Jim Coyle (1932-1993) and Mal Sharpe (1937-) were a comedy duo from San Francisco who taped and aired their "man-on-the-street" prank interviews throughout the early 1960s. Their conservative appearance, impeccable grooming and smooth, fast-talking demeanor made it possible for C&S to pass themselves off as earnest squares with a microphone, which they used to lure thousands of largely unsuspecting pedestrians into a variety of ridiculous stories and schemes. Here are some examples:
"Rent-A-Pigeon" - C&S attempt to persuade passersby in Golden Gate Park to rent pigeons from them for $1.50 an hour, which in the early 1960s was roughly the federal minimum wage.
"Bank Robbery" - They tell people they are planning to rob a bank and need a third man to get a gun, hold up the bank, and get the money as C&S wait outside in a car to get away with the cash. A Navy guy with access to military weapons takes them up on the offer, and C&S have a hard time dissuading him, even after revealing that it's just a joke.
"May We Graft Chicken Wings to Your Head in the Interest of Aviation" - Pretty much what the title says. Lots of fast-talking from C&S propel the prank much further along than one would expect.
"Maniacs In Living Hell" - C&S attempt to recruit people to work in a place they describe as a living hell, filled with flames, violent maniacs in flame-retardant suits, and live bats. Anyone who is still interested at that point is told that the last person there died on the job, the risk of death is 98%, the shifts are 12 hours long, the pay is $46 a week, and the only meal will be a bat that gets thrown down to the employee, which he must cook himself. One interviewee had no problems with the offer until he heard the part about doing his own cooking.
These and countless other put-ons were meticulously taped and aired on local radio station KGO as "Coyle & Sharpe On The Loose", where individual pranks were interspersed with other radio programming as often as every eight minutes for three hours a night. Radio fame and two successful albums, "The Absurd Imposters" (1963), and "The Insane (But Hilarious) Minds of Coyle & Sharpe" (1964), convinced them to make a pilot for a TV show they called "The Imposters", but it never sold. In 1965, Jim Coyle and his family left town with no notice and wouldn't be found by Mal Sharpe for two decades. Coyle and Sharpe had reconnected, but Coyle was living in England had no interest in comedy anymore. Coyle died of complications from diabetes in 1993.
In the mid 1990s, Mal Sharpe's daughter started copying the old quarter-inch tapes of raw material down to DAT just to free up space in his house, when Henry Rollins coincidentally called to discuss releasing a Coyle & Sharpe CD on his record label, 2.13.61. "Coyle & Sharpe On The Loose" (1995) introduced a new generation of fans
to their "terrorizations", as C&S liked to call them. Thirsty Ear Records released more unearthed material on "Audio Visionaries" in 1999.