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Practical Joke

A practical joke, also known as a prank, is a classic form of comedy that involves deceiving, confusing, or embarrassing someone for the sole purpose of making yourself laugh. The practical joke has a rich history that stretches back to ancient civilizations, and its appeal continues to this day.


The first recorded practical joke dates back to ancient Egypt, where a scribe caused a stir by switching the signs on two prominent officials’ offices, leading to confusion and hilarity. The ancient Greeks and Romans also got in on the action, with practical jokes featuring heavily in plays and festivals.

In medieval Europe, the Lord of Misrule was a popular figure during the Feast of Fools, where he would play practical jokes on the court and the commoners alike. During the Renaissance, practical jokes became more elaborate, with court jesters and rascals pulling pranks that involved tricking people into embarrassing situations.

Types of Practical Jokes

There are countless types of practical jokes, ranging from simple gags to elaborate, high-tech schemes. Here are just a few examples:

The Classic Prank Call

A timeless classic, where you call someone and pretend to be someone else, all while keeping a straight face.

The Fake Spider

Placing a realistic-looking spider in some unsuspecting victim’s desk or bed makes for an unforgettable surprise.

The Whoopie Cushion

The ultimate in low-tech humor, the whoopie cushion is a classic gag that never fails to elicit a chuckle.

The Fake-Out Package

Sending an unexpected package to someone filled with innocent-looking but absurd items is a hilarious way to make somebody’s day.

Famous Practical Jokes

Over the years, many famous practical jokes have been played, some of which have become legendary.

The Great Moon Hoax

In 1835, the New York Sun ran a series of articles claiming that a group of astronomers had discovered life on the moon. The hoax was eventually revealed, but not before many people had fallen for the story.

The BBC Spaghetti Harvest

In 1957, the BBC aired a report about the annual spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. Millions of viewers believed the report, which showed footage of spaghetti trees being harvested by workers.

The Left-Handed Whopper

In 1998, Burger King ran an ad claiming they were introducing a new sandwich called the Left-Handed Whopper, specially designed for left-handed people. The ad was a hoax, but many people showed up at Burger King asking for the sandwich.


Practical jokes have been with us for centuries, and they remain a beloved form of comedy to this day. Whether you’re the prankster or the victim, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of pulling off a successful practical joke. Just remember to keep it harmless, and never cross the line into cruelty or harm.