Practical Jokes that Go too Far

Posted on April 1, 2011

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whoopee cushion

April Fools Day!
The one day of the year set aside for pranks and practical jokes.
The one day of the year I set aside to remind myself never to play a practical joke again.

I used to come up with the best ideas for practical jokes.  I’d work so hard to develop an elaborate hoax, but the targets of my jokes never thought they were funny and didn’t appreciate all the hard work I put into planning such elaborate schemes.  Even if they didn’t find the jokes funny, they should be flattered that I chose them worthy of so much work.  Common courtesy would assume I’d get an occasional thanks or a nice card, but I’m still waiting.

It wouldn’t bother me if the targets of my jokes didn’t immediately find the jokes funny.
Sometimes it takes a moment to get over the shock of being tricked, and you need a few minutes to see the humor.
And sometimes you need a few years to see the humor.
And in the case of my friends, I’m not sure the exact amount of time required because none of them are talking to me anymore.

The most consistent criticism leveled against my jokes is that they ‘go too far’. Of course this is purely subjective, and neither the judiciary nor the Bible provide any practical joke benchmark for ‘going too far.’ If someone plays a joke on me, custom dictates I should respond with a bigger and better joke, an escalation if you will. The definition of whether my joke is 10% meaner than your joke or 50% meaner, is purely open for interpretation. For example:

Todd fills my dog’s mouth with whipping cream.  (He started with the first joke and has to be expecting me to come up with something that tops him.)
I put a fish in the heating vents of his car. (Escalation estimate 10-20%)
Todd responds by letting the air out of my tires. (Escalation estimate 15-20%)
I trick him into believing his wife was killed in a car accident. (My escalation estimate 15-20%; Todd’s escalation estimate 100%)

I’ve been told each of the following jokes were taking things ‘too far’, but I just don’t see it:

“Get to the hospital! A matching kidney will be there in 15 minutes!”

Tim was sitting in a wheelchair on the hospital curb when a fake delivery guy raced up and set the Styrofoam kidney cooler on the sidewalk.
“Are you Tim Armstrong? Looks like this is your lucky day,” he said while Tim wiped a tear from his eye.
Right then I drove up onto the curb and ran over the cooler. You should have seen the look on Tim’s face when I jumped out of the car carrying a bunch of balloons and flowers while he stared in shock at the crushed cooler beneath my car.
We all laughed and laughed…except for Tim. I think it took him awhile to understand that it wasn’t a real kidney I ran over.

“My heart pills taste funny…”

Replacing heart disease medication with candy is not funny. Apparently heart disease is more serious than it sounds.  In my defense, I am not a doctor, and when Mom said Dad had a bad heart I assumed she meant figuratively.
When Dad ultimately did have a heart attack, I couldn’t help but feel partly responsible.

“Your wife and I are having an affair!”

I volunteered to babysit Todd’s kids and took the opportunity to leave love notes from a Fernando all over the house and sprayed Donna’s clothes with cheap cologne.
It was funny when Todd came into work pale and disheveled.
Still funny when Todd hired a private investigator to tail Donna.
Not funny when Todd stabbed the Fernando from Diego’s Deli.

Is it just me, or do my friends seem really ungrateful for all the work I put in to try and make them laugh?
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Posted in: Columns