Obsession with Practical Jokes
A Joker From the Beginning
The first practical joke that I can recall playing was dealt to my own kin. I was a very young boy, probably 7 or 8. Every school day my father would wake me from my glorious slumber by opening the door, turning on the dreaded bedroom light, shaking me a little, and saying “Jeff, time to get up.”
One day I woke up before my father came into stir me. A great idea came to mind. When I heard him coming down the hall, I stood by the door and when he opened it to reach for the light switch, I grabbed his hand and shouted using a massive guttural snarl.“GRRRRRAAAHHHHH!” I screamed as I attacked and yanked on his hand. My father yelled out the first profanity I ever heard from him. I really scared the hell out of him.
Unfortunately, he dropped dead of a heart attack right there and then. Although it killed him, I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear on my successful practical joke. This was the beginning of a never-ending parade of pranks and my fascination with homemade humor. From a very early age I have always felt a great desire to deceive, frustrate, fool, and trick people so that I could watch their reactions to my pranks. Still to this very day, I can recall the almost euphoric feeling I felt waiting to scare my father; tiptoeing down the hall to the living room waiting in anticipation to hear signs of his coming, and scurrying back to my room just to prepare and get in place for the upcoming prank.
According to my mother, even before this memory of my first practical joke, I would frustrate my parents using a special type of torment, which I still like to practice. I did, do, and will always love to push peoples’ buttons. I love to take people right up to the point that they are about to yell at me, hit me, or really get pissed off and then completely back off.
For instance, whenever we went to the doctor’s office, I would run around the waiting room trying to get my mother to catch me before the doctor came in. While avoiding her, I acted as if I were going to break the glass jars sitting next to the room’s sink or I picked up the medical equipment and acted as if I were going to throw the instruments against a wall. With a devil’s gaze and smile, I would grab a tongue depressor and hold it close to my mouth, watching my mother’s dismay, and then stick the almost contaminated depressor back into the jar. Always listening for the doctor’s footsteps or the rattling of the doorknob, as soon as I heard the doctor about to come in, I would stop immediately and sit down as if I were waiting there quietly, like an angel, the whole time. This almost evil temptation to amuse myself by fooling others has spawned many pranks that both entertain and frustrate those around me.
As I grew older, I became aware and disappointed that most humans did not share the same passion I had for comedy and practical jokes. However, I was thrilled to see people making a profession at it on television. As I’m sure many youth who grew up watching Saturday Night Live did, I dreamed of becoming an actor or comedian and making large audiences laugh. However, realizing that my odds of making it as a thespian or stand up comic were not so great, I decided to focus on bringing comedy to a smaller audience: my group of friends, family, coworkers, the occasional unlucky stranger, and most importantly, myself.
My group of friends continuously looks forward to the next gag that I will come up with (or at least in my mind they do). The humor we derive from pulling pranks on one another helps to keep our lives interesting and helps us to keep in touch with one another. As far as my family, well they are stuck with what they get, so if they don’t like it, tough luck.
The Need for Practical Jokes and April Fools
What makes us derive so much pleasure from seeing others startled, confused, slightly upset, in momentary pain, or in shock? I have been thinking about this question a great deal lately. The answer is probably slightly different for each of us but I believe it comes down to the basic fact that humans like to be entertained. We like to watch the reactions of our fellow humans when placed in precarious, uncertain, and odd circumstances in the chance that it will produce something out of the ordinary or amusing to our character. When humans are recreating, being entertained, or laughing we relax and forget about our troubles. Our minds are at ease and at peace. These breaks from the everyday toils and hardships of life are useful aids in helping one achieve overall happiness. If life was all work and no play it would indeed be a very sad existence.
T.V. studios have long realized that seeing practical jokes played on complete strangers appeals to North American mass audiences. One of the very first hidden practical joke shows, Candid Camera, started in 1948 and is still in production today. This is testament to how the practical joke has remained a part of our culture and is an important tool in our lives. Recently there has been a surge in the number of television shows that entertain their viewers through the use of practical jokes. In many cases, they feature sophisticated scams, hidden cameras, paid actors, and of course, unsuspecting victims. Some newer hidden camera shows include: Trigger Happy TV, The Jamie Kennedy Experience, Women Behaving Badly, MTV’s Punked, and a most recent addition, the SciFi channel’s Scare Tactics.
While these shows are at times very humorous, they are not exactly practical for the everyday person to carry out. Most of them have elaborate schemes and setups, which you can do when you have a large budget, but when you don’t have the capital that T.V. production studios have, you are forced to turn to a more practical means of satisfying your demand for entertainment; namely seeing others around you suffer. This book contains practical jokes that anyone can pull off with a minimal outlay of cash and in many cases the resources needed are those already laying around the house or your work environment.
