Blog Posts

The Legendary Hollyweed Sign

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

Los Angeles has an obnoxious habit of neglectfully erasing its own history. Before Hugh Hefner helped restore it in 1978, the city’s iconic Hollywood Sign had fallen into disrepair. It was during this low point that a few tenacious pranksters (and recreational drug enthusiasts) decided to temporarily alter it.

In the words of redditor bmwnut, “I do wonder where they put a 45 foot letter on which to practice.”

“In 1976, pot-head pranksters made ‘HOLLYWEED’ out of the iconic Hollywood sign”
By Rusty Blazenhoff
Dangerous Minds
February 27, 2015

On January 1, 1976, Tinseltown”™s iconic sign read “Hollyweed” after art student Danny Finegood and 3 of his college pals used $50 worth of dark fabric to transform the famous Hollywood landmark temporarily. They had practiced it first on a scale model Finegood had crafted.Hollyweed

It was more than a simple practical joke, Finegood considered it a statement on the relaxed California marijuana law that went into effect that day.

Read more here.

Glitter-bomb Prankster Can’t Stop His Own Creation

Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Spin

It was an idea that practically shimmered with brilliance: Have packages full of glitter shipped to your enemies, assuring they won’t get your sparkly animus out of their sweaters for a long time. It exploded on blogs and social media, and now Matthew Carpenter, its creator, is not having fun anymore. He’s trying to sell the business after just one day. Sounds like a marketing ploy if there ever was one. “This is too successful. Please take it off my hands for a lot of money.”


“Evil genius behind ‘Ship Your Enemies Glitter’ didn’t quite think it through”
by Andrea Romano
January 15, 2015

Mathew Carpenter has made a huge mistake, and much like his creation, it’s not going anywhere for a while.

The 22-year-old creator of “” and self-proclaimed person who “live[s] for moolah” on Twitter “” is urging his millions of fans to stop using his brilliantly evil website to get revenge on their enemies.

After a boom in sales that also caused a temporary site crash, Carpenter decided he is in way over his sparkly head and put the site up for grabs to anyone who wants to buy it from him.

He also posted on the website, pleading with customers to stop buying his shiny and swift revenge methods.

Read the rest here.


If Someone Told You to Piss on the 3rd Rail, Would You Do It?

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

Fact or fiction? You decide…

“New Apple ‘Wave’ Hoax Convinces Users to Microwave their iPhones”
by Technology Staff
September 25, 2014

apple wave hoax

People are falling victim to a new hoax that claims microwaving your iPhone will make it charge up nearly instantly.

In reality, microwaving your phone will destroy the expensive device. It can also cause a fire or explosion.

The Los Angeles Police Department issued a warning about the hoax on its Twitter account:

This #Wave capability is a #hoax. Don’t be fooled into microwaving your #iPhone6. #Apple #Smartphone.

Read more…

Pessimistic Weather Forecast is a Little Too Pessimistic

Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief

Here’s a brief look at how the typical hoax-news-story sausage is made, from Emerson Dameron:

As an aspiring humor writer, I always keep one eye open for new sites that might be interested in running my stuff. A few years ago – neatly coinciding with the explosion of Twitter, reddit, Facebook, and other mass social-sharing sites – I began to notice more and more sites soliciting “satirical” news stories that were just slightly off. Not funny like The Onion, but close enough to the news to be somewhat believable yet false enough to make the people who spread them look like idiots.

When these sites get scads of clicks from a “hoax” story, they can have it both ways. They’ve significantly widened their audience, but can still explain that they were clearly just joshing.

That’s worth keeping very much in mind.



Popular map suggesting ‘record-shattering snowfall’ is a hoax
by Scott Dance
The Baltimore Sun
September 9, 2014

A winter forecast map that is going viral and suggests above-normal snowfall for most of the country – and “well above-normal” snow for the mid-Atlantic and New England – comes from a satire website.

