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

An Obviously Fake Company Pretending To Pay Political Protestors is Invited to be Outted on Fox News

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Filed under: Political Pranks

After fake news about this fake company’s anti-Trump activities is embraced and spread by right wing agitators, Tucker Carlson invites the head of the group, radical activist Dom Tullipso (not his real name), to appear live on Fox News. Carlson apparently thinks he’s going to dazzle (aka publicly embarrass) the guy with all the ways in which Fox TV knows he’s a fake.

Instead, the prankster, who is clearly trying to be as absurd as possible, keeping the interview going as long as he can, while switching from being anti-Trump to pro-Trump, ends up making Carlson look ridiculous for grandstanding against something so obviously silly.

BoingBoing, January 12, 2017:
Obviously fake “paid protester” site sets right wing media aflutter

VOX, , January 18, 2017:
A prankster tried to troll Fox News live on air. It’s the strangest thing you’ll see on cable news

Watch the video posted by someone who clearly has a political ax to grind:

Snopes, January 18, 2017:
Demand Protest placed several ads seeking paid protesters in January 2017, but the “company” was not a legitimate one

Thank you Lori Dorn & Josh Seftel


Has a Trump Inauguration COINTELPRO been Trumped?

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

Activists sting James O’Keefe’s latest attempt at a 1960s FBI-style COINTELPRO.

COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

This is an unfolding story that needs more verification, but…


Is Project Veritas Conducting Political Hit Jobs for Donald Trump?
Rightwing operative caught offering money to protesters to stage violent disruption of the Trump inauguration, part of a pattern of attacks orchestrated against progressives by James O’Keefe, in coordination with Breitbart News and with the support of Donald Trump.


Produced by Lauren Windsor and Peter James Callahan.

Learn more about this here: Counter-Sting Catches James O’Keefe Network Attempting To Sow Chaos At Trump’s Inauguration, by Ryan Grim, Huffington Post, January 9, 2017

and here:

Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.
Project Veritas has been caught trying to pay liberal groups to break the law.

and…

A warning goes out to women attending the Women’s March on January 21, 2017

Creative Activism at the Library

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Media Literacy

Algorithms be damned! Power to the people! Library workers take the fate of automated inventory control into their own hands in a cheeky way.


Librarians Go Rogue In Devious Attempt To Save Books From Getting Tossed, Hilary Henson, Huffington Post, January 6, 2017

The scheme involves a fake patron named “Chuck,” who checked out thousands of books last year.

A Florida librarian has been fired after in connection with a scheme to create a fake patron to check out books.

Staff at the East Lake County Library say they were just trying to save books.

But one librarian has been fired in connection with a scheme involving the creation of a fake library patron who “checked out” more than 2,000 books over the last year, as first reported by the Orlando Sentinel. Read the rest of the article here.


Improv Everywhere: No Pants Subway 2017

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:

On Sunday, January 8th, 2017 tens of thousands of people took off their pants on subways in over 60 cities in over 25 countries around the world. In New York, our 16th Annual No Pants Subway Ride took place in windy 22F degree weather and was spread out over seven meeting points and eleven subway lines. Thanks to everyone who participated all around the globe! Enjoy the video!

Getting Off to a Good Start with Hollyweed

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Satire

Update January 5, 2016: Meet the Artist Behind the Cheeky Transformation of the Hollywood Sign


Hollywood sign altered to read “Hollyweed’ in apparent New Year’s Day prank
ABC7
by Leanne Suter and ABC7.com staff
January 1, 2017

HOLLYWOOD (KABC) — Hollywood residents awoke Sunday morning to find the iconic Hollywood sign had been altered to read “Hollyweed” in an apparent New Year’s Day prank.

The sign was vandalized about 3 a.m. by a male suspect who was recorded on surveillance video, said Lt. Guy Juneau of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Security Services Division.

Dressed in all black, the unidentified vandal scaled Mount Lee, made his way over a fence and then climbed onto each of the landmark’s “O” letters, the lieutenant said. He then draped those letters with black tarps so they each appeared as a lowercase “e.”

Read the whole story here.

Thanks Andrea!

Improv Everywhere: Random Parade Leader

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:


Random Parade Leader Wanted

Improv Everywhere: Random Parade

For our latest mission, a woman in a marching band uniform stands on the sidewalk with a sign that reads “Parade Leader Wanted.” When a stranger agrees to help out, a huge parade led by a marching band emerges from around the corner and follows him wherever he goes. The band plays “Jingle Bells” and is followed by a cast of characters that includes two yetis, Frosty the Snowman, and two guys holding giant flags that read “Random Parade.”

