Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

Blog Posts

The Royal Prank: Unintended Consequences

posted by
Filed under: Legal Issues, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, You Decide

The Royal Prank: The Story Behind The Worst Radio Stunt In History
by Andrew McMillen
Buzzfeed
Aug. 1, 2013

royalprank-425

When a pair of Australian DJs went viral by prank calling the London hospital treating Kate Middleton last December, they were lionized at home and vilified in the U.K. Then the nurse who answered the phone committed suicide amid the outrage, raising questions about mental health, privacy, and the very definition of a joke. What responsibility do pranksters have to their victims?

April Fool’s! Exploring Pranks and Practical Jokes, WNPR Interview

posted by
Filed under: Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The History of Pranks, What Makes a Good Prank?, Why Do a Prank?

WNPR News presents “April Fool’s! Exploring Pranks and Practical Jokes“, an hour long radio talk show broadcast April 1, 2014 at 1:00 pm & 8:00 pm EST.

spaghetti_harvest-425

Show features Jeff Pinsker, president of Klutz and VP of Scholastic, Inc.; Martin Wainwright, author of The “Guardian” Book of April Fool’s Day; Tom Mabe, a professional prankster living in Kentucky; and Joey Skaggs, multimedia artist in New York City called The World’s Greatest Hoaxer.

Listen here.

Kumaré: The True Story of a False Prophet

by
Filed under: Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The Big One

Submitted by Emerson Dameron:

American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi examines gurus and gullibility. In the process, he goes undercover as Kumaré, an enlightened spiritual leader from the East who develops a following in the West. His documentary The True Story of a False Prophet premiers in the US this summer. Read more here.


Movie Trailer:

(more…)

The Artiness of Naughtiness Radio Show

posted by
Filed under: Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

The Artiness of Naughtiness
BBC Radio
April 1, 2011

Toby Amies discovers how tricksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

Produced by Rob Alexander and hosted by Toby Amies, this 30:00 radio show is now available here for listening.

There are pranksters who have been determined to show us our folly all year round and most have philosophical, political and artistic reason to do so… Toby investigates this reasoning behind pranking – discovering why people will risk consequences as serious as prison to make a point or get a laugh. Sometime the motivation behind a prank is not always only a good laugh at someone else’s expense. It can be a very serious business.

The Artiness of Naughtiness

posted by
Filed under: Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Update, April 3, 2011: You can now listen to this 30:00 radio show here on Joey Skaggs’ website.


This radio show, produced by Rob Alexander, hosted by Toby Amies and featuring Joey Skaggs, among others, aired on BBC Radio Friday, April 1 at 11:30 a.m. UK time. You can listen to it on the BBC Radio site until April 7, 2011.


The Artiness of Naughtiness
Friday 1 April, 2011 at 11:30am on BBC Radio 4

Toby Amies discovers how tricksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

What have Jonathon Swift, Orson Welles, Marcel Duchamp, Yoko Ono, Malcolm Mclaren, Jeremy Beadle, and Sacha Baron Cohen got in common? Toby Amies discovers how tricksters and pranksters have turned the poking of fun into an art form.

Pranking is such a part of society, we’ve got a specially sanctioned day of misrule in the calendar. Mark Twain described the 1st of April as “the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year”. But for some people April Fool’s day is just not enough; generally opposed to the status quo, they are determined to alter our relationship with reality by forcing us to question its veracity.

There are pranksters who have been determined to show us our folly all year round and most have philosophical, political and artistic reason to do so.

Toby investigates this reasoning behind pranking – discovering why people will risk consequences as serious as prison to make a point or get a laugh. Sometime the motivation behind a prank is not always only a good laugh at someone else’s expense. It can be a very serious business.

Toby draws a wobbly line from the court jester to the hoaxes of Swift and Welles to Yves Klein to the playful Marxism[!] of Debord and the Situationsists, through to the commercial modern pranking industry and the work of Sacha Baron Cohen, Improv Everywhere, Jeremy Beadle and America’s king of the prank, Joey Skaggs.

A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4

Maxim Declares the Golden Age of the Prank

posted by
Filed under: Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

The Art of the Prank
by Spencer Morgan
Maxim.com
June 29, 2009

From coast to coast, intrepid bands of merrymakers are staging hoaxes, stunts, and practical jokes like never before. Welcome to the Golden Age of the Prank.

aert-of-prank-borat_articleThis is for participants only,” announces a heavily bundled Charlie Todd through his trusty gray bullhorn. “If you didn’t come to take your pants off today, you’re in the wrong spot.” It’s a frigid January afternoon in New York City’s Foley Square, and hundreds of fearless pranksters are braving the elements to get together and shed their trousers for the eighth annual “No Pants! Subway Ride.”

