Practical Jokes that Go too Far–Part 2

Posted on April 14, 2011


Many of you read Practical Jokes That Go Too Far-Part 1, and based on the comments it seems most readers agreed my friends have no sense of humor.  I was the wronged party, surrounded by ungrateful friends who failed to appreciate all the hard work and planning that went into my pranks.  Trust me, it takes more than a lunch break to train a fake SWAT team to kidnap and interrogate your best friend and his wife, tricking them into blaming each other for a crime neither of them committed.  It takes weeks and weeks of commitment every evening after work, and nobody thinks of all the time I missed with my kids (whose names escape me now), and all their sporting events I didn’t attend (I can’t remember which specific sports they play, but something with a ball sounds right).

As I mentioned previously, the most consistent criticism leveled against my jokes is that they ‘go too far’, a purely subjective benchmark which nobody has ever explained to my satisfaction.  How can a joke seem so funny in the planning stages and fall completely flat at the punchline?

Allow me to deconstruct one practical joke Todd cited as going too far:

1. I tricked Todd into believing his wife was killed in a car accident, Todd says this was too far, and not funny.

2. What if I’d only tricked him into believing his wife was paralyzed in a car accident?  This should be a little funnier, right?  According to Todd, still too far, still not funny.

3. What if I’d tricked him into believing his wife witnessed a car accident?  According to Todd, not too far, but not funny either.

4. What if I’d tricked Todd and his wife into watching The Fast and The Furious which features many car accidents?  According to Todd, not too far, not funny, and not a good movie.

I would be interested in your feedback in the comments section as to where the following practical jokes jumped the tracks.

What’s that at the bottom of the pool?

A. Climb the fence to the community pool during the night and drop a mannequin filled with cement into the deep end of the swimming pool.  Funny.

B. In the morning watch the lifeguards arrive, freak out, and make repeated attempts to pull up the mannequin to no avail.  Still funny.

C. One of the lifeguards drowns.  Not funny.

How can part B still make me laugh, but nobody in the community can dwell on anything but part C?  Why are the police and local media so determined to identify and punish someone who obviously had no criminal intention?

Think of it as a free colonoscopy, Earthman!

The alien abduction practical joke has always received mixed reviews.  I’ve pulled this prank multiple times and could never figure out why some friends laughed afterwards and others didn’t.  It finally struck me that the only people complaining were the ones who received anal probes.

The results are in: Your wife has cancer.

If Todd tells you he’ll be late to work because he’s accompanying his wife to the doctor’s office, doesn’t it sound funny to call her the next day and say her test results were in, and she has terminal cancer?  I realized too late I misunderstood the definition of ‘terminal’, assuming it held a meaning similar to ‘term’, which means a period of time to which limits have been set, as in ‘the president serves a four year term’.  I thought I was telling her she would have cancer for a four year term, but I guess terminal is pretty serious.  Still a little funny because I knew she’d get the real results later in the day, and everybody would laugh.  Unfortunately, because she was okay the doctor’s office felt no urgency to give the real results, and it took a whole week before the real doctor called and said she was alright.

And you want to hear the worst part?  Guess who had to cover for Todd while he missed work for a week?

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Posted in: Columns