Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe
were two pranksters who appeared to be straitlaced on the outside, but were in fact very twisted on the inside. The two walked the streets of San Francisco in the early 1960s with weird ideas and a hidden microphone in search of suckers who might be lured into their elaborate put-ons. They carved out their own genre, preceding Hidden Camera, the Jerky Boys
, and others who followed in their wake. They began a relationship with Fantasy Records that ended with the head of Fantasy throwing their master tapes down the stairs screaming, "Get out of here, you Communists!" Apparently, the progressive label that had Lenny Bruce
on its roster found the duo's antics too bizarre for its taste. They were finally picked up by Warner Brothers, which had been having some luck with comedy records by Bill Cosby
and Bob Newhart
at the time. Their first record, The Absurd Impostors, sold only 13,000 copies, but it led to an evening slot on local radio station KGO, an ABC affiliate. The radio show was titled Coyle and Sharpe On the Loose and became an immediate hit, with their ratings skyrocketing 2, 200% in just nine months. The duo split in the mid-1960s and were never heard from again as a team. Over the years, their out-of-print albums became legendary, the two were interviewed for the RE/Search book Pranks!, and finally, in 1995, Henry Rollins'
213CD record label issued On the Loose
, a compilation of some of the best cuts from their Warner Brothers albums. Audio Visionaries
followed in 2000.