What Makes a Good Prank?

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Joey Skaggs to the NY Daily News, “You Gotta Realize There Are Consequences”

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Filed under: Hoax Etiquette, How to Pull Off a Prank, Legal Issues, Prank News, Pranksters, What Makes a Good Prank?

Call us snobs, sticklers… call us the Emily Post of prankdom. But releasing a bunch of live crickets in a crowded subway car, as Brooklyn’s Zadia Pugh was recently arrested for doing, isn’t much of a prank. When there is so much groupthink and hypocrisy to expose and so many passersby thirst for wonder and delight, it’s not enough to simply scare and annoy people. That’s a sad and boring way to go viral. People are plenty scared and annoyed as it is.

Legendary prankster Joey Skaggs was asked to comment on Pugh’s stunt and to lend some guidance to cavalier young instigators of her ilk. Irreverence is just the beginning.


“Seasoned prankster Joey Skaggs chides rookie Zadia Pugh for unleashing crickets on packed D train: ‘You gotta realize there are consequences'”
by Graham Rayman
New York Daily News
September 3, 2016

crickets4n-2-webAs a prankster, Zaida Pugh — who terrified straphangers in August when she released live crickets on a packed subway train — is no more than a misguided rookie.

And Joey Skaggs should know.

For the past 40 years, Skaggs, 70, a New Yorker who now lives “somewhere in the south,” has conned the media into reporting fake stories as fact.

His elaborate pranks include creating a brothel for dogs and posing as a man who invented a vitamin pill made of cockroaches which supposedly would make people invulnerable to radiation.

The press bought it.

He got the press to buy that he had windsurfed from Hawaii to California. He created a Celebrity Sperm Bank, and a “Fat Squad,” made up of commandos who supposedly physically restrained people from breaking their diets.

He unrepentantly posed as a priest and pedaled a full-size confessional booth around St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and got on the news for that, too.

Author Andrea Juno once wrote that he “uses the media as a painter uses a canvas.”

crickets4n-4-webSkaggs told the Daily News on Saturday even though Pugh claimed to be making a statement about homelessness, her stunt on the Manhattan Bridge on Aug. 24 was “irresponsible and dangerous.”

“To me, the expose’ is the most important part,” he said. “It’s not the ‘hahaha, I got you.’ It’s the ‘Aha.’ When they realize they have put aside critical thinking.

“The goal is to get people to become more media literate and more skeptical about information that’s given to them by governments and corporations. And you have to be ethical and careful in going about it.” Read more.


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

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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.

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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.

Art of the Hoax – Joey Skaggs on PRI

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Definitions, Media Literacy, The Prank as Art, What Makes a Good Prank?, Why Do a Prank?

Jester_waitscmMarch 30, 2014: Pranks and Hoaxes, produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed by Public Radio International, presents an interview with Joey Skaggs called Art of the Hoax – Joey Skaggs.

Listen here

Lucky Loser: My aborted attempt to kidnap Sam Shepard

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Filed under: The History of Pranks, What Makes a Good Prank?

A reminiscence by Joey Skaggs:


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On April 2, 2013, I received an email from my friend Peter Maloney, director, writer, actor and a co-conspirator in my hoaxes, pointing me to a New York Times article about a fake kidnapping. He said,

“It reminds me of the night that you and your cohorts kidnapped Sam Shepard from the Astor Place Theatre on the opening night performance of his plays ‘The Unseen Hand’ and ‘Forensic and the Navigator’ (in which I played ‘Forensic’). I also remember that actor Beeson Carroll wore as his costume in ‘The Unseen Hand’, your Buffalo skin coat.”

I had caught the news story about the kidnapping on TV a day earlier. I immediately thought it was a prank. A video taken from a surveillance camera showed an abduction with people being thrown into a van on the street. But local police could not find evidence of anyone missing. As it turned out, it was a joke played by friends as a birthday prank.

Stories like this sometimes make it into the Art of the Prank blog, and I considered it. But, being under the weather I wasn’t highly motivated to do anything with it. Later, thinking about it, I realized how lucky these pranksters were. They could have been shot. They could have been arrested. Any number of bad things potentially could have happened because of this relatively harmless joke.