The story has been shared widely across social media, carrying the headline “Meteorologists Predict Record-Shattering Snowfall Coming Soon.” The accompanying map forecasts an unusually snowy winter for about two-thirds of the country, and a corridor of even heavier snow from Virginia to Maine. Read more…

Get Off My Phone: A Toast to Scharpling and Wurster

Filed under: Phone Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks

In the 21st Century, it seems that everyone’s a prospect, has something to sell, or both. To stay balanced, we need people who can mess with our minds in ways that leave us more savvy, more curious, and more creative. If such people make us laugh, that’s a bonus. This is a tribute to two of these from Emerson Dameron a writer, storyteller, and humorist searching for signs of mischief in a world plastered with ads.

All illustrations are by the inimitable Los Angeles artist John Hogan.

“I like anyone with a dream.”
– Tom Scharpling

Great radio theater envelops its listeners in a vivid alternative reality and compels them to examine their own worlds more closely when they return. The best great radio theater twists their assumptions about themselves and makes them laugh for reasons that may be hard to explain to the world outside their headphones.

Until late 2013, Scharpling and Wurster, one of the underground’s favorite long-form radio comedy duos, made a home for themselves on WFMU, an influential and beloved freeform radio station broadcasting from New Jersey. They made sport of poseurs, snobs, and sleazebags in an elaborate world of their own creation. They are missed.

Tom Scharpling

Tom Scharpling, via Flickr

Tom Scharpling published the zine 18 Wheeler, wrote for the TV show Monk, and clerked in a music store. Jon Wurster is the original drummer for the North Carolina indie-rock band Superchunk and has played with Robert Pollard, the Polyphonic Spree, and many others. For over a decade, they collaborated on a unique and uncanny brand of phone-prank magic.


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

Pranks That Sell

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Publicity Stunts

From Joe King

Why Terrifying Pranks Make the Best Advertising
by Claire Suddath
Business Week
November 1, 2013

A few weeks ago, a two-and-a-half minute video called Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise circulated online. The clip offered a behind-the-scenes look at how a team of filmmakers played a prank on unsuspecting New York City coffee shop patrons by building a fake wall, outfitting an actor with a wire and harness, and then cuing an actress to freak out in public and use her magical powers to suspend the guy in midair. The coffee shop was a real coffee shop”””™sNice in Manhattan”™s West Village””and the looks of horror on customers”™ faces were genuine. The prank was funny and fascinating, and has since been watched more than 46 million times on YouTube and discussed on both Good Morning America and CNN (TWX).

It”™s also, technically speaking, a commercial. Watch the video here.


The prank and resulting video were a promotional stunt for Sony Pictures”™ (SNE) Carrie remake; this becomes evident when the movie”™s title and release date appear at the end. It was produced by the viral marketing firm Thinkmodo, which in February made a similar promo for The Last Exorcism Part II. In that one, Thinkmodo scared hair salon customers by making the image of a possessed-looking woman appear whenever they looked in the mirror.

On the Today show, hosts Natalie Morales and Matt Lauer talked about the demon-in-the-mirror stunt and then pranked their own NBC correspondents with it. “That”™s millions of dollars worth of air time for our client, and it was free,” says James Percelay, co-founder of Thinkmodo. “We figured out a way to get their name mentioned without so much as a media buy.” (more…)

April Fools’ Day 2013: Pranks High and Low

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief

Corporate sniping takes a front row in this year’s tech-foolery…


From TechCrunch: The hits just keep coming for The Googs. Next stop on the April Fools Google Train? “Gmail Blue.” That should explain itself, but just in case, it took Google “six years to develop the technology” to turn Gmail blue. Google turns nine tomorrow, and it might as well just go for it.

A poke at Facebook? Who”™s to say?

Bing goes Google:

From ZDNet: If you wander down over to Bing today, you’re surely in for a surprise. Microsoft is swiping a jibe at Google by changing how it looks if you search for “google” in the rival search engine. It’s still regular Bing under the surface, though. And just for extra heart-ripping measure, you can either “Search” or hit the soon-to-be infamous “I’m Feeling Confused” button instead.


