Anatomy of an April Fool’s Joke
For the third year in a row I did an April Fool’s joke on April 1. For the third year in a row, an abnormally large number of people seem to have fallen for it, at least for a little while. This year I was sort of shocked at how many people said they fell for it, some of whom said they believed it for several hours (they clearly didn’t read the comments!)
Probably the greatest April Fool’s day joke ever perpitrated was the 1985 Sports Illustrated article by George Plimpton: The Curious Case of Sid Finch. He tells the story of a Harvard drop out who goes to Tibet and comes back years later after having learned to throw a baseball 150 mph. It had all the great hallmarks of a great April Fool’s joke. It gave some subtle clues that it was a joke (take the first letter of each word in the introduction), it was hard to believe but not so crazy that it was impossible to believe, and at no point did he give away the joke in the entire article.
I had actually this joke in mind for months and was even going take it one step further. I was going to find the ugliest ladyboy I could find in Bangkok and shoot a video, such that anyone who saw it would realize that the ladyboy was in fact a man. Unfortunately, my video camera is broken, so I went with what I did. (more…)