hosting awards ceremonies at Cipriani, he was a budding comic making prank calls with his San Francisco roommate Brian Posehn. I know this because, back when I was collecting bootlegs in the mid-’90s, I came on a cassette trader who had something called The Speed Round: “Friends of mine challenge each other on who can make someone hang up the phone faster. Very offensive.”Way before Patton Oswalt was
The calls are indeed very offensive, with Posehn slinging slurs of ever imaginable variety at the hapless souls who answered the phone. Apparently, the person who got hung-up on quickest got $1,000. “I think I won with my shouting the c-word to people over and over,” Posehn recalled when we spoke to him yesterday about his new Christmas movie, Uncle Nick.
With Posehn’s permission, we’re sharing an edit of the 75-minute tape. Much of it consists of dial tones, party chatter, and misdials – but we’ve isolated out Oswalt’s best calls, including his demands for a delivery boy to take a dump in his mouth, and his straight-to-the-point call to a place named Jack’s: “Hi, I’d like to suck on Jack’s wife’s tits.” There’s also a call to the Red Hot Chili Peppers audition hotline.
Even Posehn, who isn’t exactly a family-friendly comic, admits that his calls might not be suitable for posting here. “What I remember of those tapes is so raw,” he told us.
Posehn said he hasn’t listened to the tapes in years, and was amazed that we had a copy. Apparently, he didn’t know the cassette had ever circulated. “I feel like if it got out, that was because Patton wanted it out.”
Back then, he and Oswalt were inspired by Bart “I.P. Freely” Simpson’s prank calls to Moe in The Simpsons, as well as the cult success of The Jerky Boys. “I know Patton wanted to get us into the mix,” he said.
Strangely, even in an age where recordings that were once elusive and fetishized surface on YouTube for all to hear, it seems The Speed Round has never been widely aired. Aside from the original posting I responded to, I couldn’t find mention of it on the net.
Posehn said there was also a recording called Happy Hour, in which they called Irish pubs in the middle of St. Patrick’s Day mayhem. “We’d keep them going and going and they’d get so mad at us.”
Obviously, Posehn’s act has come a long way since the early ’90s, when he says the tapes were made – just look at his Chopped parody in the new Mr. Show reboot, With Bob and David. “I feel like I’ve matured a lot,” he told us. “Or maybe not.”
We’d say so – his starring role in Uncle Nick is definitely more nuanced than his turn as Sarah Silverman’s neighbor in The Sarah Silverman Show. In the noir comedy, directed by first-timer Chris Kasick and written by Mike Demski, Posehn plays a depressive Cleveland widower who visits his sister-in-law’s house for Christmas dinner in hopes of hooking up with her sexpot daughter. Needless to say, egg nog is spiked and mistakes are made.
Press materials describe Uncle Nick as “foul mouthed,” but rest assured, nothing he says comes close to what Posehn unleashes in The Speed Round. In fact, when he’s not thinking about sending dick pics to teenagers, Uncle Nick comes off a little like warmhearted Uncle Buck. (It should also be said that without his trademark beard and glasses, Posehn bears more than a passing resemblance to his buddy Louis CK.)
Posehn agreed with this — to some extent. “I feel like we kind of started off with the lovable oaf uncle and made some darker choices,” he said.
This much can be said of Posehn’s performance: he wasn’t phoning it in.