Monday, June 7, 2010


As teens, Jim Davidson and John Elmo had impish senses of humor pretty much like other boys their own age. However, when it came to making prank phone calls (which every boy did as a rite of passage), they were astute enough to record them so that they could share them with their friends. Jim was the “voice” on the phone while John was the recording engineer.

By the time Jim and John started phone pranking Louis “Red” Deutsch at his tavern, “The Tube Bar” in Jersey City, these guys were already seasoned pros at pushing people’s buttons. Red had a trigger temper anyway, and Jim – slowly at first – began to set Red off by calling the tavern and asking him to page someone who had a ridiculous name. Red did not catch on at first that calling out these names would make him appear stupid, but when he finally did, he could sure hurl some abuse at Jim. It’s all hilarious to listen to, but at the same time some of it can really chill the blood.

What was to become known as “The Red Tapes” became an underground sensation, unbeknownst at first to Jim and John. Word was spreading and the tapes’ influence started working its way into the American idiom. They preceded The Jerky Boys, and really are the godfathers of the prank call CD as a legitimate form of comedy.

Matt Groening was an early fan; Bart Simpson’s phone pranks to Moe’s Tavern had all the flavor of the Red phone calls.

After a time, Detonator Records got a hold of the master Red tapes and issued them on a CD called TUBE BAR. The CD did not have just phone calls to Red, but to Tom (a sausage shop owner) and Judy (a bartender from another establishment who christened the boys “Bum Bar Bastards”). Judy, God Bless her heart wherever she may be now, had a mouth like a sailor – it was part of her charm.

Time went by, Detonator Records did not do right by the Bum Bar Bastards and the label went out of business. Laugh Records picked the CD up from that point, using the original wonderful cover artwork (pictured), but Jim and John wound up self-publishing the CD with some re-mastering and so forth. This version is now available through their websites, or

A second album, called TAVERN TOUR (pictured), was released initially only on cassette, but has since been put with TUBE BAR on a special collector’s DVD called (pictured; features Jim and John’s autographs) and also as a stand-alone CD.
A third album was put out, again through the websites, called DRUNK, DIRTY & DISGRACEFUL. The CDs and DVD are available for download.
Jim just recently informed me that a 35th anniversary DVD is in the works. Watch this space for details.

These CDs/DVDs are lots of fun if you can tolerate the threats made back and forth and, of course, “bad” language. Even my Mom laughed at some of the vileness spewed forth from TUBE BAR.

Highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment