As I mention in several places on this site, I try to focus on reviews of independent and electronic artists. Every once in awhile, though, I run across something that is completely different, yet I feel like I need to review it to expose it to a wider audience. One of these such releases is this new release by Coyle and Sharpe. In case you haven't heard of them, they were basically the forefathers of catching pranks they pulled on people on tape. Sure, there have been court jesters throughout the different centuries, but these guys were two of the first to actually record their escapades on tape.
Starting in the early 60s, they preceeded Candid Camera by over ten years and the idiotic juvenile pranks of the Jerky Boys by well over 20. Not only that, but unlike the Jerky Boys, these two did their pranks face-to-face with people on the street instead of hiding behind a telephone line, which not only involved quite a bit of good acting, but the ability to keep a straight face during some of the responses that they received. Unlike most comedy of this type today, the scenarios that they set up are actually quite smart and thought-out sounding, but never fall off into bodily functions or swearing for humour. Actually, there's not one bad word on the entire CD, and the humour comes (like all good gags) in the reactions that they get from the people they are joking with.
Although all the tracks on the disc are great, I'll try to explain a couple of them just to give a quick overview of the type of humour that can be found. On the second track "Ashtray On Nose," the duo convince a man (a New Zealander) that they are biologists and can give him a shot that will allow him to grow different things (like an ashtray) on his body that he can then sell. The premise is completely bizarre, and the man seems so flustered and scared by the prospect that he trips over his words constantly and tries to get away from the duo. In another scenario (one that's also featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art's Special Exhibit), the two men act as job recruiters that talk a man into literally working in a living hell (with flames and snakes and maniacs). They explain that not only is there a 98% death rate for the job, but that the one meal that you get during the 10 hour shift is cooked bat. Of course, the funniest thing about it all is that the man they talk to sounds enthuised about it all. In yet another skit "Cake For Pronoun," they try to convince a man to trade them a cake he is carrying for use of a word for an entire day. While it sounds crazy, they actually make a solid argument as to why he should give it to them, although he still manages to get back to his office with the confectionary item.
One of the funniest things about the duo is how they work together so seemlessly. While some of their put-ons were rehearsed ahead of time, a lot of the time they just improvised in the streets. You'd never guess this from hearing them, though, as they not only always have something to add to one another, but manage to sound very convincing through it all as well (even during some of the most ludicrous situations). Perhaps it's their air of professionalism that threw people off even more and lent them more respectibilty. Possibly the best thing about the disc is that even nearly 40 years after the recordings were made, the entire thing is still laugh-out-loud funny. Several of the things they talk about have even managed to come true over that span of time (they discuss genetic engineering and cult recruiting). It's smart and innovative at the same time, and the fact that it's held up so long is a tribute to both.