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Johnny Brennan talks the new LP from ‘The Jerky Boys’

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The Jerky Boys turn prank phone calls into art but it’s been many years since we’ve heard a new album bearing the name. Johnny Brennan decided now is the right time to release a new self-titled album of prank calls as The Jerky Boys, and as you’ll read during the following interview, it’s not as easy as it used to be to nail down a call worthy of The Jerky Boys name.

The original duo of Johnny Brennan and Kamal Ahmed released six albums of prank calls made to unsuspecting recipients using a variety of character voices inspired in part by members of their family. Since Brennan and Ahmed split in 2000, Brennan has focused on voice work, most famously the voice of Mort Goldman on “Family Guy.”

The Maine Edge: There’s lots of laugh out loud moments on the new record. My favorite bit might be when the character Sol Rosenberg is trapped in his bathroom by his knife-wielding iRobot, and we hear him on the phone pleading for assistance from the iRobot people. It’s hysterical. Is he one of your favorite characters to devise scenarios for?

Brennan: Oh yes. When I’m doing Sol Rosenberg, I’m actually doing my mom. It’s her personality and her persona. I do two different sides of my mom’s persona. There’s Sol, the Jerky Boys character, and then there’s Mort Goldman from Family Guy, a more amped-up version of my mom. Whenever I hear that character, I really get a kick out of it. While it’s happening for me, it’s like a real moment, I’m not doing a skit, it’s happening in real time.

The Maine Edge: Has your process changed at all? What’s different now in terms of how you do this compared with the last Jerky Boys record from all those years ago?

Brennan: Yeah, it’s gotta be 24 years or so since the last one. I can’t believe how different it is now, and I hate to use the word but it’s difficult to do this now, it’s a lot more work. It’s not the same, people don’t answer phones anymore. Everybody and their mother is ready to be pranked, or they think it’s a prank from the start. Back in the day, I could just sit there and bang them out and load up a record. Today, I need to do maybe 30 of these calls just to get one where you go ‘OK, we’ve got something here.’

The Maine Edge: What convinced you to do it again after so many years?

Brennan: Mostly it’s because so many people asked for it and I figured I’m not getting any younger. I was planning to hold it back until next year but 2020 has been a tough go and I thought this would be the perfect time. I’m glad that it’s out now and that people are responding to it. The vinyl sold out on Amazon in just a couple of days. It’s amazing how loyal the fans are. It’s been decades but they’re still there. They’re the most loyal fans I’ve ever seen in my life.

The Maine Edge: Have you ever had any of the unknowing participants on the other end of your calls contact you later when they heard themselves on a Jerky Boys record? I would wear it like a badge of honor.

Brennan: Not to my knowledge. We have a really good legal team that’ll play the calls for people to get clearances. You always let it simmer down for a few weeks before you play the calls for them. Most people are good sports when they realize there’s nothing malicious or hurtful about it.

The Maine Edge: Have you ever considered doing a Jerky Boys Christmas or Hanukkah album?

Brennan: Yes, actually. I’ve wanted to do a Christmas album for a long time titled “Sol Rosenberg’s Christmas Bash.” I think that would be a lot of fun.

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 December 2020 13:29

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