The World of the Prank

The artist as social provocateur and activist incorporates humor, satire, irony, political commentary and/or direct action to provoke critical thinking. Pranks challenge convention and the status quo and expose prejudices and biases.

Blog Posts

Improv Everywhere: Ballroom Crosswalk

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere: Pedestrians in a busy New York city crosswalk suddenly begin ballroom dancing.

Ballroom Crosswalk

For our latest mission, pedestrians in a busy New York crosswalk begin ballroom dancing one by one as they “accidentally” bump into their partners. This project took place on the crosswalk in front of Penn Station on 7th Avenue, one of the busiest spots in the city. We staged the mission several times, with the performance repeating at each change of the light and always finishing before the “Don’t Walk” countdown clock reached zero.


For this project we put out a call to our NYC mailing list looking for ballroom dancers. For the most part participants didn’t know each other before this project, though some participated with their dance partners. We had one loose rehearsal just to walk through the logistics and make sure everyone was comfortable with the idea and their partners.

It was a great spot because there was always a healthy crowd of people coming to and from Penn Station. Each time we staged it, 95% of the people around us were seeing it for the first time. We noticed a few people who stuck around, hoping to see it again. The best reactions came from those in the crosswalk who got caught up in it as it started. Some folks were in a hurry, rushing to catch their train, but most everyone did a double take and smiled. I had a blast watching it from the sideline.

This project was a collaboration with YouTube’s new Field Day channel. Check out our video on the Field Day channel that features parts of this mission as well as our Groundskeeper Acrobats and Unexpected Ballet missions.

Created and Directed by Charlie Todd / Produced by: Deverge. For more information and photos, visit here.

Art of the Prank Movie is About to Launch!

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Filed under: Art of the Prank - the movie, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Prank News, Pranksters

Art of the Prank movie still

We’re excited!

Art of the Prank, the feature documentary film about the life and work of artist Joey Skaggs, produced and directed by Andrea Marini and co-produced by Judy Drosd, is nearing completion. Filmed in New York, London, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Kentucky & Tennessee, the movie, a story of true will and determination, follows Joey as he attempts to pull off the most challenging media hoax of his career.

The movie website is now live at
The Facebook and Twitter pages are respectively at:

Here’s the teaser trailer:

The plan is to submit the film to film festivals around the world and to begin showing it widely. We’re open to all forms of distribution so please share any ideas you have with us. You are very important to the success of this film. The more that our friends and colleagues spread the word, the more opportunities we’ll have to grow an audience. We’d love to have as many people see the film as possible.

There will be more news soon about some exciting screenings this Fall.

Comedy/Art: You Gotta Be Kidding!

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Satire

From Dino D’Annibale:

On Trend:Marina Abramovic, Meet Chelsea Handler? How Standup Comedy Became the New Performance Art
by Chloe Wyma
August 28, 2015

No longer at the margins of the art world, practitioners combining art and comedy are now attracting critical buzz and institutional recognition.

Dynasty Handbag

Dynasty Handbag

“Tonight I have cooked up—let me use your language—‘curated’ a show tonight,” the artist Jibz Cameron joked in the opening monologue of “Good Morning Good Evening Feelings,” her one-woman motivational variety show at the Kitchen last April. Cameron, performing as her spandex-clad, rubber-faced alter ego Dynasty Handbag, wore pancake makeup and an ill-fitting fluorescent pink satin waistcoat over a flesh-colored unitard. “I hope no one was thinking they were gonna see art,” she goaded the audience. “Are there art people here?” The ensuing lighting-fast hour included a lesson in how to make a smoothie out of immaterial fears and anxieties, an incoherent karaoke rendition of Madonna’s “Vogue,” and an interview with Womanhood (personified by a British-accented cartoon crotch in white panties.)

Cameron’s performances, which draw liberally from the conventions of standup comedy, are undeniably funny—but they also represent a new hybrid art form. From Jaimie Warren’s bizarre vaudeville to Jayson Musson (a.k.a Hennessy Youngman’s) viral Youtube sendups of art world orthodoxies with a dose of hip-hop swagger, contemporary art and alternative comedy have never been more intertwined. In certain cases, they’re indistinguishable.

