Nick Ragone is an author, attorney and public relations executive in New York City. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Rutgers University, and is a graduate of the Eagleton Institute of Political Science at Rutgers University (undergraduate) and the Georgetown University Law Center.

He is the author of three books: Essential American Government, Everything American Government, and President's Most Wanted. Nick is a regular contributor to the Fox News Channel and Fox Business, the PIX11 Morning Show, and has a weekly appearance on the popular Raph Bailey Radio Show.  He co-anchored PIX11's five-hour live inauguration coverage with Jim Watkins and Kaity Tong.

Nick is a contributor to Donklephant.com, one of the most influential political blogs on the web, and  has written for US News & World Report, The Star-Ledger, Real Simple Magazine and RealSimple.com.  Nick has been quoted in over two dozen stories on politics, the presidency, and public relations.  In December of 2007, Nick was named one of PR Week's 40 under 40 to watch, and in May of 2008 was featured in "Profiles of Success", a book about public relations. Nick lives in Jersey City, NJ, with his wife and two children, and spends what little free time he has obsessing on the Mets.

Nick can also be found on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=740817853




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Five Questions for Jerky Boy Johnny Brennan

A few weeks back, I got the chance to meet Johnny Brennan, the creative force behind the Jerky Boys. For those of you unfamiliar with the Jerky Boys, you can stop reading now. And get a life.

For those of you who enjoy the sophisticated humor and debonair stylings of the Jerky Boys, this "Five Questions" is dedicated to you. What more can you about the Johnny, other than the guy invented a category of comedy -- character driven prank calls -- and still holds the distinction of having the only comedy CD to ever reach #1 on the Billboard charts.

A generation of guys practically grew up on these CDs, and I had the chance to ask him five questions.

1. How did the Jerky Boys come about?

I guess you could say the Jerky Boys got started when I was just a boy. That is when I started doing all sorts of character voices. I grew up in all types of neighborhoods with all different ethnic groups. I used to love to just listen to the different types of accents and what not. I would study the sounds and pronunciations and I would create characters mimicking certain languages and cultures.

When I hit my early teens around 1974-75 my dad had given me a portable reel to reel, it was in a giant suit case. It must have been from the early fifties, the damn thing weighed a ton. It had like five or six different heads on it, I don't quite remember, but I used to block off the heads using a thin match book and go back and rerecord over sections of tape using different characters interacting with each other and creating other various sounds with my voice to make the sound of machinery and pretty much what ever else I needed. One day I made a skit of my neighbor Mr. Weir, this was around 74-75, it was a skit that he was riding on his lawn mower mowing his lawn on a very steep incline when his own dog butch leapt out from the brush to attack him as he mowed, he screamed and tried to protect himself from his vicious dog. As he made this evasive move he lost control of the situation and the mower tumbled down the hill rolling over him several times before it all came to a horrible end. The whole thing was about a minute long but it was one of the funniest things I have ever heard in my life. 

It wasn't long after that that I started doing the now famous Jerky Boys characters interacting with people. People would always tell me how much they loved these characters like Frank Rizzo, Sol Rosenberg who is the inspiration for Mort Goldman on Fox TV's Family Guy, Jack Tors,"Big ol Bad Ass Bob The Cattle Rustler" Pico, Mike Derucci, Nicko the Greek and many many more. They wanted me to somehow get my characters out to the public and I didn't know how I would do this. One day I was looking through the want adds for a pick up truck and there by my night table was a portable radio cassette recorder and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had all these names in the want add press and I had all these characters in my head and as they say the rest is history, some 10,000,000 records later and that's not counting all the bootlegs that definitely dwarfs the amount sold.

2. Of all the calls and bits you've done, what's your all time favorite?

I have to be perfectly honest and say that I have done so many skits and routines, some that are not even on any of my cd's and I really love them all. Yes there are some that really stand out and give you a good shoe to the nuts but if you talk to anyone and ask them this question you will get a different answer all the time. There is the classic, "Auto Mechanic" or you could go with "Sol's Glasses" or "Jack tors shooting boiled potatoes up his ass" "Sol's Chainsaw mishap," "Uncle Freddy" or "Dental Malpractice." Actually two of my all time favorites aren't even on any of my cd's. They are skits that I created for a commercial for the Lee Jeans company. The first one is called "Super Greg" and the second was called "Roy." I created three skits for them for this commercial campaign and these two above won the coveted Mercury Award that year. That is why I believe that everyone has there own personal favorites. Its like having your own personal little oven.

3. It's been a while since you've put out a Jerky Boy's CD ... ever get theurge to start prank calling again?

Its funny I haven't really put out a cd in almost ten years now. You see with me it has nothing to do with the phone call. That part of it always makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable. It's more about the art of actually pulling it off that gets me. I mean if you listen to some of the stuff that I have done and really think about just how absurd it is, and that you are listening to things that are completely unimaginable and yet time after time I can keep them on the phone and truly engaged in a full blown situation
with me. This to me is priceless.

4. Does it ever get annoying to hear people recite back Jerky Boy routines to you?

Absolutely not. I love when people shoot me back Jerky Boy lines. That is the greatest compliment someone can pay you. When you have actually become part of the English language that is huge. People shout out to me from coast to coast, wherever I go. When I was in Ireland the same thing happened there. It is a great feeling. They coined the fraise "Rizzoism's" Sayings like "Hey Sizzle chest!" or "Open Your Ears Jackass!!!" or "I'll rap your head in with a fucking ratchet!" or "Uncle Freddy's Dead??" or "Shut The Fuck Up!!!" There are literally hundreds of them. Jerky Boys fans listen to the cd's and come up with new ones every day.

5. You're a regular voice on the family guy - what's it like working with Seth McFarlane?

Fox TV's Family Guy was a completely natural transition for me. I have always had my Jerky Boys cartoon characters for all of my cd's from the beginning starting with Jerky Boys #1. My cartoon character Frank Rizzo graced the cover of that multi platinum cd. It won the best album cover of the year and went on to make Frank Rizzo a very recognizable guy.

This question brings us right back to the beginning, I have always really enjoyed doing the all the different character voices. It is really a passion for me to be able to continuously be able to create brand new characters for what ever project that I am working on. Seth McFarlane is extremely gifted and very creative. When we work together it's a blast. Not to long ago we worked on an episode that people have told me is one of the funniest that they have ever seen called "Family Gay." Fans of the show know exactly what I am talking about. The horse sneaking into Peter's bedroom and licking his big fat ass. Absolutely hilarious. Anyway, in the episode Peter is injected with the gay gene and I play his lover Scott. When Seth and I were reading through the scenes you can only imagine. Normally I keep a very straight face when doing these sessions but we just couldn't stop laughing. We knew that show was going to be a big one.

I would really like to take this time to give a big shout out to all Jerky Boys fans old and new all over the planet. As I am writing this, I am preparing a package of Jerky Boys CD'S and other memorabilia to send over to a bunch of Jerky Boys fans that are serving in Iraq. I would please like to take this time to ask that we keep our brave young men and women in our prayers and that they return home safely. They truly are heroes. Thank you!

Johnny Brennan AKA "FRANK RIZZO!!!"

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Reader Comments (3)

this is cool cool, nick..i love the jerky boys!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermitch

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