This mission was made possible by Caring Crowd, a crowd-funding platform where people come together to fund global health projects.

Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

Joey Skaggs on Fake News (and he should know)

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Propaganda and Disinformation

A master of fake news speaks. Published earlier today in Huffington Post, Joey muses on media literacy and the need for vigilant skepticism.


Fake News: The Relentless Pursuit of Mind Control
by Joey Skaggs
Huffington Post
November 29, 2016

Jojo, King of the New York Gypsies (a.k.a. Joey Skaggs), protesting to rename the Gypsy Moth in 1982


Jojo, King of the New York Gypsies (a.k.a. Joey Skaggs), protesting to rename the Gypsy Moth in 1982

The news media is all a-flutter with headlines about the rise and proliferation of fake news media: “Did Russia Install Donald Trump As the Next U.S. President?” “It’s About To Get Worse!” “Living in a Media Bubble” “Can American Democracy Survive?” Excuse me? Wait a minute…

Propaganda and disinformation have been an integral part of our daily dose of information forever. In essence, everywhere you look, whether it’s the allegedly trustworthy mainstream media or the not-so-trustworthy social media alt-right or left-trending news stories, someone is always peddling influence.

It wasn’t just the Russians who supposedly engaged in influencing election results by hacking emails and proliferating fake news that damaged the Democrats’ pursuit of the White House. Americans can’t play the innocent victims here. We’re all using the same propaganda techniques. Now, because of warp-speed Internet and social media delivery systems, we have a perpetual game of Propaganda Pong, and the onslaught is much more ruthless and, at the same time, highly profitable financially.

That’s what life is like these days. You’re either the provider or the recipient—or more likely both—of propaganda and disinformation.

Read the whole article here.


Cards Against Humanity Digs a Black Friday Hole

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

The team at Cards Against Humanity has a history of irreverent Black Friday stunts – we chatted with spokesman Max Temkin about the “Box of Bullshit” in 2014. 2016’s celebration involved a lot of money, a large hole, and that was pretty much it.


“Cards Against Humanity Threw $100,000 Into a Giant Hole Over Thanksgiving Weekend”
by Ed Mazza
The Huffington Post
November 28, 2016

583bdd691a00002500cc9fc0

Cards Against Humanity offered its own Black Friday special: Send them money, and they’ll use it to dig a hole.

“The holidays are here, and everything in America is going really well,” the company wrote on its Holiday Hole website. “To celebrate Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity is digging a tremendous hole in the earth.”

The website featured a live camera of the hole being dug as a ticker listed the donations as they came in, telethon-style.

The company raised just over $100,000, which was enough to keep the digging operation going until Sunday morning ― and from the videos posted online, it looks like they dug themselves quite a hole:

The FAQ on the website offers the company’s trademark humor:

Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?
Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.

Is the hole bad for the environment?
No, this was just a bunch of empty land. Now there’s a hole there. That’s life.

How am I supposed to feel about this?
You’re supposed to think it’s funny. You might not get it for a while, but some time next year you’ll chuckle quietly to yourself and remember all this business about the hole.

Cards Against Humanity is known for going against the flow on Black Friday.

Last year, they sold nothing at all ― for $5 a pop ― and earned more than $70,000. The year before that, they sold poop.


Did Fake News Skew the Presidential Election?

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Filed under: Literary Hoaxes, Media Literacy, Prank News, Pranksters

Among the myriad of influences on the presidential election results, a prominent and pervasive force has been fake news, propagated by unscrupulous merchants seeking traffic via social media. Here’s a quasi-confession of one such voice.

Here also, from NYMag.com is “An Extremely Helpful List of Fake and Misleading News Sites to Watch Out For“.


Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me’
by Caitlin Dewey
Washington Post
November 17, 2016

imrs-sm

What do the Amish lobby, gay wedding vans and the ban of the national anthem have in common? For starters, they’re all make-believe — and invented by the same man.

Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years. He has twice convinced the Internet that he’s British graffiti artist Banksy; he also published the very viral, very fake news of a Yelp vs. “South Park” lawsuit last year.

But in recent months, Horner has found the fake-news ecosystem growing more crowded, more political and vastly more influential: In March, Donald Trump’s son Eric and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, even tweeted links to one of Horner’s faux-articles. His stories have also appeared as news on Google.