Watch the Hennessy Youngman video

“It’s a cultural zeitgeist thing. I think standup is having an interesting moment, a kind of renaissance,” says Jill Dawsey, curator of the recent “Laugh In: Art Comedy Performance” at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. She counts experimental comics Maria Bamford and Reggie Watts among those who have expanded the genre to embrace unprecedented weirdness. “There’s this formal kinship where there are more experimental comedic acts that resemble performance art, and then there are a lot of artists who are doing something more like standup comedy.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Hanksy Takes a Trump

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Satire

Artist “Hanksy” shares his opinion of the front-running GOP candidate:


Also, check out Hanksy’s recent tour of Detroit and its graffiti:
“Surplus Candy” :: Episode 2 :: DETROIT

Watch the video

via HuffPo

Mickey Mouse is Mourning

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Pranksters, Satire

Banksy’s Dismaland website is up. Includes full details and schedules.


Thanks Chris

Why Hollywood Culture’s Outspoken (Fake) Mystery Critics Threw in the Towel Remains a Mystery

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Literary Hoaxes, Pranksters

Twitter’s ‘Mystery Hollywood’ implodes: @MysteryExec was a fake
by Josh Dickey
August 20, 2015

@MysteryExec, @MysteryVP Thumbnails

@MysteryExec, @MysteryVP thumbnails

The Twitter handle @MysteryExec, the most prominent voice in a small and tight-knit community of showbiz types who for years have tweeted anonymously, candidly and often about their batshit crazy profession, deleted his account sometime late Tuesday night. So did his sidekick, the tart-tongued @MysteryVP.

The reason: Mystery Executive is not an executive at all. Mystery VP is vice president of nothing.

They were catfish. And that’s too bad.

Multiple sources close to the people behind the accounts tell Mashable that @MysteryExec and @MysteryVP were a young male/female writing duo just trying to make it in Hollywood whose prank turned into a mini-phenomenon. What started as an outlet for their frustration turned into a movement that thousands of people, including this writer and dozens of prominent players in Hollywood, readily bought into.

And in recent months, as the ruse began to unravel, the entire Mystery showbiz-on-Twitter community began to crumble, too.

Read the whole story here.

Banksy’s Dismaland Theme Park Opens

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Satire, The Prank as Art

Channel 4 News reports, August 20, 2016:

Banksy’s “family theme park unsuitable for small children” has opened on the Weston-super-Mare seafront. It features migrant boats, dead princesses and Banksy’s trademark dark humour.

The park features Banksy’s artistry as well as works by 50 other artists including Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer.

Buzzfeed published these photos:

Banksy's Dismaland: Little Mermaid

Dismaland is a five-week show housed inside and around a derelict Tropicana building in Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town in Somerset, England. Photo by Christopher Jobson for Colossal

Banksy's Dismaland theme park Seaworld-like attraction. Christopher Jobson for Colossal

Banksy’s Dismaland theme park Seaworld-like attraction. Christopher Jobson for Colossal

Banksy's tanker truck disaster at Dismaland. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Tanker truck disaster in Banksy’s Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Grim reaper on bumper cars at Banksy's Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Grim reaper on bumper cars at Banksy’s Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Radio controlled refugee boat game at Banksy's Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Radio controlled refugee boat game at Banksy’s Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Pigeon hazard at Banksy's Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Pigeon hazard at Banksy’s Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Banksy’s theme? According the BBC he said, “”I guess you’d say it’s a theme park whose big theme is ‘theme parks should have bigger themes’.”

Read more about what Banksy describes as a “family theme park unsuitable for children” at and at Huffington Post.

Is There a Banksy-made Disneyland Parody On the Way?

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody

Inside ‘Dismaland’: Banksy’s Sinister Disney-Trolling Theme Park Reportedly Opening This Weekend
The Daily Beast
August 17, 2015

The shadowy street artist has allegedly been constructing a massive pop-up theme park under the guise of filming a Hollywood movie, and it’s rumored to open August 21 in the UK.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 9.10.36 PM

This past weekend at their annual D23 Expo, a veritable Comic-Con devoted to all things Mouse House, Disney unveiled plans for Star Wars Land—a pair of elaborate theme parks that will transport visitors to the land(s) of Star Wars, replete with a Millennium Falcon simulator, a plethora of cosplaying characters, and—yes—a full-service Cantina.

But if getting wasted on intergalactic booze, starting static with a costumed Greedo, and throwing your hard-earning money at a corporate giant isn’t your thing, then perhaps Dismaland is the place for you.

Dismaland is the name of Banksy’s gloriously subversive theme park that is heavily rumored to be opening this weekend—that is Friday, August 21—in the UK. Pictures of its mysterious construction in the seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England, began surfacing online late last week.

Read the whole article here.

