Practical Jokes and Mischief

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TV News Pranks Lead to Litigation

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Legal Issues, Media Literacy, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

It’s 2018, and TV news is apparently more relevant and dangerous than ever. Learn more about our old pals Chop and Steele with the Vice News team.


“Meet the Comedy Duo Who Got Sued for Pranking the News”
By Oliver Noble and Brandon Lisy
Vice News
March 22, 2018

When they infiltrated three morning news programs by passing themselves off as a hilariously unathletic strongman duo, Brooklyn comedians Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett were not the first people to prank TV News.

Left-leaning activists The Yes Men famously infiltrated BBC, and right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe unsuccessfully attempted to plant a false story in the Washington Post. But Prueher and Pickett, who run the Found Footage Festival, have no overt political agenda and are happy to simply interrupt news programming with the absurd or profane.

Out of embarrassment or pragmatism, media companies generally avoid legal retaliation after getting pranked. Yet when Prueher and Pickett pranked Gray Television, the company sued, kicking off a battle over free speech, comedy, and how easy it can be get past TV bookers. Read more.

April Fools’ Day 2018: Stunt Roundup

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Filed under: All About Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Literacy, Parody, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Satire, The History of Pranks, The World of the Prank

The smirking array of pranks, stunts, and fake marketing drives has become a predictable April Fool’s Day rite. Our finest brands and capital-C Creative Teams use this opportunity to trot out wacky ideas and to attempt to out-clever each other in a quest for attention.

You can set your sundial by it, but that’s no reason, in itself, to complain. Plenty of brand-based April Fool’s japes are entertaining, and a few pack genuinely subversive elements.

Sunday finds the virtual prank parade already in progress. The clowns have been rolling out all week, in acknowledgement of the holiday schedule, and probably as part of a phenomenon similar to Christmas Creep, in which April Fool’s Day threatens to slowly engulf more and more of the year.

There are few unique challenges against which this year’s festival of cleverness must contend. April Fool’s Day falls on a Sunday, and on the Easter holiday, widely observed in nations where influential marketers and media entities are based. It also falls against a background characterized by extreme distrust and hostility toward advertisers, Silicon Valley tech giants, and a political climate in which the US presidential administration’s most favored PR approach resembles gaslighting. Increasingly, the media treat April Fool’s brand stunts with outward cynicism and exhaustion.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica controversy that is grinding away at Facebook, tech brands face a tough room this year. Google, in particular, has always embraced cheeky self-awareness in its pranks, a winking sense of, “everyone seems to think we’re going to control the world someday – and wouldn’t it be kind of neat if we did?” This year’s battery of GOOG yuks, including a “bad joke detector” and an API for different varieties of hummus, acknowledges the inherent absurdity of Google’s algorithmic, data-driven approach to world domination. Google’s work is state-of-the-art in terms of creative skill, but it feels at least few weeks behind the times.

In the Scott Dikkers taxonomy of jokes, irony and parody are hard to make stick in 2018. Gentle absurdity, wordplay, and “madcap” humor may be an easier plan.

Coinciding with Easter Sunday may make it harder to nab eyeballs, but some brands are using it to their advantage. The Chocolate Whopper is one of many gags that draws ridiculous associations with holiday sweets. Following up the success of the emoji car horn, one of the most charming 2017 stunts, Honda returns with another winning exercise in pure silliness. One tech company simply gave a crapload of money to people who need it, which may be the most heartwarming and unorthodox 4/1 tactic on record.

In the non-commercial realm, artists and social critics are addressing the elephant in the room, head on. From anonymous Craigslist pranksters to our own head honcho Joey Skaggs and his annual April Fool’s Day parade, there’s plenty of puckish and ambitious parody directed at Trump and his inherently ridiculous milieu.

Arguably, the best thing that can come from the widespread crisis in confidence that is 2018 is a greater premium on critical thinking and the importance of placing our relentless and exhausting news cycle in its broader context.

