No one really knows exactly where, when or how April Fools Day began, what we do know is that a day filled with foolery and trickery called “All Fools Day” began to catch on in Europe during the Middle Ages. Today, April Fools Day brings out the silly side of even the shyest of people and it is the only day of the year where just about everyone competes to see who can pull off the most memorable AFD prank or joke.
Over the course of hundreds and hundreds of years, some April Fools Day jokes have stood the test of time, while others have been reinvented. There are thousands of new AFD pranks, hoaxes and jokes that are sure to leave a lasting impression as well. Read on to learn about a few famous hoaxes from the past and some popular new practical jokes for today and the future.
In February 1708 a previously unknown London astrologer named Isaac Bickerstaff published an almanac in which he predicted the death by fever of the famous rival astrologer John Partridge. According to Bickerstaff, Partridge would die on March 29 of that year. Partridge indignantly denied the prediction, but on March 30 Bickerstaff released a pamphlet announcing that he had been correct: Partridge was dead. It took a day for the news to settle in, but soon everyone had heard of the astrologer’s demise. On April 1, April Fools Day, Partridge was woken by a sexton outside his window who wanted to know if there were any orders for his funeral sermon. Then, as Partridge walked down the street, people stared at him as if they were looking at a ghost or stopped to tell him that he looked exactly like someone they knew who was dead. As hard as he tried, Partridge couldn’t convince people that he wasn’t dead. Bickerstaff, it turned out, was a pseudonym for the great satirist Jonathan Swift. His prognosticatory practical joke upon Partridge worked so well that the astrologer finally was forced to stop publishing his almanacs, because he couldn’t shake his reputation as the man whose death had been foretold. (From the Museum of Hoaxes, http://www.museumofhoaxes.com)
On March 31, 1989 thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London looked up in the air to see a glowing flying saucer descending on their city. Many of them pulled to the side of the road to watch the bizarre craft float through the air. The saucer finally landed in a field on the outskirts of London where local residents immediately called the police to warn them of an alien invasion. Soon the police arrived on the scene, and one brave officer approached the craft with his truncheon extended before him. When a door in the craft popped open, and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, the policeman ran in the opposite direction. The saucer turned out to be a hot-air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records. The stunt combined his passion for ballooning with his love of pranks. His plan was to land the craft in London’s Hyde Park on April 1. Unfortunately, the wind blew him off course, and he was forced to land a day early in the wrong location. (From the Museum of Hoaxes, http://www.museumofhoaxes.com)
So now you know that it takes to pull off an elaborate hoax, but the following five practical jokes are simple, fast and they’re sure to get more than a few laughs!
1. Got a tube of Icy Hot in your pocket? If you’re heading for a party this April Fools Day, have a little fun in the restroom. Add a bit of Icy Hot to the porcelain throne and wait for the temperatures down south to rise.
2. We all know that reality TV has taken over just about every network on the planet and I’m sure you have a friend or two who secretly wants to become a part of the trend. Have a friend call up one of your buds pretending to be from MTV, Bravo or TLC, offering them an audition for a new “show.” It may take a rehearsal or two to pull this one off, but you can always count on the words “you’ll be on TV” to cause all logic to go straight out the window!
3. Got roommates? Whether you live in a dorm, a frat house or a flat, this soap trick will definitely leave your roomies puzzled, stunned and suds-less. Grab a bottle of clear nail polish and paint every bar of soap you can find. The word about the suds-less soaps will spread like wildfire and the credit will be all yours!
4. So you work in an office? Sorry to hear that, but don’t worry. This prank will prompt enough head scratching and raised eyebrows to keep you entertained for hours on end. Take a quick walk around the office and unplug a handful of keyboards. You’ll be amazed by how many of your co-workers will panic and never think to check the connection.
5. When in doubt, whip out that whoopee cushion or dust off that fake doggie doo and enjoy the laughs-old school style!