Slate's presidential election soundboards: John McCain and Barack Obama.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Oct. 17 2008 10:59 AM

The Barack Obama Crank-Call Generator

Slate's presidential election soundboards.

If you live in a swing state, you're probably getting deluged with phone calls. Volunteers, staffers, even candidates themselves—or at least recordings of them—are hassling you at all times of day and night.

Here's your chance to join in on the fun.


If you were around in the early days of the Internet, you may have discovered the joy of soundboards—grids of buttons that play different phrases, usually spoken by a celebrity. The basic idea: You call someone up and use the soundboard to simulate your end of the conversation. The best soundboard, hands down, featured Arnold Schwarzenegger and produced some prank calls that rose to the level of art.

Just in time for the election, Slate presents the next generation of crank-call technology: the John McCain and Barack Obama soundboards. Just call up a friend, enemy, pizza place, or rival campaign press office and use the sound effects below. For some, it's easiest to hold the receiver up to a computer speaker. Others prefer to use Skype or some other VOIP program. If you choose the latter technique, you can adjust your computer's sound controls to play the recordings directly into the phone line, which makes for crisper sound.

Here's how you might get started. When someone picks up, you could click "Good morning." After they respond, click "I'm John McCain." After that, you might try, "How are you, sir?" or "Is that a pizza place?" From there, you could tell them about your "clear record of bipartisanship," take umbrage ("Those kind of remarks are very hurtful"), assure them you will capture Osama Bin Laden, and much, much more!

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

Andrew Bouvé is the co-executive producer for Slate video.

Jim Festante is an actor/writer in Los Angeles and regular video contributor to Slate. He is the author of the Image Comics miniseries The End Times of Bram and Ben.


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