Pranking strangers on the phone might seem to be an ages-old, adolescent-only pastime, but it turns out that adults (especially radio DJs) love the activity. Though prank calls of all degrees are capable of attaining hall-of-fame status, the best -- and decidedly most epic -- calls occur when a caller breaks through to a celebrity or important national figure, all for the sake of a good laugh.
Whether you're a would-be prank caller looking for some massive inspiration or simply a curious researcher, take a look at this list of the most famous prank phone calls and voicemails:
Sarah Palin/Masked Avengers
In late 2008, then-Vice Presidential hopeful and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin received a phone call from a particularly exuberant-sounding Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France -- or that's what she thought. In reality, it was famous Quebec comedy duo Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel (also known as The Masked Avengers) who engaged Palin in frivolous conversation for a full five minutes, during which they discussed hunting, Sarkozy's ability to 'see Belgium from his house,' Dick Cheney, and a possible 2016 Presidential bid for the governor.
Despite a few obvious jokes and a clearly over-exaggerated French accent, Palin was unable to identify the call as a prank until the jokesters did it for her (after the stunt, of course.)
Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross
The show was pre-recorded, and, amazingly, approved by BBC officials for broadcast. Brand and the BBC later apologized after receiving a formal later from Sachs (and receiving over 500 letters of complaint.)
Radio El Zol/Hugo Chavez
In 2003, Miami radio presenters Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos phoned Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela -- and used taped clips of Cuban president Fidel Castro's voice to lure him unwittingly into conversation. (The clips were from a private conversation between Castro and Mexican president Vicente Fox, which were released to the media a year earlier.)
'Castro' and Chavez bantered on for a few minutes before the presenters cut in to reveal their true identity and shout a series of insults at the Venezuelan leader before hanging up.
DJ Pierre Brassard/Queen Elizabeth
In 1995, Canadian DJ Pierre Brassard got through to Buckingham Palace pretending to be Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien -- and ended up speaking with Queen Elizabeth II (on-air) for fifteen minutes. Brassard urged the queen to support 'Canadian unity,' and she promised to try to influence referendums on Quebec's breaking off from Canada.
She never realized the call was a joke, and the Palace later released a statement calling the incident 'irritating and regrettable.'
Steve Penk/Tony Blair
In 1998, DJ Steve Penk penetrated Downing Street's secure phone line to reach British Prime Minister Tony Blair, posing as opposition leader WIlliam Hague. Blair recognized the joke almost immediately (Hague always addressed him as 'Prime Minister,' never 'Tony') but played along in good humor. Penk as Hague even offered Blair a Cher exercise video.
Tube Bar Calls
In the mid-1970s, John Elmo and Jim Davidson made a series of prank calls to the now-infamous Tube Bar in New Jersey, owned at the time by heavyweight boxer Louis 'Red' Deutsch. The callers would ask for bar patrons using homophones for obscene or funny phrases (Al Coholic/'alcoholic' or Ben Dover/'bend over,' etc.) Sometimes Deutsch would catch on and respond with hostility and threats, all of which are recorded on the 'Tube Bar tapes.'
The tapes circulated widely in the '80s: Simpsons animator Matt Groening even obtained a copy, and the tapes became inspiration for a running gag on the show where Bart Simpson calls Moe Szyslak's bar asking for humorous-sounding names.