In light of concerns that stories like Horner’s may have affected the presidential election, and in the wake of announcements that both Google and Facebook would take action against deceptive outlets, Intersect called Horner to discuss his perspective on fake news. This transcript has been edited for clarity, length and — ahem — bad language. ” target=”_blank”>Read more

Improv Everywhere: Declare Your Love

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:


Declare Your Love

share_the_love

For our latest mission, we constructed a custom wooden lectern with a megaphone holster and an attached sign that read, “Declare Your Love.” The lectern was placed at the corner of 6th Avenue and 42nd Street at the entrance to Bryant Park and then left alone. We wanted to see what would happen if New Yorkers were given the opportunity to amplify their voices and declare their love.

Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

More from Improv Everywhere:

We Are Movie Geeks Interview: Joey Skaggs – Subject of ART OF THE PRANK

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Filed under: Art of the Prank - the movie, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters, The Prank as Art

SLIFF 2016 Interview: Joey Skaggs – Subject of ART OF THE PRANK
by Tom Stockman
We Are Movie Geeks
November 2, 2016

artoftheprankatsliff

ART OF THE PRANK offers a hilarious and provocative profile of New York artist Joey Skaggs, the godfather of the media hoax. Famed for such media fictions as the Celebrity Sperm Bank, the Cathouse for Dogs, the Fat Squad, and the Portofess (a mobile confessional booth) — all reported as fact by reputable journalists — the prankster qualifies as one of America’s greatest living satirists. Chronicling the most demanding hoax of Skaggs’ career, filmmaker Andrea Marini provides privileged access to the thoughts and actions of this most unconventional man, following the evolution of an artist who has dedicated his life to seeking social change by relentlessly challenging the status quo. With unprecedented access to Skaggs and his archives, the documentary reveals the man behind the curtain, interweaving his current unfolding hoax with a look behind the scenes at some of his classic performance pieces. The New York Observer calls the film “an upbeat summary of decades of mischief” and “an intimate portrait of an earnest man earnestly engaged in the business of tomfoolery.”

Joey Skaggs took the time to talk to We Are Movie Geeks about ART OF THE PRANK.


Election 2016: The Laughter Has Died

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Filed under: Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

It may be paying their bills, but the writers for The Onion are just as sick of this dumpster-fire election as the rest of us. Thanks to Scott Beale for the link.


“How To Satirize This Election? Even The Onion Is Having Trouble”
by Sarah Lyall
The New York Times
November 4, 2016

05onion-1-superjumboNow that it’s almost over and we’re all thoroughly miserable, is there anything funny left to say about this dreadful election? Even the writers at the satirical website The Onion were struggling the other morning to come up with fresh avenues of amusement.

Lounging around the writers’ room, they listened to the editor in chief, Cole Bolton, read from a list of potential headlines they had submitted for consideration. Some of them were pretty funny – “Trump Tells Supporters Next Stop in Movement Is Buying Luxury Condos,” for instance, and “Clinton Vows Complete Transparency for Remaining 6 Days of Campaign” — but by the end of the meeting, only three out of 48 had been selected as worthy of turning into an item for the site. A kind of comic fatigue seemed to be setting in.

“We feel like we’ve passed every single stage of despair, hopelessness and rage,” Mr. Bolton said. “This last week is just us strafing to find new angles, to put into words how horrible this experience has been.”

It’s not that The Onion, which began as a campus humor magazine at the University of Wisconsin in 1988 and went all-digital at the end of 2013, has not faced dismaying events before. Its specialty is finding satire even in topics seemingly impossible to satirize. “God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule” was its headline for a post-9/11 article in which a despairing God rails at the moronic nature of his creation. Keep reading.

Snopes Checks In on the Facebook Standing Rock Check-in Trend

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Fact or Fiction?, Legal Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, You Decide

Our friends at Snopes have their hands full these days, but hubbub around the Standing Rock Facebook check-ins got too big for them to ignore.


“DAPL Radar”
by Kim LaCapria
Snopes
October 31, 2016

A viral Facebook status update urged users to check in at Standing Rock in order to prevent the Morton County Sheriff’s Department from geotargeting DAPL protesters.

AOTPStandingRockProtests

Example: [Collected via e-mail, October 2016]

This popped up on my Facebook newsfeed today, any idea as to its validity? It seems like Facebook “share spam” but I’m curious if there’s any element of truth.