As usual, Atlas Obscura does rigorous yet unpretentious work putting curiosities and absurdities against the backdrop of history, in an entertaining and approachable fashion. All week, it has showcased examples of old-school irreverence, from bird dung to a theoretical cactus, as a reminder that high-profile pranks have always been with us, and their spirit is always worth preserving and celebrating. (Thanks to Dr. Bob O’Keefe for the tip on this one.)

Real Magician’s Never Reveal Their Tricks?

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Parody, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters

Dead pan parody of a magician’s nemesis revealing all of the tricks. h/t Neatorama


It’s enough to make you pull your hare out! Magician’s thrilling secrets are revealed by his stony-faced assistant
by Joe Sheppard
Daily Mail
October 13, 2017

As traits go, honesty is not really the best policy for a magician’s assistant.

This amusing video shows a prankster revealing all his budding sorcerer friend’s best tricks.

The series of clips filmed by Chinese internet star A Gan shows him attempting a few illusions which are intended to show floating hands, bending bottles and levitating taps.

But each time he tries, the mood is instantly broken by his purple-haired pal, who steps in to reveal the hoax. Read the whole article here.

Short video:

Longer video:

Brutal Japanese Elevator Prank

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters

Where does the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans stand on this?


Japan TV show pranks unsuspecting people with elevator problem
Rob Beschizza
BoingBoing
January 30, 2018

Even by the hilariously sadistic standards of Japanese prank shows, this is outstanding.

Watch the video

Now You Can Say “Kiss My Sweet Ass” and Mean It in the Nicest Way

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters, Satire

Perfect gift for the real asshole in your life…


You Can Now Buy A Chocolate Mold Of Your Partner\”™s Anus (Or Your Own), Just In Time For The Holidays
PizzaBottle.com

If you\”™re looking for something to say, \”I love you, happy holidays!!\” why not get a chocolate mold of your anus and gift it to your boo? Or, grab a mold of your significant other\”™s behind to show them just how much you adore their poop shoot. While it seems a bit crazy, and a bit #fakenews, this is the real deal, y\”™all. If you\”™re as obsessed with your partner\”™s ass as they are with yours, show them the right way by making it edible. Edible Anus, a company that specializes in \”“ you guessed it \”“ edible anus\”™, will send you a box of three chocolate butts for only $10. Magnus Irvin, the owner of Edible Anus, is clearly onto something here.

Canards For Humanity

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Satire

In what has become an annual American holiday tradition, the creative team behind the party game Cards Against Humanity is pulling a satirical marketing stunt. (In 2014, we talked with ringleader Max Temkin about the “Box of Bullshit” and his reverence for Abbie Hoffman.) This time, their gimmick carries a fresh and righteous political charge.


“Cards Against Humanity is the undisputed champion of holiday promotions”
by Lindsey Quinn
The Hustle
November 16, 2017

The world\”™s raunchiest card game has purchased a plot of vacant land along the Mexico-US border and has hired an eminent domain lawyer to make it \”as time-consuming and expensive as possible\” for the Trump administration to build its proposed wall.

To fund their effort, CAH offered a package of \”six surprises\” for $15 \”” all of which are now sold out.

Since the game was launched by 8 high school friends in 2011, it\”™s gained a reputation for pulling incredibly on-point PR stunts. Read more.

Bulgarian Superhero Shenanigans

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

Bulgarian vandals are disrespecting Soviet military monuments, and the Russian government wants them to cut it out right now. H/t Naomi.


“Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes”
By Staff
Earthly Mission
October 20, 2017

According to a report by the Moscow Times, pranksters in Bulgaria are repainting Soviet-era monuments so that Soviet military heroes look like American Superheroes. Needless to say, the Russians are not too happy about it.

Watch the video and then read more:

Improv Everywhere’s Fake Apple Store

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

From Improv Everywhere: For our latest mission, we turned the 23rd Street 6-train elevator into New York\”™s newest Apple Store. We placed giant Apple logos on the sides of the glass cube structure, added fake Apple Store employees plus a line of 50 people waiting for the new iPhone X. With the famous 5th Avenue Apple Store under construction, we felt NYC needed a new glass cube Apple Store.

