The Tube Bar prank calls are a legendary series of prank calls. In the mid-1970s, John Elmo and Jim Davidson made a number of phone calls to the Tube Bar in Jersey City, asking the proprietor if they could speak to a named customer. The given names were homophones for other, often offensive, phrases. Recordings of the calls circulated widely on bootleg tapes and may have been the inspiration for a running gag in The Simpsons.
In the mid-1970s, two young men, John Elmo and Jim Davidson (later known collectively as The Bum Bar Bastards, or BBB), began calling a bar named the Tube Bar, which was in Journal Square in Jersey City, New Jersey. The bar was owned by heavyweight boxer Louis "Red" Deutsch, and most of the time Deutsch answered the calls. During each call, the callers would ask Deutsch to call out fictitious, punning names such as Al Coholic (alcoholic) or Mike Hunt (my cunt). Most of the time, Deutsch would call out the names, unaware that he was being subjected to a prank. But sometimes Deutsch would catch on to the prank, and when he did, he responded with extreme hostility, shouting at the caller with profanity, obscene sexual references (usually involving the caller's mother), and threats of physical harm. He would say things such as, "I'm gonna break dem bones in your feet, so you'll never be able to walk right again!" as well as "I'll cut your belly open and show you all the black stuff you got in there!" Sometimes Red would offer the two $100 or $500 if they would show up at his bar, but they never did.
All the calls were taped and shared with friends. By the 1980s, the equipment managers of several Major League Baseball teams had shared copies of the tapes, which had become known unofficially as the Red Tapes or Tube Bar Tapes. The tapes' popularity spread throughout the league, branching out to other professional sports leagues and then to sports reporters and into the media. The 1981 movie Porky's included a scene with characters calling a bar asking for "Mike Hunt". Animator Matt Groening obtained a copy and incorporated the phone hijinks into a running gag on The Simpsons with barkeeper Moe Szyslak, who is based on Deutsch. Although Groening is a fan of the tapes, he describes the connection as "creative synchronicity". Several New York City alternative rock record labels released various edits of the tapes on vinyl before the Bum Bar Bastards came forward in the 1990s to claim copyright of the tapes.