“The Morton County Sherriff’s Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Randing Stock in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps. So, Water Protectors are calling on EVERYONE to check in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them. This is concrete action that can protect people putting their bodies and well-beings on the line that we can do without leaving our homes.
Will you join me in Standing Rock?
If you’re sharing your location at Randing Stock (which you should be doing)
1) make it public
2) make the clarification post separate, and so that only your friends can see it
3) don’t clarify on your check in, message friends who say “stay safe!” to let them know what’s up — the stay safe posts are more convincing / confusing for p*lice
4) copy paste to share clarification messages (like this one) because making it public blows our cover
5) say “Randing Stock” in clarification posts so that when they filter out / search those terms, your post is visible to the right people”


Hey,

I saw this and I’m slightly confused by why this would help disrupt police action. My theory is that this is a message meant for people actually there protesting not the Facebook community at large. Protestors are probably posting at unique locations/ tribe grounds they get to. Instead of doing that, this message is for them, telling them to keep their location general. Adding in the Facebook mass is just an added touch to show support for the action against DPL.

Origin:On 31 October 2016, a viral Facebook status meme began circulating, claiming that the Morton County Sheriff’s Department was using Facebook check-ins to target and disrupt prayer camps at Standing Rock protests.

The rumor involved a two-part status update, along with a message that the actions described would “confuse” or “overwhelm” police officers in their purported attempts to target individual demonstrators… Read more.

How Your Fake Right-Wing News Gets Made

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation, Satire

Fake news sites have been booming this year, and well before that. But the name “RealTrueNews” probably should have tipped off someone.


“This ‘Conservative News Site’ Trended on Facebook, Showed Up on FOX News – and Duped the World”
by Ben Collins
The Daily Beast
October 27, 2016

aotprealtruenewsMarco Chacon had only spent about $20 on his conservative news website, RealTrueNews, when he heard his words in prime time on Fox News’ The Kelly File.

“Yeah,” Chacon said. “That was an accident.”

Just as he’d done for the last few months, Chacon had read the latest explosive conservative news—this time it was Hillary Clinton’s leaked speeches to Wall Street banks—and typed up an imagined transcript of his own.

“So in the transcript, she’s explaining Bronies to the Goldman Sachs board of directors,” said Chacon. “Do you know what Bronies are?”

Bronies are hard-core, usually adult fans of the cartoon My Little Pony.

“In this one, [Bronies] are part of a threat of subalterns who are going to take over the election. And people believe all this,” he said. “And I’m just… I’m telling people, ‘How can you believe this!?’”

Somewhere in the middle of that block of text about My Little Pony, Chacon’s transcript contained the phrase “bucket of losers,” attributed, falsely of course, to Clinton, which legitimate conservative news websites picked up as real.

Sure enough, by 9 p.m. that day, Trace Gallagher was on Fox News telling viewers that Clinton had “apparently called Bernie Sanders supporters a ‘bucket of losers.’” (Megyn Kelly later apologized after the Clinton campaign vehemently denied Clinton said it.)

Taking official-looking documents at face value isn’t just burgeoning among alt-right media. It’s a tactic now endorsed by the Republican candidate for president. Keep reading.

Voter Intimidation Shenanigans Exposed

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Legal Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation

Here’s an inside look at the bullying and election fraud Donald Trump’s buddy Roger Stone had in mind for “certain areas.” Also, check out this really good guide to ways to prevent you from voting and what you should do about it.


“Trump Loyalists Planned Voter Intimidation Using Fake ID Badges, Fake Exit Polling – Until HuffPost Asked Them About It”
by Christina Wilkie
Huffington Post
October 25, 2016

aotpvoteprotectorsVote Protectors, the anti-voter-fraud group hosted by Donald Trump ally and political dirty trickster Roger Stone, plans to send volunteers to monitor polling places in nine cities with high minority populations on Election Day, Stone said last week. Untrained poll-watchers have intimidated voters in previous elections. But Vote Protectors is going further than its predecessors.

Stone’s group created an official-looking ID badge for its volunteers to wear, and its volunteers planned to videotape voters and conduct fake “exit polls,” efforts that election experts say risks intimidating and confusing voters. Or at least that’s what the group was planning to do before The Huffington Post asked Stone about it on Tuesday. The controversial Trump ally, long known for his bare-knuckled political tactics, said that key proposals on his group’s websites were there without his knowledge, and assured HuffPost that he would operate within the confines of election law.

Stone had initially refused to explain just how Vote Protectors planned to accomplish its goals. So on Monday, The Huffington Post responded to the group’s request for additional volunteers to work as “Exit Pollers and Citizen Journalists.”

Once registered, HuffPost used the site’s “I.D. Badge Generator” to create this badge, which could pass for an official credential to people unfamiliar with polling signage and rules. Read more.