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Monday, November 12, 2012


Rhode Island's Prankster-In-Chief: Rob Iannotti made national TV and internet news last week, when his First Birthdays prank on WJAR went viral. Here, he poses with lawn signs for his 2012 campaign for Mayor of West Warwick (the town does not have a mayor).

Last week, WJAR's First Birthday broadcast that had been hilariously punked with fake baby names got into the hands of the staff at Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel used the clip in his monologue, as did The Soup, and soon those videos themselves went viral. "Whoever pulled that one, congratulations," Kimmel said. "That was well done."

The man who says he pulled it off has stepped out of the shadows, now, and into his own spotlight. Rob Iannotti III is a 23-year-old Warwick resident, aspiring comic and professional funeral director (no prank), and has claimed responsibility for the prank of the year. He spoke with GoLocal about his pranking career and sudden internet fame.

So, you're the guy behind it all. How do we know it was really you?

Well firstly, I am no “fly-by-night prankster". I have been slipping silly names past Channel 10 for the past eight years and have been performing in the art of prank phone calls for the last decade. The first name I submitted to Channel 10 was my own; then once I realized there’s really no screening process I began submitting the names of friends and family members, which of course lead to the zany names.

Were you surprised to learn the WJAR prank went viral via Jimmy Kimmel? Did you have anything to do with getting the clip to them?

I was totally shocked! Having one of your pranks recognized on such a large scale is utter bliss. It sounds silly, but as a prankster, when Jimmy Kimmel congratulates you on a job well done you can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment! It all started a week before Hurricane Sandy hit, when my friend and cohort, Jeff Reading, and I were bouncing zany names back and fourth via text message. Ultimately, “Ijaz Fahted” and “Dawn Keibals” were submitted to Channel 10. After it had aired on the news someone posted the prank on WJAR’s Facebook page. It was “shared” on Facebook so many times that websites like Deadspin and Gawker picked it up, and finally Jimmy Kimmel.

You've got a website devoted to pranks like these... how many times have you tried to prank TV stations like this? Do you only prank your local stations?

I’ll prank anyone, anytime, anywhere. The median in which I prank changes with the times. I prank people on dating websites with a phony character I made (a “spicy” character named “HotSauce50”), to Rhode Island’s Craigslist where I post that I’m hiring for ridiculous job positions, to simply calling stores or restaurants... just to give them a hard time. The key is to keep the pranks harmless and in relatively good taste.

How long have you been pranking like this? What gave you the idea to get started with it?

I’ve been recording my prank phone calls for the last ten years. I just get a kick out of pulling something over on someone, as long as it’s in good fun and no one gets hurt. The motto I live by is that, “Life is too important to take seriously." You have to have a healthy sense of humor. If everyone had a better sense of humor, the world would truly be a better place. 

What's the best prank you've pulled off that nobody knows about?

Well, most of my pranks are on my website, WhosCallingRob.com, but one thing not many people are aware of is my “beef” with Jay Leno (that Jay doesn’t know about). In 2008, I wrote a string of bogus ads on our local Craigslist site. I posted that I was hiring for jobs no one would ever want, apartments that no one would ever want to live in, and free things that no one would ever want… or so I thought. I then posted all of the responses I had received from people pertaining to each ad. I was foolish enough to send these all to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. My book was titled, “The Craigslist Chronicles," and I believe it is more than a coincidence that two weeks later Jay Leno had a bit called “Craigslist Confidential” featuring all VERY similar posts.

Are you pranking me right now?

Only if you believe me.

For those who didn't see Iannotti's prank featured on The Soup, here it is.


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