Watch the video:

Mission report and more photos are here.

Directed by Charlie Todd
Produced by Deverge
Music by Tyler Walker


Melania’s Flood Stilettos

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

After she was heartily mocked for appearing to wear stilettos to tour the hurricane ravaged city of Houston (although she changed to brand new white sneakers during the flight), fashionistas have suggested a new look for Melania Trump:

San Francisco Rolls Out the Brown Carpet for Right-Wing Demonstrators

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

The far-right group Patriot Prayer has a gathering scheduled this weekend. Counter-protesters have their own plans. (h/t to Boing Boing)


“Turd Reich: San Francisco dog owners lay minefield of poo for rightwing rally”
by Julie Carrie Wong
The Guardian
August 24, 2017

When a group of far-right activists come to San Francisco to hold a rally this Saturday, they will be met by peace activists offering them flowers to wear in their hair.

Also, dog shit. Lots and lots of dog shit.

Hundreds of San Franciscans plan to prepare Crissy Field, the picturesque beach in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge where rightwing protest group Patriot Prayer will gather, with a generous carpeting of excrement.

\”I just had this image of alt-right people stomping around in the poop,\” Tuffy Tuffington said of the epiphany he had while walking Bob and Chuck, his two Patterdale terriers, and trying to think of the best way to respond to rightwing extremists in the wake of Charlottesville. \”It seemed like a little bit of civil disobedience where we didn\”™t have to engage with them face to face.\” (more…)

Gone Phishing at the White House

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Filed under: Phone Pranks, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

Email prankster, @SINON_REBORN, went phishing at the White House and caught some big ones.


White House officials tricked by email prankster
by Jake Tapper
CNN
Monday, July 31, 2017

A self-described “email prankster” in the UK fooled a number of White House officials into thinking he was other officials, including an episode where he convinced the White House official tasked with cyber security that he was Jared Kushner and received that official’s private email address unsolicited.

“Tom, we are arranging a bit of a soirée towards the end of August,” the fake Jared Kushner on an Outlook account wrote to the official White House email account of Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert. “It would be great if you could make it, I promise food of at least comparible (sic) quality to that which we ate in Iraq. Should be a great evening.”

Bossert wrote back: “Thanks, Jared. With a promise like that, I can’t refuse. Also, if you ever need it, my personal email is” (redacted).

Bossert did not respond to CNN’s request for comment; the email prankster said he was surprised Bossert responded given his expertise. The emails were shared with CNN by the email prankster.

White House officials acknowledged the incidents and said they were taking the matter seriously. “We take all cyber related issues very seriously and are looking into these incidents further,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN. Read the rest of the story here.


Vetting Who’s Calling is Kinda Important When You’re the U.S. Energy Secretary

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Filed under: Phone Pranks, Political Pranks, Pranksters

Ooops. \”Jerky Boys of Russia\” prank-call U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. (h/t James)


US Energy Secretary Rick Perry duped into fake interview with Russian comedians
by Timothy Gardner
Reuters
July 26, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry optimistically discussed expanding American coal exports to Ukraine and other energy matters during a lengthy phone call this month with a Russian prankster who Perry thought was Ukraine\”™s prime minister.

Perry actually was talking with comedians known in Russia for targeting celebrities and politicians with audacious stunts, Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a written statement.

Pranksters Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov are sometimes called the \”Jerky Boys of Russia,\” after an American duo who put out recordings of their prank phone calls in the 1990s. They have made faux calls to British singer Elton John, who thought he was speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and others.

\”These individuals are known for pranking high-level officials and celebrities, particularly those who are supportive of an agenda that is not in line with their governments. In this case, the energy security of Ukraine,\” Hynes said.

During the 22-minute call on July 19, Perry, whose department oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons program, discussed a range of topics in a business-like tone, including sanctions against Russia and helping Ukraine develop oil and gas. Read the rest of this article here.

Airport Charging Station Prank

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

Prankster gives travelers desperate for a charge serious sticker shock.


