College Pranks

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Italian Art Pranks Remembered

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Filed under: Art Pranks, College Pranks, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

From Modigliani Fakes To Michelangelo The Forger: Italy’s Most Ingenious Art Pranks, by Emanuela Minucci, LA STAMPA, ENGLISH EDITION WORLDCRUNCH, May 06, 2023

TURIN — Summer, 1984. Three sculptures are found in a canal in Livorno, Italy.

Experts and art critics Giulio Carlo Argan and Cesare Brandi agree that the sculptures are the work of famous Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, who had written that he threw some sculptures that didn’t turn out as he’d wanted into the river.

But the sculptures were all fake. It was one of the greatest art hoaxes of all time. The prank of Modigliani’s False Heads is the story of three university students and an artist from Livorno who didn’t know each other, but all had the same idea: on the year of the centenary of Modigliani’s birth, as the city of Livorno dredged a nearby river to find the lost sculptures Modigliani had written about, defied the art world. It was courageous, and reckless.

After the four made the sculptures and threw them into the river at night, they waited for critics and experts to comment on their authenticity and quality. Then, they went on television and revealed the hoax — for the students, a prank, and for the artist, a performance.

Even the art world is not immune to pranks, and some of those who indulged in these hoaxes were later remembered as some of the most important and influential artists of all time.

Michelangelo, the forger
The mastermind of one of the most famous scams in art history was none other than Michelangelo Buonarroti. At just over 20 years old, the Renaissance art genius created a Sleeping Cupid that, through various tricks, looked like a piece of ancient artwork. (more…)

Harvard Toasts the Lampoon

Filed under: College Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks

An exhibit in Harvard’s Pusey Library pays playful tribute to the Harvard Lampoon, one of the most influential satirical magazines in American history.

“Pranks at Pusey Library”
by Aidan Langston
Harvard Magazine
August 6, 2016

AOTPLampoonVisitors to Pusey Library this summer have been greeted by a large cardboard cutout of a cow””part of an exhibit celebrating The Harvard Lampoon and the role it has played in Harvard”™s comedic history. The exhibition, “Remorseless Irony and Sarcastic Pens: The Story of the Harvard Lampoon,” showcases photographs, drawings and other artifacts collected over the course of the Lampoon”™s 140 years.

The cow is an homage to the Lampoon”™s custom of unleashing farm animals on campus for comedic effect. William Randolph Hearst, a member of the Lampoon and the class of 1886″”although his pranks resulted in his expulsion””is suspected of having sparked the tradition by releasing roosters in Harvard Yard. Lampoon members were also blamed for the appearance of a cow in the Yard sometime in the 1930s, which was “forcibly ejected” from the premises by Harvard police.

The exhibit contains an array of memorabilia from the magazine”™s earliest days, ranging from photographs of the seven students who founded it in 1876 to a copy of its first issue. (more…)

Nares Craig, Infamous Cambridge Night Climber, RIP

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Cantab ‘Original Prankster’ Dies, Aged 94
by Harry Shukman
11th February 2012

One of the oldest former members of the infamous Cambridge Night Climbers has died, aged 94.

Nares Craig, who studied at Trinity in the 1930s, was well-known for his activity in the elusive Night Climbers.

This small and select group of daredevils ran, jumped and swang over the rooftops of Cambridge under the cover of darkness, just for kicks.

Back in the day, Nares made his name by climbing King”™s Chapel to hang an effigy of King George VI just before his coronation.

Writing in his memoirs, Nares remembered “˜a rash of bunting and union jacks”™ appearing all over Cambridge.

“˜It prompted me,”™ he said, “˜to think of some appropriate way of mocking the whole pantomime of royalty.”™ (more…)

Haggis To Go

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Student prank sees giant haggis travel to Inverness
January 26th, 2012

College students caused a Burns Night stir after putting a 5ft model haggis on a train.

The madcap students put the papier mache haggis on the 2pm Kirkcaldy to Inverness service yesterday, hoping an amused passenger might collect it at the other end for a Burns Night supper.

Sure enough, the haggis – complete with a pink kilt – was rescued by a businessman in the Highlands capital and whisked away to a celebration of the Scottish Bard”™s life.

The haggis, made by students at Adam Smith college, Kirkcaldy, Fife, even sported a Paddington Bear-style tag with contact information for the college, in case he got lost.

The 5ft model was placed in the luggage department in the last compartment of the busy train.

A businessman, named by local press as Kit Fraser, collected the haggis from the station to be his guest of honour at a Burns Night supper for an accountancy firm. (more…)

New York’s Astor Place Sculpture Pranked… Again!

