The World’s Greatest Pranks

It only takes a thought, action or activity created as prank that can change the thoughts and ideas of people of every walk of life.
A simple or elaborate plan that gives an illusion of truth but is deceptive and outlandish in presentation.

Over the years, many people have been part of or on the receiving end of pranks. The following examples of pranks from all over the world, have a common thread. Read them and learn how to present an idea in the most extraordinary form of tomfoolery.


H.G. Wells’s War of the World’s

Most of us have heard of the 1938 Halloween Eve radio broadcast by Orson Welles of an adaptation of H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds that many took to be an announcement that Earth had been invaded by Martians. Announcements that the story was fiction were made four times during the broadcast. Welles ended the show by announcing that the broadcast was a “holiday offering”: “the Mercury Theater’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and shouting boo.” The disclaimers did little to prevent many people from believing we’d been invaded by Martians. It’s been called the hoax of the century, but it wasn’t even a hoax. It wasn’t a prank, either. It wasn’t intended to fool people but to entertain them. Yet it fooled many people for several reasons.

1. It was presented realistically and authoritatively.
2. The story itself was credible at the time. There were flying machines, and the possibility of interplanetary travel was easily conceivable. It was not farfetched that some other race of beings might be more technologically advanced than we were.
3. Radio would have been the medium used to announce such an invasion.


The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

Considered the greatest April Fools’ prank ever. In April 1957, BBC television broadcast this story and got hundreds of calls and letters on how people could start their own.

A clever April Fool’s Day joke was played by this, normally very serious, programme in 1957 when Panorama reported on a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. TV viewers saw Richard Dimbleby walking among trees growing spaghetti, while workers pulled the pasta off the trees and put it into baskets. When viewers called to ask how they could grow spaghetti plants, the BBC replied “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” Lending the hoax credibility, was the fact that spaghetti was not a widely eaten food in Britain in the 1950s and was considered by many to be very exotic.
‘It is not only in Britain that spring this year has taken everyone by surprise. Here in the Ticino, on the borders of Switzerland and Italy, the slopes overlooking Lake Lugano have already burst into flower. But what, you may ask, has the early and welcome arrival of bees and blossom to do with food ? It is simply that the past winter, one of the mildest in living memory, has also resulted in an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop. The last two weeks of March are an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer. There is always the chance of a late frost which, while not entirely ruining his crop, generally impairs the flavour and makes it difficult for him to obtain top prices in world markets.

‘Spaghetti cultivation here in Switzerland is not, of course, carried out on anything like the tremendous scale of the Italian industry. Many of you, I am sure, will have seen pictures of vast spaghetti plantations in the Po Valley. For the Swiss, however, it tends to be more of a family affair. Another reason why this may be a bumper year lies in the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil, the tiny creature whose depredations have caused much concern in the past. After picking, the spaghetti is laid out to dry in the warm Alpine air. Many people are very puzzled by the fact that spaghetti is produced in such uniform lengths. This is the result of many years of patient endeavour by plant breeders who have succeeded in producing the perfect spaghetti. Now the harvest is marked by a traditional meal. Toasts to the new crop are drunk in these poccholinos, then the waiters enter bearing the ceremonial dish. This is of course spaghetti – picked early in the day, dried in the sun, and so brought fresh from garden to table at the very peak of condition. For those who love this dish, there is nothing like real home-grown spaghetti’.


Putting Couani on the Map

During the autumn of 1902, the President of Couani called a Press conference at his luxury Paris hotel. Some of the reporters had never heard of Couani and according to the President, Adolphe Brezet, that was the reason for the Press conference. Brezet explained that Couani had long been under the dominance of its powerful neighbour, Brail, but as it had now gained its independence he had been sent to Paris to inform the world of its existence. The President spoke so convincingly of his country, that the reporters believed him, and by the end of the year everyone in Paris had heard of Couani. Early in 1903, the first Couani embassy opened in Paris and this was soon followed by consulates in London, Rome, Berlin and Madrid. In 1904, Brezet had letters from both the Japanese and Russian governments. The two nations were at war and urgently needed more ships. Would it be possible, both nations wondered, for the famous Couani shipyards to build them? Somewhat unusually, Brezet took a while to reply. Meanwhile, the two countries checked up on Couani with their ambassadors in Brazil. Much to their surprise, they were informed that there was no such place.


Wet Phones

When people in north London received a telephone call from an engineer saying that there was a fault on the line, they believed him. He said that the fault could only be put right if the receiver was dunked in a bucket of water. Real telephone engineers had quite a job repairing wet telephones.

NOTE: This is a prank my husband pulled on his mom while he was in college.


Air Shortage

Overweight Americans were alarmed when it was announced that anyone weighing over 89 kilograms (14 stone) was to be deported. This drastic measure had become necessary, the newspaper reports said, because pollution was leading to a shortage of oxygen. As fat people consumed more than their fair share of air, they had to go. People realized that the proposal was a hoax when they discovered that the reports had been written by Alan Abel, a New Yorker who was well known for his amazing and successful practical jokes.


Upside-down Room

Rudolph Schenk was a rich American who loved to play jokes on people. He would often invite people to visit his luxurious home where he would treat them to a hearty meal and rather too much to drink. The guest would then be invited to stay the night to sleep off the effects of the alcohol. When the quest was sound asleep Schenk had him transferred to a specially-built room. The floor of the room was painted white, like a ceiling, and a chandelier rose up from it. The real ceiling was painted to look like floorboards and furniture was fixed to it. There were no windows in the room but Schenk had a secret spy hole through which he could watch what happened when the quest woke up to find himself in an upside-down room.

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