This Man’s Hilarious Airport Prank Is So Perfect and So Evil
by Reegan Von Wildenradt
Men’s Health
June 15, 2017

He hit airport travelers right where it hurts

Is there anything as beautiful as spotting an unused outlet in a crowded airport just as your phone battery reaches 1 percent? Of course not. So when one guy decided to violate that sacred moment for countless airport travelers by dotting a crowded airport terminal with fake electrical outlet stickers, we both cringed with the victims and applauded the sheer genius of one of the most hilarious pranks we’ve seen in a while.

The mastermind, @JustBasicDave, was traveling from Miami International Airport to London when he apparently decided that instead of just grabbing a book and finding a nice comfortable piece of hard plastic chair while waiting for his flight, he would turn the nightmare that already is traveling into an even sadder time for a number of airport travelers. (If you’re looking for an airport terminal you wouldn’t mind spending some extra time in, though, here are the 10 best.) Dave, as we are assuming his name is, pulled out some fake electrical outlet stickers and stuck them to spots throughout the terminal. Then, he sat and waited for his prey to fall into his devious trap. Read the rest of this article here.


Veteran Crank Yankers Celebrate the Lost Art of the Prank Call

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Phone Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks

In the ’90s, Comedy Central’s Crank Yankers showcased popular comedians and kept alive the hallowed cultural tradition of the phone prank. Here, stars Adam Carolla and Jim Florentine reminisce and reflect.


“Crank Yankers’ Adam Carolla and Jim Florentine on the ‘Lost Art’ of the Prank Call”
by Jake Lauer
Paste
June 1, 2017
There\”™s something nostalgic about prank phone calls. They\”™re the product of a bygone era, and if you were born before the invention of caller ID, they were likely a part of your childhood.

\”Maybe there\”™s a nostalgic feel to them because you can\”™t do them anymore, says Jim Florentine, one of the stars of Comedy Central\”™s Crank Yankers and the voice of fan-favorite character Special Ed. \”Now you get harassment charges. It\”™s really a lost art.\”

It\”™s been 15 years since comedians Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel introduced the world to Crank Yankers, the hilariously offensive show where puppets, voiced by comedians, harass unsuspecting people with prank phone calls. The show was a huge hit, running for four seasons\””three on Comedy Central and one on MTV 2.

Crank Yankers featured some of the biggest names in comedy, including Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan and Dane Cook (before he became a household name). Carolla, who produced the show with Kimmel, voiced Mr. Birchum, a crotchety Vietnam War veteran who berated anyone who spoke with him.

Paste spoke with Carolla and Florentine about Crank Yankers\”™s 15th anniversary, the art of the perfect prank call and the unaired calls that went too far. Read more.


A Vintage Vino Hoax

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, The History of Pranks

You may think academics will fall for anything. But have you met any wine snobs? Here’s a hoax flashback…


“The Winning Wine List That Wasn’t”
by Dan Lewis
Now I Know
May 23, 2017

If you\”™re a wine fan, Wine Spectator is probably on your go-to list for magazine reading. Fifteen times a year, it hits newsstands and subscriber mailboxes with ratings and reviews of various vintages and types of wine. And once a year, the magazine announces its \”Restaurant Awards,\” an honor for \”” you guessed it \”” restaurants. Wine Spectator\”™s website sets it up thusly: \”Attention restaurateurs: If you\”™ve got a good wine list, you deserve the credibility and publicity that comes with a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award.\” For example, here\”™s a screenshot of Milan restaurant Osteria L\”™Intrepido\”™s honor on the Wine Spectator website from 2008:

The cuisine type, the price range, a top-line summary of the wine available, and of course, some contact information for the restaurant itself. If you\”™re looking for a $70 dollar dinner for two while in Milan, and you\”™re willing to fork over a moderately extra amount for the wine, Osteria L\”™Intrepido may be for you. With more than 250 wine selections, you\”™re likely to find something that enhances your experience \”” or at least, that\”™s what the \”Award of Excellence\” would imply. Read more.