April Fools’ Day is one of those once well-loved things like snow and Christmas that have seemingly been ruined by the transition to adulthood. (Seriously, commuting in snow is terrible and come December, I’ll wish a Merry Bah Humbug to you all!) But April Fools’ Day has been ruined by more than just the passage of time—-the Internet has played a role in its descent. Those fake Facebook posts announcing your wedding/engagement/pregnancy/new job in Barcelona were pretty funny for a couple of years, but it’s hard to respect something that took 30 seconds to concoct. Remember when pranks took at least a little more effort? And getting fake press releases and reading nonsense news stories is straight-up annoying. Not everything on the Internet is going to be true, but it’s frustrating to spend a day wondering if anything is real.
So in honor (or in memoriam) of April Fools’ Day, Arts Desk asked some local comedians to look back at some of the most memorable pranks that have duped them or that they’ve played on people. They run the gamut from harmless to outright mean, but none of them involve a status update or a Photoshopped ultrasound. I’ll start with mine:
Every professional environment in which I’d ever worked frowned down on the mere idea of April Fools’ jokes. But one year, I had a supervisor who actually encouraged us to prank our co-workers throughout the day. I worked in high-end electronic retail and knew how to stream media content from my own smartphone onto the nice glossy television in the corner of the store. My original plan was to just play Fugazi‘s Repeater very loudly throughout the day, but while I was amused that anti-consumerist anthem “Merchandise” was playing in a store where everyone was dropping several hundred dollars, no one else really took notice.
So I took a different approach. I turned the volume on the television as high as it would go and then walked away, waiting for a co-worker—-any co-worker—-to show off the computer sitting next to the primed television. I got my moment right before my lunch break and started streaming the loudest and most obnoxious thing that I could find on my phone, which happened to be Lightning Bolt‘s Hypermagic Mountain. I hit play. The obvious solution to the loud Lightning Bolt problem is to simply turn off the television, but that particular co-worker was just so flustered by the intense noise that he had trouble figuring out just what buttons he needed to press to get rid of the racket. His customers were actually more forgiving of my prank than he was. —-Valerie Paschall
I told my Mom that I was planning on moving to NYC. She wasn’t very happy with the idea since I had just dropped out of college and had no money. She asked if we could discuss it first. I told her yes. Two days later was April Fools’ Day. I called her at work and told her that I was leaving in a few hours for New York and that I would come home visit around Thanksgiving. She was muted with emotions. I told her I had to go and hung up the phone. When I called back 10 minutes later to say “April Fools!”, her secretary answered and said my mom couldn’t take my phone call because she was in her office crying hysterically. My joke wasn’t funny and I still feel like shit when I think about it. I still moved to NYC six months later but was much more financially prepared. —-Jeremy Hall
I’m under a huge amount of pressure because the partners at the company where I work are into pranks. So I’m writing my boss a fake letter from Medicare saying that we owe them $8,530.00 instead of $853.00. Stay tuned. —-Eva Mozena Brandon
I remember once, when I was a teenager in the ’90s, I convinced my parents that terrorists had bombed the Eiffel Tower. I always thought that was hilarious until 9/11 happened and I realized I was kind of an asshole. —-John Conroy
In college, I replaced the water in our refrigerator with grain alcohol. April Fools’ was on a Saturday. My roommate was amazingly hung over from Friday. I will always regret missing my roommate projectile vomiting. We’re still friends to this day. —-Bryan Preston
My April Fool’s prank at that I remember was taking oil and “cleaning” the chalkboard with it, super glued the chalk on the hold to the holder. What ends up happening is that you can’t write on a chalkboard coated in cooking oil. Trying to erase it only gets it into the eraser and spreads the coating around. —-Romane Walters
At my last job I liked to dick around a lot and pull pranks on people. Once one of the people on my team decided that he was going to hide another team member’s Girl Scout cookies. We’ll call him Prankpants. He took the cookies out of the box, hid them, and walked back to his desk to write a ransom note. I told him to up the ante. We decided to leave the ransom note (in ransom note font, of course) along with the business card of another co-worker. We’ll call the cookie victim here Cookiepants. We leave the note and business card in the box, and Cookiepants returned, she blamed the person who “left their business card.” We’ll call him Businesspants. That resulted in Cookiepants going to Businesspants’ desk and taking his prized work possession: a bust of himself that he keeps on his desk. Yes, really. Cookiepants staged a ransom picture with her stuffed toys holding his bust at knifepoint, demanding her cookies back. Businesspants didn’t know what she was talking about, and he started stealing her stuffed toys. Businesspants and Cookiepants went at it for three or four days before realizing that it Prankpants and I were behind the whole thing. It was a great show for us! —-Alyssa Cowan
A roommate told me that my car was gone one morning, because he knew I slept naked. Luckily, I happened to fall asleep in underwear because I ran outside and he shut the door shouting, “April Fools!” I had to go around to the back door. I don’t know what I ran for. What was I gonna do? —-Randolph Terrance
All of my April Fools’ prank ideas seemed to require too much work. I wanted to fasten a board on the outside of my friend’s door while she was sleeping so when she woke up, she would open the door (the door opened inwards) and she would be trapped. Ideally, I would have been out of the apartment so I couldn’t help her, but that seemed really mean. I had another friend that was terrified of mice so I wanted to fill all of his commonly used dresser drawer with a bunch of fake mice and one real mouse. But when I was in college, someone wrapped everything in my dorm room in foil from my books, pillow, backpack and that seemed like a lot more work than anything I’d planned. —-Kasha Patel
A few years ago back when I was in college, at the peak of my d-bag phase, I pranked a guy that lived in my dorm. He was a fellow d-bag like me that was an easy target when it came to pranks. A “Clumsy Rage Monster” if you will. So, when I found out that he was going out of town one weekend I decided to mess with his room. After breaking into his room I had to think of the cheapest/best prank possible. That’s when I saw his grey carpet. It was a cheap area rug from Wal-Mart. The color was a weird grey color that looked similar to the sticky side of duct tape. That’s when it hits me: duct tape mouse trap. Did you know weaving half a roll of duct tape sticky side up essentially creates a massive sticky mouse trap? It was the perfect plan. I’d tie off my broken translucent audio cable from his sink cabinet to his closet so he would trip and fall right into the giant Duct Tape Mouse Trap.
You know when you try to pull a prank, part of you thinks “There is no way everything will go right.” Well, my mouse trap prank did. It was magical, but for one minor detail. When guys come back to their dorms after a long weekend, sometimes they arrive with their families. He arrived with his much younger sister: a hyperactive 5-year-old. She’s the one that fell into the giant duct tape mouse trap. I ran up to the door and what I saw will stay with me forever. The 5-year-old was flailing around and half covered in duct tape. A few feet away, her big brother was laughing hysterically. Like a d-bag. That’s when I knew I needed to turn my life around. We gently separated her from the sticky situation. She was fine, just very angry and confused. I then apologized to the little girl and gently handed her $20. She smiled with approval. I then ran back to my room before his parents showed up. So in review: PULLING PRANKS MAKES YOU A D-BAG NO MATTER HOW FUNNY IT IS. Think of the children! —-Dee Ahmed
Dude laughing photo via Shutterstock