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Pranksters Plant Giant Companion Cube in NYC
by Marshall Honorof
The Escapist
14 December 2011

The California Institute of Technology invited your best friend, the Companion Cube, to Astor Place in New York City.

You can bet that the California Institute of Technology is making a note here: “huge success.” A group of students from CalTech traveled all the way across the country to pull off one of its nerdiest pranks to date – transforming the recognizable Alamo sculpture in Astor Place, New York City from a modern masterpiece into a supersized piece of gaming iconography. This morning, city dwellers between Astor Place and Lafayette Street found the rotating cube covered in a Companion Cube sleeve, accompanied by a note from Aperture Science (appropriate for the Portal theme). By the time the news began to spread, the pranksters had already disappeared, presumably by way of portal gun.

In keeping with the Prank Club’s tradition of good-natured shenanigans, the Alamo sculpture remained totally unharmed. The Companion Cube skin is simple cloth, and the students attached it with non-adhesive fasteners. The note detailed how to remove the Companion Cube skin, claimed full responsibility, and even provided the group’s e-mail address. It did warn, however, that “premature euthanization of your companion cube can interfere with your ability to complete the test.”

The Alamo has been the target of a few pranks before, so GLADoS probably ordered city officials to deal with the Compaion Cube fairly quickly. At this time, the CalTech pranksters do not appear to be in any trouble, although Mayor Bloomberg is not exactly congratulating them for interfering with a public work of art, either. If this incident has made anything clear, it’s this: New York City is in desperate need of a more permanent giant Companion Cube. Someone ought to get working on that, as soon as they finish baking that cake we were promised four years ago.

source: MTV Geek!, Alamo image:

UCSD Senior Prank: Non-Existent Artist Hangs House on Building

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EXCLUSIVE: UCSD: Best Prank Ever
by Walter Mencken
San Diego Reader
November 17, 2011

Senior Class Fabricates Existence of Korean “Artist,” Cons Stuart Collection into Hanging House Off Edge of Seven-Story Building.

Stuart Collection Curator Attempts to Save Face: “Actually, joke’s on them: this prank is so genius that it ascends to the level of art. We’re proud to feature it in our collection.”

High-Fiving All ‘Round, UCSD – “It’s over,” says UCSD Senior Amanda Terwilliger. “Everybody can just stop planning their pranks now, because nobody is ever going to top this. Not, the noose, not the shoe, not the paisley, not even the April Fools’ acceptance email.”

Terwilliger was referring to the installation of “Fallen Star,” the latest addition to the University’s prestigious and silly Stuart Collection of Artistic Oddities. (more…)

Smith College Logic Professors Snare Students… Again

Filed under: College Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

Submitted by Tim Jackson:

Fed false logic, campus eats up a hoax and revolts
by Mary Carmichael
October 25, 2011

Northampton – All last week, students at Smith College were buzzing over a rumor that the school was going completely vegetarian and locavore. There were protests and counter-protests, with slogans chalked on walkways. There was a Twitter feed that caught the attention of VegNews, “America”™s premier vegan lifestyle magazine.” At a student government meeting, the dining services manager came under attack: How did she expect students to pass their midterms without coffee?

But the Smith administration wasn”™t really planning to ban meat, food from outside New England, or anything else.

The whole thing was a hoax – one in a decade of annual pranks perpetrated by professors Jay Garfield and Jim Henle as part of their introductory class in logic. The point is to teach rhetoric and argument, albeit in an unorthodox way. Logic classes get dry. Typically, students spend a lot of time working through inscrutable proofs on the chalkboard. (more…)

Yale Terrorized by Fake Infected Monkeys

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As seen on Gawker:

picture_4_02-200Yale Terrorized by Fake Infected Monkeys

A tipster forwarded an email sent by “Yale police” to undergraduates informing them that rhesus monkeys infected with “Motaba virus” had escaped from a research facility. It was a prank.

Some were fooled

[Yale Daily News]

High-Minded Holiday Gifts 2009: The Prank Books of John Austin

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Filed under: College Pranks, Office Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

The prank books of toy designer John Austin:


Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare ($11.53 on Amazon)
This humorous MacGyver inspired tactical guide illustrates the full potential of everyday items and their lethal potential to be transformed into a menacing arsenal. Learn to build Shoelace Darts, Clothespin Catapult, Penny Bombs, Airsoft Pen Poppers, Ping Pong Zookas and thirty more inexpensive Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Cubicle Warfare: 101 Office Traps and Pranks ($10.19 on Amazon)
Perfect for every cubicle drone whose eyes are beginning to glaze over from fluorescent lighting and too many burned cups of coffee, Cubicle Warfare has 101 office pranks and traps that will erase office boredom during the daily grind once and for all.

