I know, I know, April Fools’ Day has gotten so over the top, few pranks are actually funny (especially when they come a day early.)
Sometimes, your best bet is to stick with the basics, like a good old-fashioned prank call. Successfully pulling one off is another matter, though. That’s where a new app from Ownage Pranks comes in.
Created by the masterminds behind the popular YouTube series of the same name, the app helps you send pre-recorded prank calls to people you know and lets your listen in on the call as it unfolds.
The app has dozens of pre-recorded calls, many of which are based on the characters from the YouTube series voiced by Russell Johnson, the face of the series. Each call sets up a different scenario — a stranger asking why you’re leaving notes on their door, a random coworker asking if you can cover their shift — and follows a set script with Johnson’s voice guiding the conversation.
The entire thing is automated, but the calls still go much more smoothly than you’d expect (and much better than using a simple soundboard tool.) Ownage Pranks managing partner Ed Hemz says this is partially due to how Johnson has scripted each call.
“He’s done so many prank calls he’s been able to engineer calls … he can move a call in a certain direction,” Hemz says of Johnson, noting he estimates the YouTube star has done upwards of 50,000 prank calls since he started in 2004. “I don’t think it oversteps to call him a social engineer.”
There’s also a bit of intelligence in the app, which helps the calls run more smoothly. While it does run through a set script, it’s able to detect when the person on the other end is speaking, which helps the conversation seem more natural.
Eventually, Hemz says, they’ll bake in more sophisticated speech recognition so the app will actually be able to tweak responses based on what the other person is actually saying rather than just waiting for silences.
Naturally, I had to take the app for a spin myself by sending a few prank calls to coworkers (calls require spending in-app “credits,” which you can buy in the app). While the calls were far from 100% believable, it was pretty hilarious to listen to my colleagues stumble through the bizarre calls until finally reaching the “you’ve been owned” finale.
And it was undoubtedly funnier than any prank call I could’ve pulled off on my own.