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Please Hold: ‘Crank Yankers’ On Line 1

Hold the phone: Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla’s Crank Yankers returns this week (10:30pm ET Wednesdays on Comedy Central) after a 12-year hiatus with a new 20-episode run of unrepentant idiocy, featuring the voices of some of the funniest people in Hollywood. And more puppet sex than you could ever hope to watch.

For the uninitiated, people under the age of 25, and those reading this despite not having a TV set, the show is a series of crank calls made by variety of comedians — folks like Kimmel and Carolla, Will Forte, Tiffany Haddish, Abbi Jacobson, Nick Kroll, Demetri Martin, Tracy Morgan, Chelsea Peretti, Aubrey Plaza, Jeff Ross, Sarah Silverman, and Derek Waters (the genius behind Drunk History) — dramatized with by puppets.

Waters’ participation is a natural, given the structural similarities between Crank Yankers and Drunk History: each show is a series of ridiculous narratives being acted out by third parties that bring their own twist of lunacy to their interpretations. This structure also allows Crank Yankers to deliver an endless string of sight gags.

The show will revive beloved characters from the show’s previous iterations, including the smooth talking Spoonie Luv (Tracy Morgan), the irascible Elmer Higgins (Jimmy Kimmel), aristocrat Niles Standish (Tony Barbieri), gaseous stoner Bobby Fletcher (Jim Florentine), public relations wiz Terrence Catheter (Kimmel again), and deranged Vietnam veteran Mr. Birchum (Adam Carolla).

The first call of the first episode features Spoonie Luv calling a park ranger to complain that while he was having sex with his wife on a park bench “in the daylight, in front of everyone,” a bird pooped on his head. What follows is an awkward discussion of jealous birds and sexual positions. 

Other highlights include Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!) as a fan of the prison drama Oz who, in a moment of confusion, calls Wizard of Oz-themed The Museum of Oz, only to have his interest piqued when he learns it’s the story of a murderous 15-year-old girl who steals things. And then there’s David Allan Grier as Landalious “The Truth” Truefeld, who tries to recruit the members of a retirement community for his Senior Citizen Football League — be sure to keep an eye on the elderly couple playing poker in the background.

Bobby Moynihan’s Dr. Penis, a formerly mild-mannered husband and father driven to a life of dubstep and pink and green dreadlocks by his first exposure to a vape pen, is the best call of Episode 2; that performance is followed closely by Jeff Ross as The Roast Master, some rando dude who sits on his toilet for the benefit of an audience of fleas and calls a British pub to hurl insults at the manager. It’s essentially a toned-down version of the abuse Ross has been hurling at celebs, but only this time, his target is an unsuspecting civilian.

Along with Kimmel and Carolla, the show’s creative pedigree is rounded out by Daniel Kellison, and Kimmel’s little brother, Jonathan. You likely recognize the first two names, but the other two guys are not to be overlooked as hangers-on or the benefactors of nepotism. Kellison spent eight years as a producer for David Letterman, while the younger Kimmel spent 6 seasons writing for South Park — they’ve got legit comedy chops.

Catch the season premiere of Crank Yankers on Comedy Central on Wednesday, September 25, at 10:30pm ET. You can also catch the latest season of Drunk History on-demand from Comedy Central.