More on what’s happening – check these links throughout the day for more:

  • Round Up: All of Google”™s jokes for April Fools 2013
  • April Fools’ Day Pranks 2013: The Best Pranks Of The Year (UPDATES)
  • VIDEO: Best Internet April Fool’s Day 2013 pranks
  • April Fools’ 2013: The best techy pranks of the day
  • April Fools’ Day 2011 Prank Survey

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

    April Fools’ Day 2011
    March 31, 2011

    April Fools’ Day: Top five April Fools’ Day jokes in sport ever: For some, April Fools’ Day is all fun and high jinx, but for others it’s just those with no sense of humour playing along with the rest of the human race. At Metro we thought we’d celebrate five of the best sporting April Fools’ jokes of all time.

    Top 5 YouTube pranks: To celebrate April Fools’ Day this year, we’ve had a look back at some of the best YouTube pranks to cross our jape-loving paths.

    April Fools’ Day: Joke ideas to play on your work colleagues and friends: It’s April Fools’ Day and once again workers around the country will be playing a host of tricks on their colleagues and friends. If you’re short on prank ideas, read on for Metro’s guide to the best jokes to play.

    April Fools’ Day movie special: Top 5 ill-advised film pranks: It”™s the week of April Fools”™ Day and innocent pranks are very much the order of the day. We bring you our five best film pranks.

    Improv Everywhere: Star Wars Subway Car

    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    New from Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:

    Star Wars Subway Car

    For our latest mission, we staged a reenactment of the first Princess Leia / Darth Vader scene from Star Wars on a New York City subway car. The white walls and sliding doors on the train reminded us of the rebel ship from the movie, and we thought it would be fun to see how people would react to a surprise appearance by the iconic characters. We spread out the actors along the train line, staging it so they would enter the right car at the right time. Enjoy the video first and then go behind-the-scenes for photos and more information.

    edited by Matt Adams, music by Gustav Holst, arranged by Tyler Walker

    More related links for Improv Everywhere here.

    A Ticket to Higher Education

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    Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    From Melbourne Art & Culture Critic, May 2, 2010:

    Pranksters struck at one of Melbourne”™s train stations again. This time they altered a ticket machine”™s instructions to dispense university degrees. The alterations used stickers of the same color and typeface, cut to fit over the existing information, it was so subtle that staff at the station didn”™t notice them until informed by a confused customer. (Thanks to Jane for the photos.)

    Close-up view:

    Elderly Belgians Get Even

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    Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters

    Benidorm Bastards is a Belgian TV show where the elderly take revenge by pulling pranks on random people.


    Tech Crunch List 2010

    posted by
    Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, You Decide

    The April Fools 2010: The TechCrunch definitive list will be updated all day.

    In the meantime, DO NOT go to the College Humor web site until they work out the kinks…

    Hot Chicks Pranked

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    Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief

    From channel:

    Hot chicks are awesome, and so are pranks, so what happens when you combine the two? Something even more awesome. Most of these girls are good humored about it, but I think a few might be plotting revenge.

    Wired’s Guide to Hoaxes

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    Filed under: Definitions, The Future of Pranks, Why Do a Prank?

    Wired’s Guide to Hoaxes: How to Give “” and Take “” a Joke
    Essay by Scott Brown, The Official Prankonomy by Steven Leckart
    August 24, 2009

    mf_hoax_f-200Here’s what you’ve been told: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” “Take or be taken.” “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” These aphorisms are so ingrained in American life, they’re practically commandments. And for good reason: We are a credulous people. For proof, open your spam folder and count the chain emails from 1998 that are still coming in, dutifully forwarded by friends and relatives. Or consider that new Facebook pal whose name seemed familiar enough when you hit Confirm. We are, today, the same easy marks who ran screaming from Orson Welles’ made-up Martians and flocked to see the Cardiff Giant. So we’re defensive. A hoax, we are taught, is an invasive, aggressive stratagem””a nefarious short-circuiting of our natural social instincts, a hack of Trust itself, a deterministic, zero-sum shell game with a clear winner (the prankster) and loser (the gull).

    Well, here’s what we’re telling you: Bullshit. (more…)