter-clip commentary is rather curious – he talks as if he’s been programmed by an amateur robotics enthusiast. Which is, perhaps even more curiously, not the way he hams it up when he does his ‘trick phonecalls’ for our local radio station.

These involve phoning perfectly innocent members of the public and driving them completely nuts, either because of the timing of the phonecall or because of its subject matter. Listeners are required to, I assume, laugh heartily at these unfortunates as they (usually) lose their temper and employ astonishingly bad language – in other words, behave in a way they definitely wouldn’t like their mothers to hear and probably also wish weren’t being shared with a lot of South Africa.

I’m the first to admit I have an embarrassingly unsophisticated sense of humour but, even so, there’s something so horribly cringeworthy about listening to someone totally lose it and have a huge phone fight which he or she doesn’t know is being tuned into by thousands of people.

This morning's trick phonecall involved Wackhead phoning some poor bloke (Wackhead usually targets local celebrities, the better to up the public humiliation factor, I suppose; I didn’t hear who this morning’s was) at 3 in the morning and offering him a subscription to a ‘Wake Up Call’ service. The victim was understandably pissed off and severed the connection. Wackhead called back five minutes later, and when the poor sleepy dude slammed down the phone again, he called back again. And again. Until (haha!) he admitted who he was.

I didn’t find listening to this funny at all. I found it excruciating. It reminded me of those early-1980s Funny People movies when director Jamie Uys played ‘candid camera’ tricks on ‘ordinary South Africans’ – but usually black people, because they were too downtrodden and frightened to tell whatever whitey was making them look up a chicken’s poephol, for instance, to determine which farm it should be sent to, to take a flying leap.

My friends and I used to play ‘trick phonecalls’ on people whose numbers we took at random out of the phonebook when we were younger. But we grew out of it.

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2 comments:

Juno said...

Ja Mur, agree - absolutely cringey. I don't think this is humour - it's just someone lacking a basic sensitivity gene. Where's the fun in humiliating someone else?

meggie said...

Exactly. We grew out of it.
I hate phone calls or 'candid camera' setups. Not funny. Not entertaining.