Mike Huckabee Won’t Give You a Choice

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Satire, The Big One

From Erin:

Mike Huckabee guitar lessons

Inside the Center for Tactical Magic

Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Here’s a rare glimpse behind the enigma of the legendary Center for Tactical Magic as founder Aaron Gach shares his background, philosophy, and success stories in this interview with Regine Debatty.

“Interview with The Center for Tactical Magic”
by Regine Debatty
We Make Money Not Art
August 14, 2015

The Center for Tactical Magic uses any craft and scheme available, from the most magical to the most pragmatic, to address issues of power relations and self-empowerment.

At the CTM we are committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation.

Tactical Ice Cream Unit

CTM’s work combines appealing aesthetics, humour and language with actions that invite people to think, question and reclaim their civil rights. Their most famous project is the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, a truck distributing free ice cream along with propaganda developed by local progressive groups. Another of their initiative saw them launch a bank heist contest. And a year before that, they responded to New York’s stop-and-frisk policy by screening Linking & Unlinking on a digital billboard in Manhattan. The billboard showed amateur footage demonstrating how to pick a pair of handcuffs, magicians performing a classic magic trick called “linking rings“, while a text from the American Civil Liberties Union was scrolling down and explaining passersby what their rights were if they were stopped by the police. In 2013, they set up big Witches’ Cradles that evoke the Inquisition and enveloped people into an altered state (of consciousness, or an altered political state). Most recently, Gach directed and performed a radical magic show which drew parallels between magic acts and contemporary issues such as economic manipulation, political deception, vanishing resources, and social transformation.

Read the interview here.

Austerity Art in Athens

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Filed under: Creative Activism

Street artists in Athens are expressing their economic concerns and frustration with vivid imagery:






See more images from Huff Post Greece.

Jester as Publicist

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts

Tourism promotion 101: Anoint a court jester for your castle.

Welsh Castle Appoints First Jester Since 13th Century
by Kira Brekke
HuffPost Live
August 5, 2015

Why, you ask? Why not?

The job of a jester — also known as a professional joker or “fool,” for all you plebeians out there — has been mostly left behind in medieval history. But the post has been resurrected thanks to Conwy Castle in Wales, which has just pointed its first jester since the 13th century. HuffPost Live’s Josh Zepps spoke to the jester himself, Russel Erwood (or “Erwyd le Fol”), about how such a position was bestowed upon him and what we can expect from him and his jesterly ways in the coming months.

Mad Magazine’s Upcoming Homage to the U.S. Political Process

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Filed under: Parody, Satire

Coming soon… Mad magazine’s August 12, 2015 issue transforms 2016 presidential candidates into the entertainment fodder they seem to aspire to be. Here’s a sample:

Mad magazine's Hillary Clinton poster

Mad magazine's Ben Carson poster

Mad magazine's Donald Trump poster

Mad magazine's Bernie Sanders poster

Mad magazine's Jeb Bush poster

via Huffington Post

Improv Everywhere’s Unexpected Ballet

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:

Improv Everywhere's "Unexpected Ballet"

For our latest mission, professional ballet performers pose as break dancers in New York’s Washington Square Park. The men hype up their tumbling routine to a gathered crowd before realizing they brought the “wrong music.” The crowd is surprised as they slowly realize the performer’s hidden talents.

Watch the video:

This project was a collaboration with YouTube’s new Field Day channel. For more info and photos, visit Improv Everywhere.

Brian Janosch on Tech, Comedy, Bay Area Cynicism, and the Burning Man Wall

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Pranksters, Satire

As much as we love Burning Man and the creativity on display there, we also have to admire this piece of now-viral satire from the folks at Cultivated Wit.
Unlike most anti-Burner temper tantrums, it doesn’t stick to low-hanging fruit-–it also pokes pointed fun at crowdfunding, techno-libertarian utopianism, and economic tensions in the Bay Area.

Brian Janosch, the Creative Director of Cultivated Wit and the star of the spoof video told us that, despite the rash of media coverage the Burning Man Wall has received, this is the first time he’s been asked for an interview about it.

What is Cultivated Wit and what does it do?

Well, one thing we are not is a comedy troupe. 😉 We’re a small company created by three of us who all left The Onion around the same time. The biggest thing we do is produce Comedy Hack Day, an event series that brings together comedians and developers to build hilarious and insane tech products. The best creations from every event get showcased in a comedy show that concludes each event weekend. Our about page is a little outdated and needs refreshing, but it has some more.

Why is Burning Man such a fat target?