Peter’s email and this story inspired me to tell the story of my attempt to kidnap Sam Shepard, a version of which appears in a book by Ellen Ounamo called Sam Shepard: The Life and Work of an American Dreamer (1986, St. Martins Press). (more…)

Joey Skaggs at Advertising Week EU 2013

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, What Makes a Good Prank?

More coverage:

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  • Mark Borkowski on Joey Skaggs – ‘the world’s biggest prankster’, The Drum
  • Joey Skaggs: novelty silliness and well-packaged rebellion, New Statesman
  • Joey Skaggs on “Loose Ends”, BBC Radio4 – Only two days left to listen
  • Fool School: The Art of the Perfect Prank

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    Filed under: Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art, What Makes a Good Prank?

    Update, April 3, 2011: You can now listen to this 30:00 radio show here.


    The Artiness of Naughtiness, hosted by Toby Amies, aired on BBC Radio 4 on Friday, April 1, 2011. Until April 7, 2011, you can listen to it here.


    The art of the perfect prank
    by Toby Amies
    BBC News Magazine
    30 March 2011

    As April Fools jokers hatch their plans, what’s the secret to a perfect prank, asks broadcaster Toby Amies. And how far do the very best tricksters go in preparing their practical jokes?

    This article is not a hoax. I promise you. It’s a serious work about the practical joke.

    How far would you go to pull off a prank? The dole queue? In 1987, a young British broadcaster called Chris Morris let off helium into the BBC Bristol studio, causing the newsreader’s stories to reach a higher and higher pitch. Chris lost his job. And started his career in satire.

    Would you risk prison? Pranks are often protests, against unfairness or authority or reality. And protest is increasingly risky in the 21st Century.

    As the film director Billy Wilder said: “If you are going to tell people the truth, be funny or they will kill you.”

    Whether personal or public, the prank has a point to make, but if you’re planning on tricking someone, it’s best to ensure everyone gets the joke. (more…)

    Pranks Psych 101

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    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…)

    The Writing is on the Wall

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    Filed under: Hoax Etiquette, What Makes a Good Prank?

    from katra.vox.com

    From: katra.vox.com

    On the other hand… what not to do:

    A 13 year old boy was arrested and held without bail on suspicion of making a criminal threat after he allegedly wrote “Shooting Friday” as a prank on a bathroom wall at his school in Vista, California. Read the story here.

    What not to do…

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    Filed under: What Makes a Good Prank?

    National Gallery of VictoriaUpdate to this story:
    From AAP (Australia AP) via NEWS.com.au
    April 16, 2007:

    Judge Leo Hart today jailed Barnett for 15 months, with 12 months suspended for 15 months.

    He said it was a “bizarre” case and that Barnett had the dual aim of getting recognition for his work and sending an anti-terrorism message.

    “You’re an artist and believe yourself to be a good artist,” Judge Hart said.

    “You believed that you had not been given the recognition that your work deserved and you sought to rectify this.”

    Judge Hart said Barnett’s motives were not malicious but his behaviour was stupid and reckless.

    He ordered Barnett to pay $6319 compensation to the police.

    Original post:
    From AAP via The Herald Sun
    April 4, 2007:

    A frustrated artist who wanted recognition for his work has pleaded guilty to creating a bomb hoax outside the National Gallery of Victoria.

    Colin Douglas Barnett, 46, of suburban Cranbourne North, today pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to one count each of creating a bomb hoax and causing a public nuisance, and two counts of making a false report to police. (more…)

    The Well Cooked Journalist: A Traditional Recipe

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    Filed under: Instructionals, Media Pranks, Pranksters, What Makes a Good Prank?

    Joey Skaggs by Tomo Lavric

    “Is it not an art to deceive a trout with an artificial fly?” Walton

    This delicious recipe for catching and cooking a journalist has been thoroughly tested. It features easy to find ingredients.

    This is a very satisfying meal and although I have prepared it many times, one should not be concerned about repeating it too often. There are many ways to change the recipe and the results will always be pleasing. (more…)

    Referenz Wichtige Verbindung mac office paket www.gutenberg-gym.de www.gutenberg-gym.de