Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Serious Discussion on the Topic of Shenanigans

I am a fan of a good prank. I’m not speaking of the old bucket of water above the door or stapler in Jell-o type of prank either. Those, besides being messy and destructive to office supplies, are mainly just rudimentary visual gags. Blunt tools on par with other low forms of humor like sarcasm and watching people run into things in public (oh, don’t try to deny the comedy in that).

Good pranks require a bit of participatory thinking on the part of the parties involved. For instance, iTunes was allowing people to download the first movement of John Cage’s 4’33” for free yesterday. It confused the people who didn’t get the joke (sample review: “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU GUYS BUT I CAN’T HEAR ANYTHING…”) and amused those that did (sample review: “…they really should have offered the remastered version”). Plus, they did it a day ahead of when people would expect such a thing. Perhaps the funniest part is that you can buy the “whole piece” for $1.98. Which actually makes me believe it might not have been a prank at all.

And that’s actually the point. You should be confused by a prank. It needs to create an un/believable reality, otherwise it lacks impact. There is an artist named Banksy who snuck his own art into museums on numerous occasions. People admired an “authentic cave painting” of a shopping cart and a portrait of a 17th century French nobleman holding a can of spray paint for days without realizing they were fakes. For days! That’s genius… though most likely it’s also illegal.

But the day for such shenanigans is almost over and I haven’t heard of any really good ones yet. I have, however, spent the last two hours trying to clean Jell-o out of my stapler. Bump up your game folks. Bump up your game.
posted by jw