The original “Crank Yankers” featured Special Ed, a mentally-challenged puppet with the catch phrase, “Yay!”
The Comedy Central series, created by Adam Carolla, Jimmy Kimmel and Daniel Ellison, used puppets to act out prank calls made by Tracy Morgan, Sarah Silverman and others.
Its subsequent reboot, though, featured one sizable change.
Special Ed wouldn’t fly today due to the woke comedy bylaws, according to its creator, comedian Jim Florentine.
He’s right, and Comedy Central proved it.
When the cable channel brought the series back in 2019 Special Ed was conspicuously absent. You won’t find any official videos featuring the older Special Ed bits, either, despite their popularity.
The puppet/star of SML’s long-running YouTube channel is mentally challenged, too. He wears a diaper outside of his pants, swats it regularly and struggles to get more than an “F” at school.
He also wears a helmet and has a pencil lodged in his nose.
The SML franchise (which stands for Super Mario Logan) features a crush of fellow puppets, from Chef Pee Pee to Junior, Joseph and Cody. The humor is alternately juvenile, adult and occasionally sly.
The material may seem like kid’s play, but the content isn’t for young viewers. Sexual innuendo abounds, and the language is occasionally coarse.
Young Cody is gay and brags about his raucous sex life with his partner, Ken. Yes, that’s a classic Ken doll from the Barbie toy universe playing Cody’s main squeeze.
One of the channel’s running gags features Brooklyn T. Guy, a Jack of All Trades puppet who shows up as a police officer, surgeon or whatever profession is needed for the skit du jour.
“Did somebody call a doctor?”
The cartoonishly wealthy Mr. Goodman rounds out the cast. He owns the home Jeffy’s parents, Marvin and Rosalina, live in. He makes Thurston Howell III sound benevolent in comparison.
SML isn’t political in nature, but many of the gags would struggle to pass modern censors. Take Jackie Chu, the boys’ teacher. He speaks in a mock Asian accent and dresses in stereotypical garb. He’s smart and takes little guff, giving Jeffy, Junior and the gang fits.
The SML videos, which are roughly 10 minutes long each, flirt with culturally sensitive issues. One short found Jeffy using the “F-word” slur after Marvin blurts it out in a moment of duress. Others poke fun at Black Lives Matter in innocuous fashion.
SML’s current channel boasts 3 million subscribers, a far cry from previous channel counts, but a necessary shift due to “legal reasons.” Other SML channels, currently still live on YouTube, boosting Jeffy’s presence by millions more.
So who is the mind behind Jeffy?
It’s hard to find much verifiable information about Logan Thirtyacre, the company’s founder and the voice of several recurring characters. A 2020 TMZ report revealed he forked up $800,000 to meet NFL superstar Tom Brady.
It’s no accident a Brady puppet is prominently featured in several SML videos.
That article suggests the Jeffy empire has made the 20-something puppeteer wealthy beyond most YouTubers’ dream. TMZ says Thirtyacre earned roughly $1 million a month from his video channels at one point in his career.
Hollywood in Toto reached out to Thirtyacre for comment without success.
Team Jeffy has evolved over the years. Most recently, the channel’s creative team changed the name of Jeffy’s adopted father from Mario to Marvin. That switch ditched the plush Mario figure featured in older videos for a more traditional puppet.
That transition likely came as a response from Nintendo, the company that originally created the Mario figure for its video game empire.
SML Movie: Jeffy's Summer Camp! https://t.co/TOQhjItXUa
— Naija Rev (@MinisterDIE) June 20, 2022
Other changes impacted the channel’s tone. Some past videos feature R-rated language, while newer episodes put much less emphasis on adult banter.
Here’s what can’t be denied.
Comedy Central wouldn’t touch a property like Jeffy. Nor would a streaming giant like Netflix, Hulu or Paramount+.
Jeffy remains a digital-based phenomenon, existing outside Hollywood circles and under the radar of modern censors.