A drive-thru attendant’s job is fairly simple: take orders, make change, pour drinks, double check orders, be the face of the brand for an instant. Now cell phone cameras are adding another responsibility: straight man for the amateur prankster.
The drive thru has become an open mic for all variety of jokester: the funny-voice guy, the singer, the coner (see glossary), the guy (they are invariably men) who thinks it’s funny to confuse drive thru attendants. Do a YouTube search and bask in the bounty.
The burgeoning, DIY genre may soon have its first breakout star in the bald, 38-year-old father of two, Ed Bassmaster. Bassmaster (he swears it’s his real name) has nearly 60,000 Facebook followers. His most popular drive thru prank video—a compilation of him pulling up to windows saying “Lemme get…” and nothing else, singing the “Ba ba ba ba” line from Blue Moon, and other dada-esque pranks—has… wait for it… 10 million views on YouTube.
Bassmaster’s other pranks feature characters he portrays, like Mumbles, who pulls into a drive thru and mumbles his order. A typical interaction goes something like this:
Bassmaster, who lives in Philadelphia (Philly QSRs, take note), told Restaurant Business he started doing the pranks after being inspired by other YouTube jokesters.
“A good prank in my opinion is one that does not offend or hurt someone’s feelings. Mean-spirited pranks are not my style,” he says. “The funniest part of a prank is the person’s reaction.”
And that reaction? Typically confusion, mixed with frustration and a look on the face that says, “What am I doing with my life.”
And if it all sounds ridiculous and a waste of time—which it is when you’re on the receiving end—it’s not for Bassmaster. Recently discovered by none other than Sean Penn, Bassmaster now has representation at big shot Hollywood agency CAA and is shopping a television show around to the networks. If Bassmaster finds greater success and an even larger audience, it can only mean (gulp) more imitators. Drive thru workers, gird your loins.
Glossary of pranks
Coning: A new and popular prank. The driver orders an ice cream. When the cone is handed over the driver places a cone of his own on top of the ice cream and drives off. Variations include grabbing the ice cream from the top of the cone and driving off and turning the cone upside down, dumping out the ice cream and driving off. See also “cupping.”
Cupping: Closely related to “coning,” a driver grabs his drink with his wrist twisted, thumb down, then twists his wrist right-side-up dumping the drink on the ground. Driver asks for another drink.
Dumb orders: “I want five small fries. No, just five individual fries.”
Fire in the hole: The true dregs of the genre. Typically a driver orders a drink then throws it back in the attendant’s face. Gained attention in 2010 when a Boston Market attendant suffered second-degree burns after a 180° creamed spinach was thrown at him.
Funny voices: This takes on different forms, from Bassmaster’s Mumbles to a popular and uncanny imitation of Elmo ordering at a Taco Bell.
Props: Bassmaster dressed as a bush. A guy in a Burger King mask orders at McDonald’s.
The singers: A lot of rappers, but at least one notable folk duo who sing their order to an attendant (who repeats the order back perfectly).
The steal: Not really a prank. More of, well, a crime. A car pulls up to the mic and says they just ordered but need more napkins. They pull up to the first window where you’d normally pay and get their napkins. They stay in line and pull up to the second window. The second window assumes the car should receive the next order of food, which actually belongs to the car behind them, which is currently paying for it at the first window.