Gettin' paid to make people laugh is like a dream come true! I've been doin' it for free for more than 40 years and this sure feels good." The words of a man who is living the American Dream, Willie P. Richardson.
These days, he's known on radio stations throughout America as "The Phone Prankster". Mr. Richardson is a native of Nacogdoches, in the" piney woods" of East Texas. Although he says he was raised in a neighborhood so tough "They had pictures of missing policemen on milk cartons," he admits that he's had fun "messin' with folks" all of his life. He began pulling "telephone pranks" on friends and relatives starting at about the age of 12. He says that his first prank was "almost his last"...Young Willie called a "mean, stingy, hateful" neighbor, told her he was with the phone compoany, and asked how much telephone cord she had coming out of her wall (this was in the days of permanently-attached phone cords)..She replied "It looks like about 6 feet".. Willie said "Well, you do have a problem..everybody's supposed to have 9 feet of cord...I just called your neighbor and she says she has 12 feet, so she must've pulled 3 feet of your cord over into her house."
"She was furious that her neighbor had stolen her cord, "Willie said.....She asked what the phone company would do about it and Willie replied, "To save a service call, you can help me and we can do it right now"...He then proceeded to tell her to drag a chair up to and facing the wall, wrap the cord around her wrist, put her feet against the wall, count to three, and pull as hard as she could...."The line went dead...It scared me to death"! The lady had pulled the cord completely out of the wall. "One of my cousins told on me and I spent the rest of the summer mowing yards to pay for the real phone company to come out and fix it". Mr. Richardson says that was the only "mean" prank he's ever pulled on anyone.
Until the age of 4 7, Willie had a number of occupations, including; delivering furniture, driving a milk truck, landscape work ("mowin' yards"), and working as a molder in a brass valve factory. His recording career began by a twist of fate one day in 1995 when he stopped by to see a friend who owns a local record company. Willie had "phone pranked" his record producer friend several times in the past . His friend told him that he wanted him to make a prank call to a nurse at the local hospital. Willie made the call from the record company studio with the tape machine rolling. The premise of the call was that the hospital had sent the wrong baby home with his daughter and that he would like to return and exchange it for the correct one. The call was so funny that Willie and his friend took it to the hospital for the "victim" and all of her friends to hear. They were literally crying tears of laughter.
Within one week Willie had recorded his first album. A number of local radio stations began airing the recordings. After testing the recordings locally, copies were mailed to stations nationally. The response from stations and from the public was tremendous. Willie has now recorded 11 albums and his wife, Lucretia, has released her own collection of phone pranks. His latest album, "Truckin' Phone Pranks", is dedicated to his truck driving fans throughout America. More than one million copies of their recordings have been sold since 1995. He was named 2001 "Comedian of the Year" at the annual Cammy Awards Show at The Albabama Theatre in Myrtle Beach, SC.
His "In Concert" video was released in July of 2001. Mr. Richardson performed 20 concerts during the spring, 2002, season in Branson, MO.
Willie and Lucretia spend several hours each week on the phone with radio stations participating in interviews. They also make some prank calls each week to use on future album releases. They appear in concert more than 50 times yearly throughout America When they are not on the road or in the office, their hobby is "catfishin'". Their latest product, Willie P. Richardson's Catfish Magic Cheese Dough Bait, is now available in stores throughout America. Mr. Richardson recently completed a "Catfishin' with Willie P." video and it is now available.
Their humor is "clean," though some may call it "politically incorrect". They take pride in the fact that their albums are enjoyed by people of all ethnic and age groups and are being played on all types of radio stations, including; Country, Blues, Gospel, Top 40, Rock, MOR, and News-Talk. "We don't try to make fun of people or demean anyone...We're just having harmless fun with folks...Most of the calls we make are set up by a friend or relative of the victim, and we have to call them back and ask them to sign a release so that we may use their voices on our albums. We've not had anyone refuse to sign yet", Mr. Richardson states.
Willie and Lucretia plan to continue making comedy albums and performing concerts "For as long as people want to see and hear us....We love meeting our friends and fans in person". They always take the time to sign autographs and visit with fans at intermission and at the conclusion of their concerts. "Without our fans, I'd still be mowin' yards!", Willie says.