Prank University: The Ultimate Guide to College’s Greatest Tradition ($10.76 on Amazon) (more…)

Harvey Mudd College Pranks Victoria’s Secret

Filed under: College Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

Submitted by Marcy LaViollette:

My nerdy alma mater only has around 700 students, and yet cast over 1 million computerized votes in a recent Victoria Secret contest, while also spelling out WIBSTR, which stands for “West is Best, Screw the Rest” (a dorm slogan).

HUMOR LIFE: Harvey Mudd 1, Victoria”™s Secret 0
by Carl Peaslee
CMC Forum
October 15, 2009 seems that Harvey Mudd students have taken a special interest in the lingerie industry. That”™s right. Our neighbors to the north are up to their brilliant shenanigans once again. Now, I don”™t doubt that those Mudders love a school emblazoned pair of panties as much as the next student body but unless my US News and World Report deceives me, I don”™t remember Harvey Mudd having OVER A MILLION STUDENTS!

The best part is, they didn”™t just rig their own numbers, they catapulted six schools (among them the unlikely Bob Jones and Scripps College) to the top seven spots so that they could spell out the acronym WIBSTR or “West is best screw the rest,” apparently some kind of dorm related boast. (more…)

Disaster Preparedness: Zombie Apocalypse

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Fla. college ready for flesh-eating zombie attack
October 12, 2009

zombies-200Gainesville, Fla. (AP) — No one expects a zombie apocalypse. But the University of Florida is making sure officials are ready for a night of the living dead, just in case.

The school has a plan for responding to the undead on its Web site among outlines for dealing with hurricanes and pandemics.

The exercise lays out how university officials would respond to attacks by “flesh-eating, apparently life impaired individuals.” It notes that a zombie outbreak might include “documentation of lots of strange moaning.” (more…)

Madison Wisconsin’s New City Bird

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Plastic pink flamingo voted Madison’s city bird
by Broderick Perkins of Tampa Bay
September 3, 2009

Wisconsin’s capital city alders, inspired by what’s become a historic college prank, have named the pink flamingo the city’s official bird.


Not the real feathered variety indigenous to the wilds of Africa, South America, the Caribbean and the Galapagos Islands.

The plastic pink version found on lawns — good, bad and ugly — throughout America.

Madison City Council voted 15-4 this week to give a lawn decoration perhaps the first such distinction, much to the chagrin of some residents and dissenting alders.

The questionable honor was bestowed upon the kitschy ornament because of a 1979 prank by leaders of the University of Wisconsin student government’s Pail and Shovel Party. (more…)

Barrel Monster Artist Gets 50 Lashes

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Barrel Monster Artist Sentenced
by Shirley Min
July 21, 2009

Raleigh, N.C. – It wasn’t a political statement about ongoing construction on Hillsborough Street.

It was just some art that was meant to make people smile.

That’s what “Barrel Monster” creator Joseph Carnevale said Tuesday after appearing in a Wake County courtroom on misdemeanor larceny and destruction of property charges.

Watch the video:


Creative Prankster Charged with Larceny

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Update, June 17, 2009: Police fail to see art in monstrous prank, AP [but construction company loves it].

Spotted on Fark by W.J. Elvin III:

N.C. State student accused of creating a ‘monster’
June 12, 2009

monsterrobotRaleigh, N.C. – Raleigh police arrested a North Carolina State University student last week who was accused of creating a “monster” out of construction barrels and placing it on the side of the road. Authorities charged Joseph Carnevale with larceny for taking materials from a construction site at a roundabout project to create the monster.

Popcorn Prank: A Real Stinker

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Popcorn Prank Lands Conn. College Students In Hot Water
May 12, 2009

burned_popcorn-200New Britain, Conn. (AP) — Officials at Central Connecticut State University don’t see the humor in this prank: burning bags of popcorn in a microwave in a crowded dorm in the middle of the night and tying some doors shut so residents think they’re trapped in a burning building.

Campus police say they arrested three teenagers who purposely burned the popcorn early Monday, setting off a fire alarm in the dorm shortly after 3 a.m.

No one was hurt in the incident in Vance Hall at the New Britain campus. University officials offered counseling to anyone who needed it.

University spokesman Mark McLaughlin said two bags of popcorn were in a microwave on the third floor, and about six room doors were tied shut with fishing line on the fourth and fifth floors. But students were able to squeeze out because the line wasn’t tight, and the smoke apparently wasn’t much of a problem, he said.

“We take this very seriously. It could easily have been something that went terribly wrong,” McLaughlin said. Read the rest of the story here.