If you’ve being watching Big Brother then you’ll feel like you’ve watched three series of Fonejacker already, the adverts elbowing their way into every BB commercial break. Putting a new twist on the prank phone call requires ingenuity, a deep knowledge of the pitfalls of the practice and a good instinct for when the joke stops being funny. Fonejacker has none of these but it does have some pretty good two-dimensional Captain Pugwash cardboard cut out animation. The main problem for the show is that Victor Lewis-Smith was doing this years ago and was a lot funnier.
"The victims are ordinary members of the public being cold called, reception and counter staff. The majority quickly realise it’s a prank which is surely a failure on the part of Fonejacker?"
The brainchild of actor Kayvan Novak, Fonejacker first came about as a pilot for Channel Four’s Comedy Lab in 2005. Fonejacker adopts a series of recurring characters for his phone calls. There’s George Adgdgdwngo the African scam artist who attempts to get your bank details using increasingly unlikely hard luck stories. Then there’s Mr. Doovdé, a foreigner who has difficulty with acronyms, pronouncing them as complete words like Doovdé (DVD), and Ibrahiem Puck (IBM PC).
Terry Tibbs is an Arthur Daley type second-hand car dealer who drives a hard and increasingly stupid bargain. The victims are ordinary members of the public being cold called, reception and counter staff. The majority quickly realise it’s a prank which is surely a failure on the part of Fonejacker?
"There’s nothing wrong with laughing at foreigners mispronouncing things but when it takes up half your show you know you’re struggling."
It’s one of those programmes that flirts with being funny but seems at a loss how to go all the way. The animations are cool and the ideas are passable but the public’s reactions are wholly predictable. Trigger Happy TV had a greater visual impact and also had a better developed sense of the surreal. There’s nothing wrong with laughing at foreigners mispronouncing things but when it takes up half your show you know you’re struggling. I also have a problem with bothering and being rude to people who don’t deserve it. Annoying some harassed waitress with your year-old Comedy Lab scribblings is pushing your luck a touch. For all I know this could have a cult internet following – it wouldn’t surprise me. But I do have better things to do with my time than watch this.
The best thing about it: The animation
The worst thing about it: The laziness
The verdict on Fonejacker: It’s exactly what you expect.
Marks out of 10: 5