Todd, a baby-faced 30-year-old from Columbia, South Carolina, is the mastermind behind this gathering, and on his command the assembled crowd scatters for the nearest subway entrances…and collectively drops trou. Even in a city like New York, riding the subway sans pants is a guaranteed eye-opener, and today is no exception: Straphangers stare, chuckle, even take photos. Around 1,200 men and women have come out clad in boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, and bloomers, not just in New York, but in 21 cities across the globe. (“Three hundred take to the subway—shameless and pantless,” the Toronto Sun would inform its readers soberly the next day.) The mission ends with a group of agents celebrating in Union Square, making snow angels, still pantless. Improv Everywhere has struck again. Mission accomplished. (more…)

ADHD Investing

posted by
Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

Top 2009 Resolution: Don’t Be Stupid
by Daniel Henninger
Wall Street Journal
January 8, 2008

Bernard Madoff revealed our thoughtless ways.

adhd-investingBack in olden times, mankind found it useful to live by mottoes. A motto reduces the helpful lessons of life to three or four words, maybe two, as in the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Or, apropos now: Look before you leap.

The most famous motto in our time has been Google’s Don’t Be Evil. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but here’s a motto for the next four or five years: Don’t Be Stupid.

It would not have occurred to me to posit Don’t Be Stupid as a motto for our times had not 2008 ended with the Bernard Madoff story. Up to then, we were all preoccupied with the economic meltdown that began in mid-September with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other household gods of global finance.

The economic crisis, originating in the subprime mortgage lending phenomenon, was said to be complex. Madoff’s story, however, was simple. For years, uncounted numbers of the most sophisticated people here and in Europe conveyed to Mr. Madoff tens of billions of dollars because this solitary investor, unlike virtually every other professional investor, achieved returns in excess of 10% annually in all economic seasons. (more…)

The Gullibility Factor

posted by
Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

Why We Keep Falling for Financial Scams
by Stephen Greenspan
The Wall Street Journal
January 3, 2009

Intelligent people have long been ruined by frauds. Psychologist Stephen Greenspan, who specializes in gullibility, explores why investors continue to be swindled — and how he came to lose part of his savings to Bernard Madoff.

anatomyofgullibility

There are few areas where skepticism is more important than how one invests one’s life savings. Yet intelligent and educated people, some of them naïve about finance and others quite knowledgeable, have been ruined by schemes that turned out to be highly dubious and quite often fraudulent. The most dramatic example of this in American history is the recent announcement that Bernard Madoff, a highly regarded money manager and a former chairman of Nasdaq, has for years been running a very sophisticated Ponzi scheme, which by his own admission has defrauded wealthy investors, charities and other funds of at least $50 billion. (more…)

Pranks Psych 101

posted by
Filed under: Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, What Makes a Good Prank?, Why Do a Prank?

Submitted by Steffani Martin and Peter Maloney:

April Fool! The Purpose of Pranks
by Benedict Carey
New York Times
April 1, 2008

01mind3952-3.jpgKeep it above the belt, stop short of total humiliation and, if possible, mix in some irony, some drama, maybe even a bogus call from the person’s old flame or new boss. A good prank, of course, involves good stagecraft. But it also requires emotional intuition.

Psychologists have studied pranks for years, often in the context of harassment, bullying and all manner of malicious exclusion and prejudice.

Yet practical jokes are far more commonly an effort to bring a person into a group, anthropologists have found — an integral part of rituals around the world intended to temper success with humility. And recent research suggests that the experience of being duped can stir self-reflection in a way few other experiences can, functioning as a check on arrogance or obliviousness. (more…)

Why’d ya do it?

posted by
Filed under: Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

U-Turn, by Bruce BriersonAn interesting perspective on why some people think about taking a leap and other people actually do it…


Brian Lynch reviews U-Turn: What If You Woke Up One Morning and Realized You Were Living the Wrong Life? by Bruce Grierson, for www.straight.com.

Pranks Defined

by
Filed under: Definitions, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The Prank as Art

books_cov_prank.jpg

This definition of pranks is from V.Vale’s introduction to his formative book PRANKS, published in 1987 by RE/Search Publications. I’ve always loved this essay. He has graciously allowed us to reprint it here. In 2006, RE/Search Publications released a follow-up book called Pranks! 2 that is equally seminal in its approach to the subject -JS


PRANKS. According to the Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary, a prank is a “trick . . . a mildly mischievous act . . . a practical joke . . . a ludicrous act.” The best pranks invoke the imagination, poetic imagery, the unexpected and a deep level of irony or social criticism—such as Boyd Rice’s presentation of a skinned sheep’s head on a silver platter to Betty Ford, First Lady of the United States. Great pranks create synaesthetic experiences which are unmistakably exciting, original, and reverberating, as well as creative, metaphoric, poetic and artistic. If these criteria be deemed sufficient, then pranks can be considered as constituting an art form and genre in themselves.

However slighted by Academia, pranks are not without cultural and historical precedent. (more…)