The owners of a Wisconsin television station are filing a federal lawsuit against two comedians for pretending to be a “strongman duo” on its local morning show. According to the New York Daily News, the suit accuses the pair of defrauding the station and misusing airtime to advertise their comedic brand.
They “performed ridiculous bits and provided false information to WEAU viewers,” the complaint states.
Atlanta-based Gray Television owns Wisconsin-based WEAU-TV in Eau Claire. They are suing The Found Footage Festival founders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher for “fraudulently convincing” WEAU to book their appearance on “Hello Wisconsin,” according to the complaint. The Found Footage Festival is a website collection of old videotapes and home videos found at thrift stores and garage sales by the duo. The festival also tours nationally. The founders have been featured on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
Prueher and Pickett have since said that the television station was “easy to exploit.” They said they pulled the stunt to entertain themselves.
"We hated doing promotional appearances on morning shows as ourselves so we thought it would be funny and interesting to see if we could book fake people on these morning shows," Prueher told the Daily News.
In November a person identifying himself as “Jerry Chubb,” emailed the “Hello Wisconsin” anchors. He claimed he was a representative of the “strongman duo Chop & Steele.” According to the report, he emailed for “help to promote our shows in Northwestern Wisconsin.” The emails included a press release that claimed that “Chop & Steele” were “fan favorites from season three of America’s Got Talent.” The pair were never on the show.
The lawsuit alleges that “Jerry Chubb” is a fake name made up to send emails containing false information.
Pickett and Prueher banged tennis rackets together, threw sticks at each other’s backs and stomped on woven baskets on the morning show. Prueher claimed that he and Pickett played the same prank on two other TV stations, and neither of those stations have filed lawsuits. Prueher said in the Daily News report that WEAU is responsible for allowing the prank to come to fruition.
“A simple Google search could have vetted this," he said. "False news may have helped sway the election. In making a point about this through our pranks, we are doing something for the public good."