April 1, 2016 by T. Gregory Argall
Yes, it’s Prankapalooza, the annual festival of fools and fooling, the day when people play jokes on each other both practical and impractical, Alan Funt’s favourite point in the calendar year.
It’s April first.
Executing a prank is a bit of a balancing act. If you choose the right prank, one that’s clever and creative, amusing and intriguing, but ultimately does no harm, then everyone enjoys it. However, if you choose the wrong prank, one that’s complex and poorly thought out, blunt and terrifying, but ultimately creates no joy, then everyone hates you, limbs are possibly severed, and lawyers definitely become involved.
Many many years ago, when Saturday Night Live was in the midst of its second wave of being good, they did a spoof of Candid Camera. Joe Piscopo played Alan Funt and presented clips of “hilarious” pranks. A flame-heated fork burning tongues of people who ordered cheesecake in a New York diner; a blind man’s guide dog being replaced by a running pig; the reactions of school children upon being told that their parents were putting them up for adoption.
Harsh, cruel, and clearly false, it showed just how closely the original Candid Camera came to crossing the line between fun and assholery.
In my silly Molepeople webcomic I also addressed the issue of taking a prank too far.
I realize that I’m starting to seem like the Dad at the high school party, frantically running around putting coasters under everyone’s drinks and insisting that the music get turned down (again), but that’s not me. I’m not the “Turn down the music” Dad. I’m the “Turn up the music but just don’t break my shit” Dad.
I’m not an anti-prank ranter. I like pranks. I like seeing a good prank. I like commiting a good prank. I even enjoy being pranked.
But I’d rather be the subject of a prank and not the victim of a prank.
There is very little, if any, laughter involved in being a victim.
Every April Fools Day those whacky larks at Google take a couple of shots at pranking the world and they’re usually clever and funny. For instance, this year they gave us…
The nerds of cyber-retail at ThinkGeek also get into the game, presenting imaginative but unlikely products on the first of April. Sometimes it backfires on them and they find themselves forced by consumer demand to actually figure out how to make a functioning version of the ridiculous thing they pretended to offer. That is how the Personal Soundtrack Shirt was realized, as well as the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag.
For 2016 they are offering the Flavor-Of-The-Day Desk Calendar, a useless light switch, the VR Sensory Immersion Generator, and something called Plumbus.
Enjoy the day, revel in your “gotchas,” and always anticipate retaliation.
And try to be nice to each other.