These are off-the cuff, improvised celebrity prank calls which I recorded many years ago. They were first published as downloadable audio things on www.word.com. The idea was to use the then-brand-new internet phone books to find people with names identical or similar to celebs. They are very funny and very pathetic—with me being more pathetic than them, because especially in the first one, it verges into outright cruelty, if accidentally. This does not, however, stop them from being funny. It’s really too bad the recordings no longer exist, except deep within the duodenum of the internet somewhere. Two of these will earn me a place in hell, if sort of in the antechamber. – John Bowe
1. NIKI TAYLOR, POPULAR 1990s TEEN MODEL
Call placed to Niki Taylor, of Abilene, Texas, with me talking in a very ignorant, nasal/adenoidal, southern, sort of twenty-something stockboy voice.
Niki Taylor’s Father: Hello?
JB: Hello, is Niki there, please?
NTF: Who’s this?
JB: This is Bertis.
NTF: Bertis who?
JB: Bertis Clemens.
NTF: Bertis Clemens?
JB: I’m the only Bertis I know.
NTF: Well, I don’t know you, sir.
JB: I’m me. I’m Bertis Clemens.
NTF: Do you live next to us?
JB: Not next. Just over a little bit. Ask your wife. She knows me. I work over at the grocery store. Just yell it into the next room: “It’s Bertis Clemens!”
NTF: Well, you know her condition, don’t you?
JB: No, sir.
NTF: She can’t talk.
JB: [long pause] Oh– I didn’t know that.
NTF: Well, she can’t.
JB: Well, listen, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll have someone write her a note, cuz I can’t write so well, and I’ll just bring it on over to the house.
NTF: Bring what?
JB: A note. I don’t know!
NTF: What was you wantin’ with Niki?
JB: Well, I gotta pass on a message to her from this other fella!
NTF: What’s he wantin’?
JB: I don’t know I wouldn’t wanna poke into his business. He seems like a pretty nasty fella!
NTF: Who’s the fella?
JB: I don’t know his name. Comes by the grocery store.
NTF: What did he say?
JB: He said, “You know Niki Taylor,” and all. And I said, “Yeah, I know who she is.” And he said, “Well, I got something to say to her, and you’re gonna be the one to say it!”
NTF: Was he pretty bad?
JB: Oh, I don’t know if he meant any harm. Who knows why people do anything these days. You know what I mean?
NTF: Well, I don’t get scared of nothing, sir. Can you tell me who the man’s name is?
JB: I’m telling you, I don’t know. If I find out, I’ll let you know.
NTF: How’d you get our number?
JB: He gave it to me.
NTF: [long pause] When you find out his name, would you call me?
NTF: You know me, don’t you?
JB: No, sir.
NTF: I been in that store a thousand times. Your name is what now?
JB: Bertis. Which one is you?
JB: Which one is you, sir? Maybe I’ve seen you before.
NTF: I’m her father.
JB: Well, you can come on by and talk to my supervisor, and he’ll point me out to you.
NTF: Who’s your supervisor?
NTF: Young guy?
NTF: I know him. Okay, you find out his name, you tell me, okay?
JB: We’ll get this fella, okay? You just come by. I’m there most of the time, so….
NTF: Alright. I can fix him. I got enough friends to fix him good.
JB: Sounds good to me, Mr. Taylor. Alright?
2. ALBERT CAMUS, FRENCH PHILOSOPHER
Call placed to Albert Camus, of Washington state
AC: [rural accent, simple country guy, nice] Hello?
JB: [In very poor French with agonized, up-all-night, Gauloises seriousness] I seek the meaning of the human condition.
AC: Do what?
JB: Please. I’m seeking the meaning of the human condition. Is this Albert Camus?
AC: This is him.
JB: I’ve read your book. It’s so good. So beautiful. And I just want to know, what is the meaning of the human condition?!
AC: I don’t understand. I don’t speak French.
JB: Oh. This is very bad. I am looking for Albert Camus. Are you him?
AC: Yeah. This is Al Camus. Or Camu [French pronunciation] – however you wanna pronounce it.
JB: Oh, this is very, very bad.
AC: Anybody there speak English? I don’t speak any French at all. Where’s that area code 212 at? New York?
AC: Yeah, there’s a coupla Camuses–I got cousins that live in New York.
JB: Oh… family.
AC: Yeah, I mean, if you could find someone that speaks English that could call me back….
JB: Okay, my friend. I understand.
3. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, BODYBUILDER, MOVIE STAR AND LATER GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA
Call placed to Karl Schwarzenegger–somewhere upstate, NY.
JS: [weird Euro accent] Hello.
JB: [thick German accent] I am looking for Arnold, please.
JS: For Arnold?
JB: Yes, please.
JS: There’s no Arnold here. Arnold who?
JB: Arnold Schwarzenegger?
JS: I’m sorry, you did a wrong number. There’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger here.
JB: He’s not there?
JS: No, he’s not here. Sorry.
JB: I must speak with him!! [breaks into laughter and resumes regular John voice] Do you know where he lives? Or–anybody named Arnold. I don’t even care if his last name is Schwarzenegger. Hello?
JB: Now, you’re a Schwarzenegger, right?
JS: Ahh, yes.
JB: Do you know anybody else named Schwarzenegger? I’m looking for someone named Arnold *or* someone named Schwarzenegger.
JS: I’m sorry, but I think you did a wrong number.
JB: You’re a Schwarzenegger, right?
JS: Yes, I am, but I’m not Arnold.
JB: You’re not Arnold?
JS: Sorry. It’s not me.
JB: How long have you not been Arnold?
JS: I’ve never been Arnold. No. What’s your name?
JB: My name’s Arnold, too.
JS: Arnold who?
JB: Johnson. J-O-H-N-S-E-N – unlike the majority of Johnsons.
JS: Okay. You want me to take your phone number?
JB: Uh, sure! Yeah! Can you give it to Arnold if I give it to you?
JS: Sure! Wait a minute. Can you hold on a minute? [pause] Yeah? You are Arnold who?
JS: And your number?
JB: If you could pass it on to Arnold, I’d be….
JS: I will try to do it.
JB: Okay. Thanks. Bye.
4. JOHNNY DEPP, MOVIE STAR
Call placed to John E. Depp, of Clearwater, Florida. He’s a very old man. I’m speaking in a young, very ignorant, shy, impressionable rube-y voice
JB: Hello, is Johnny there, please?
JB: Is Johnny there, please? I just came home from seeing Donnie Brasco and I think it’s your best ever!
JD: You have the wrong John Depp.
JB: Where do you live?
JD: I live in Clearwater.
JB: I must have the wrong number!
JD: I don’t know where you got my number from, but my name is John Depp.
JB: You must get a lot of phone calls for the other Johnny Depp.
JD: I get a few.
JB: I’m sorry. Does that drive you crazy?
JD: Not that many people call.
JB: I suppose it’s a fun person to be mistaken for.
JD: I have no idea what he’s like. I’ve never even seen him in a movie.
JD: That’s right.
JB: He’s the best.
JD: Some say so and some say not.
JB: Well, all the girls sure think so.
JD: I’m an old man. I don’t think the girls’d like me.
JB: Oh, I’m sure that’s not true. There’s probably someone just around the corner.
JD: Well. I hope so someday. I have to go now.