Florida Congressional Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen got a call yesterday from someone claiming to be President-elect Obama.
"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an
incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me," Ros-Lehtinen told the
newspaper. "They got Fidel Castro to go along. They've gotten Hugo
Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, 'Oh, no, I won't be
She hung up on him. When Rahm Emanuel called back to reassure her, she hung up on him, too. Finally, her friend Congressman Howard Berman called, convinced her that it really was Obama who wanted to talk to her, and the almost-most-powerful man in the world was able to get through. Laughs all around.
Back in my magazine-writing days, I lived in a perilous world populated both by familiar (and occasionally famous) people I was interviewing and out of work comedian friends with lots of time on their hands. Whenever anyone called claiming to be, for example, Bob Hope or Frank Stallone, I would ask for their number and call them back. (The Bob Hope was fake, the Frank Stallone all too real.) The people calling were uniformly understanding of my predicament and desire to make sure I was talking to who I was supposed to be talking to.
The best prank of this sort I was ever part of involved an impersonation of Larry King. We were starting a new business, and one of the partners (Steve) was a guy just out of the military who really didn't have much of an idea how the civilian world worked. He'd been a media relations guy in the Pentagon, and part of his job was attracting media attention to our little outfit. He worked really hard at it and didn't get much traction because we weren't a good story, but Steve was completely passionate about the business, convinced down to his DNA that it would be a huge success and change the world if we could just get someones' attention. He came in every day convinced that this was the day the world was going to notice us.
So, one slow afternoon, Larry King called -- except it wasn't Larry King, it was a salesman who'd come in who did a killer Larry King impersonation. He called Steve from a few offices away, claiming to be King researching whether to do a segment on our little company. Steve was so excited to have Larry King on the line that he nearly wet himself. Our offices had glass walls, and everyone could see him literally jump our of his chair.
The conversation went on a few minutes, with "King" asking about the business model and potential markets. Steve answered the questions earnestly and professionally, and you could see he was having the time of his life until:
So, Steve, let me ask you. Are ya circumcised, Steve?