The Science and Art of Practical Jokes
When we play jokes on others we have in mind an idea of how they will react to the given situation and we put that idea to the test. There is something very enthralling about performing your own social experiment on a fellow human. In a way, practical jokes are akin to conducting your own research using the scientific method. You predict the outcome of how your specimen will respond to certain stimuli (a thesis, if you may), devise the plan, provide the proper environmental conditions, and then sit back and watch your experiment unfold.
Sometimes, planning and anticipating the reaction of your prank can be even more exhilarating than the actual outcome of your efforts. For me, the best practical jokes are those that are well thought out, carefully planned, take several days to unfold and in the end everyone is able to have a good laugh. The reason I like the joke to play out over several days is that over this period you get to imagine what the person’s face will look like when the joke has reached its pinnacle. There are times when the scene as played out in my mind is reward enough for the labor and time involved in preparing a joke.
That’s not to say I don’t like playing jokes that take no planning and those where the reaction of your victim(s) are instantaneous. At times, you just need the immediate gratification of seeing someone’s mouth turn blue from the fake chewing gum you handed them a few minutes ago.
To be truly dedicated to the art of pulling off the practical joke, you must have patience and let your victim suffer until exactly the right moment, when you can finally let them in on the joke you have played. Watching your victim’s reaction to the prank at hand, not claiming responsibility until you have gotten the last laugh, and stopping before you push your friends over the edge can sometimes be a balancing act. On one hand, it is only human nature to be curious to see how far you can push a person and on the other is the fact you may actually turn your friend into an enemy.
There are also jokes where you don’t need to worry about upsetting someone because you will never let your friends’ know that it was you, for example you may want to anonymously mail them a greeting card during the middle of summer being sure to include a few words of discouragement and perhaps a few other treats. I like to place pieces of Wrigley’s chewing gum, small amounts of change, or dirt in with the card. Other odds and ends you may want to send include dirty magazines, beef jerky, candy wrappers, trash, or old clothes. You may even want to make up friends to play jokes on. My girlfriend calls these people “complete strangers,” but in my mind they are my good friends or at least they could be someday.
When you have a great joke, you should try to maximize the fun derived from the gag by playing your joke to small audiences. Try to separate your victims into small groups so you can pull the same prank many times. If you have a great joke and pull the prank while everyone is watching there may be no one left to victimize. By playing pranks on people individually you can get the best return on your humor investment. Additionally, once a friend has fallen for a prank, they will want to see someone else placed in the same precarious position that they were just in to see how this new person will react. In this way, you can gradually build an audience to share and watch the fooling or humiliation of others with you.
Practical jokes and April Fools come in many shapes and sizes. Some require no planning and are performed spontaneously, while others can span days, weeks, or months. There is even an industry that caters to the desires of pranksters by selling ready-to-go-gags that can be found on the Internet or in novelty stores. While out of the box, prepackaged jokes can be great, some of the most rewarding shenanigans are often original pranks that have been developed while keeping in mind a specific person that you want to fool.
On this site you will find an excellent variety of jokes that run the gamut from very easy to pull off gags to more complex practical jokes that require a significant time investment, but all are feasible. Many of the jokes you will read about are either original pranks or use old gags in new ways. A fair amount of these pranks have also been played on me. In some instances I have changed names to protect the innocent and in others I have left them unchanged because I seriously hate their guts or don’t really care what happens to them. While not complete, these are some of my more favorite pranks, gags, and jokes that I have used to frighten, intimidate, harass, make fun of, shock, torture and torment my most loved (and hated) friends, roommates, family, coworkers and even the occasional stranger.
As you read through the jokes, please keep in mind that I have never deliberately set out to cause permanent psychological suffering on any of my prankees and avoid, if possible, creating enemies out of existing friends and acquaintances. In fact, I purposely avoid playing pranks on people who I do not believe would eventually appreciate the joke (again, except for strangers). Additionally, I try to save the best practical jokes for my good friends. I have found that one of the greatest rewards for having pulled off a fabulous prank is that you are able to reminisce with an old friend who was once your victim. Reminiscing with an old friend is hard to do if they no longer desire to speak with you. That is not to say you have to follow this path; if you want to humiliate your enemies or those who have done you wrong, I can understand that. Just remember that if a majority of the people you play jokes on can’t look back and laugh, you probably aren’t a practical joker, you are just a prick.
For those hardcore jokers that feel some of these pranks don’t go far enough to aggravate their victims (and I might agree with you), understand others who read it could feel some gags are too bastardly. In some cases, I had to tone down the description of the prank for decencies sake; in other words, my grandmother will be reading this. However, in other cases I may have slightly dressed the gag up because otherwise you wouldn’t laugh or cringe as hard as I want you to. My hope is that overall this will satisfy both tastes.