TV Review – ABC’s “The Prank Panel” is Completely Absurd in the Most Entertaining Way Possible

What happens when you take a bunch of normal people with half-cocked ideas about how to prank their loved ones and put them in front of a group of comedians/prank experts AND give them a whole bunch of ABC’s money to play with? Well, you get ABC’s newest unscripted series.

The Prank Panel lets everyday people pitch pranks targeting family members, friends and co-workers to a panel of the world’s greatest pranksters – Johnny Knoxville, Eric Andre and Gabourey Sidibe. The panel of “pranxperts,” takes viewers behind the scenes as they help to plot and plan elaborate and diabolical schemes. The Panelists serve as mentors and saboteurs, with celebrity guests sometimes joining the fun.

To put it simply, The Prank Panel is essentially Shark Tank meets Jackass. Instead of Knoxville coming up with his own ideas for how to make his friends look stupid, other people come to him and the panel with their own ideas and they get to execute them. The ideas… not the people. It is such a delightfully absurd combination of concepts that it somehow works.

A fair warning though: this new series is not at all something you would expect to see on ABC. Whether that is a positive or a negative is up to you, but if you’re expecting something family friendly, this is not it (though it is, of course, completely censored). If you’re looking for something with any level of intricate storytelling, this is not it. If you’re looking for something that is hilarious, ridiculous and, at times, just a little unexpectedly raunchy, this is the show for you.

Unsurprisingly, the panel is what really drives this show. Knoxville, Andre and Sidibe have easy chemistry and deliver constant laughs throughout the show. Whether they’re executing small pranks on each other, verbally ripping the contestants and their ideas or just tossing around banter as the contestant waits in the “deliberation dome,” the panel is going to keep you smiling.

Of course, as is always going to be the case with a prank show, it does lean on cringe humor. Obviously, this is not going to be for everyone as some just can’t handle those kinds of awkward and uncomfortable situations. However, the show never really pushes the envelope so far that the audience joins in the prank victim’s pain. At least not entirely. You may sympathize with those involved a bit, but probably not to the point where you need to look away.

If nothing else, you have to admire the lengths they go to in order to create such elaborate pranks. If you know Johnny Knoxville, you know he is willing to take things almost too far. Now imagine what he can do with an ABC budget. Let’s just say this show isn’t afraid to crash a few cars or set a few people on fire.

Overall, The Prank Panel is completely absurd in the most entertaining way possible. It’s certainly not going to be for everyone as it is not exactly the most family-friendly content and it relies on cringe humor. If those don’t scare you off though, it’s a wildly entertaining show comprised of some very talented and hilarious people.

The Prank Panel will air a special preview on Wednesday, May 24th and return with new episodes in its regular time slot beginning Sunday, July 9th.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."