A soundboard prank call is a prank call made using a soundboard. The idea of a soundboard prank call is to trick the victim into thinking that they're talking to a real person, which, if done convincingly, can result in hilarious consequences. Recordings of these calls are posted on the internet, most commonly on YouTube and on dedicated sites such as Realm Of Darkness. They have also been featured occasionally on radio.
The first soundboard prank calls posted on the internet were made using Celebrity Soundboards. The earliest to be used was Arnold Schwarzenegger, with Al Pacino and Joe Pesci becoming very popular shortly after. Some other classic celebrity soundboards were Dr. Phil, Mr. T, Jack Nicholson, Hank Hill, Judge Judy and Jack Black.
It later became common for victims of memorable calls to have the recording of their voice made into their own soundboard, which was used to call further victims - or even the victim themselves. When this became more popular, many prank calls began to focus on specific popular victims and attempts to make funny prank calls to them with various soundboards. Previously, it had mostly been the other way round - funny quotes soundboards were used to make calls to various unnamed victims, with the focus being on the celebrity soundboard quotes. One of the first victims to receive their own soundboard was the Angry Black Guy, who was called with a Joe Pesci soundboard in what is widely seen as one of the funniest soundboard pranks of all time. The most famous prank call victim of all time, Duncan, was discovered several years later, and developed a large cult following after a very large number of prank calls were made to him.
Today, celebrity and victim prank calls are equally popular (and are often the same thing, if a celebrity soundboard is used to call a well known victim). Celebrity soundboard pranks are still the most widely known and listened to in general, but victim pranks are particularly popular amongst the prank calling community who have a general knowledge of them.
Some amateur calls are made using a real telephone held up to a computer speaker, and recorded using a microphone. The sound quality of these pranks is generally very poor and the victim can often hear the mouse clicking in the background. This was more common in early calls but some calls are still made and posted on YouTube using this technique.
It is more common to use VOIP software such as Skype. Not only are the calls often free or very low cost, but it is easy both to record the calls and to configure the computer to directly play soundboard audio down the line without a microphone. The audio from both ends is as clear as possible with this method. Because it is usually impossible to trace a Skype call, many more pranksters have started making calls since use of the software became popular.
Due to the nature of many of the soundboard quotes used, it is inevitable that these pranks have caused considerable controversy over the years.
Many victims have made legal threats over the phone, particularly when confronted with a series of annoying or profane prank calls. The viability of these threats is usually very limited, given the nature of VOIP software such as Skype.
The rise in popularity of victim soundboards and the increased focus on pranks to specific victims is by far the most controversial area. Some listeners and pranksters feel that the treatment of certain victims has gone too far and that the calls could even be affecting their personal lives in a bad way. The high volume of calls made to Duncan, being an extremely popular and well-liked victim, are the most frequently cited examples of this - many were opposed to the sheer volume of calls he received.
Regardless, the majority of pranksters listen to or make calls purely for comedic purposes with no malicious intent, and this means that the majority of calls cause little or no controversy. Prank calls to certain victims receive a universally positive reception irrespective of the level of harassment, due to the highly unethical nature of that victim - an example of this would be the Indian Scammers, who have deservedly received the most calls of any victim by a considerable margin.