Prank calls are often associated with juvenile humor, and for good reason. Calling an individual with an unfortunate name and asking for them doesn’t yield much comedic value. It would seem like such a genre would lack any room for artistic expression.
Enter Longmont Potion Castle (LPC), an anonymous Denver resident who has been terrorizing Colorado and California residents since the late ‘80s. Unlike his contemporaries, who typically use one or two tricks in their calls, LPC boasts an entire magic show ranging from conference calling confused victims to the electric guitar effect pedals he runs his voice through. His calls are released as albums, which often last more than 100 minutes with thrash metal interludes mixed in between the calls. To date, he has released 17 albums.
Albums 8-14 are often considered by fans to be the golden age of LPC, likely due to the fact that they were all released after he got an English degree. Of these albums, I think LPC’s ninth is the best entry point to his work due to the flow of the album.
The album opens with “Clown Motel,” a phenomenal opening track which is a perfect introduction to LPC. LPC calls a clown themed motel looking for three rooms for three nights which he needs to unload two Humvees full of weights into. As the owner tries to convince LPC not to come to the motel, LPC pushes back stating that he’s en route to the motel as the owner becomes increasingly flustered. It introduces LPC’s surreal brand of comedy perfectly.
The next two calls introduce two more common LPC tactics. “Interloper’s Room Service” introduces conference calling and focuses entirely on the confused victims and does not feature LPC’s voice at all. “Cables from Guam” introduces LPC’s signature delivery call in which he calls Dick Dale pretending to be DHL with a cash-on-delivery package that Dale didn’t order.
Other gems from the album include “NBS Electronics 2,” which features an incredibly angry guitar amp repairman, “Lizards,” in which LPC attempts to book a hotel room for three lizards and one cobra, all medleys which feature a series of bizarre and nonsensical calls too difficult to be categorized, and “UPS Freakout 3,” which is essentially “Cables from Guam” but three times as intense.
The calls are enhanced by LPC’s delivery itself. His vernacular is huge by prank caller standards and he employs it masterfully throughout his calls. Whenever a call begins to stagnate, he immediately throws in a fake surcharge or a third-grade bully-level threat.
His pseudonyms sound like they were created by an English major on acid. His ability to create absurd situations to trap his victims is admirable as well. His victims are thrust into hellish situations involving animals, money, whips, flamethrowers and threats of physical violence if they don’t meet LPC’s demands.
While I enjoy most of this album, there are a few instances where I feel as though LPC crossed a line. “Dirk and Josh” features LPC calling a woman and repeatedly asking her to put her son on the phone until she gets a police officer involved. There are also calls which I simply do not find entertaining, such as “Bare Essentials,” which simply features an uncomfortable conversation between LPC and an adult novelty store manager. However, I still find myself guilty of laughing at these calls purely due to their presentation.
Listening to the ninth album is like listening to a god of chaos playing with his subjects for an hour and fifty minutes straight with three-minute jam sessions spliced in between them. The album perfectly captures all of LPC’s styles and presents them in an easily processible way. LPC turns basic juvenile humor into a two-hour-long surrealist art presentation that is chaotic, bizarre and nothing short of hilarious.