Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Fool me once, fool me twice

So we're pregnant. But don't tell our spouses that. Besides, we just got married so that we can break up. Or is it the other way around? Oh yeah, and the blog is going to become very Religious Right starting tomorrow.

Such is the life of anyone having any sort of interpersonal communications on April 1st. Every year, people see jokes, pranks, and outright lies being thrown around, simply for the purpose of shouting out a big, "Ha ha! Gotcha, sucker!" to their friends and associates. And every year, people make a bigger deal than they should out of the pranks that they fell victim to, and vow to get revenge by one-upping everyone the next year.

And that's part of the problem. People want to be better than others, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to fool people into falling for a trick. Now, some pranks are more easily spotted than others, but a well-formed one has an air of believability around it. Which is why the first paragraph today is something nobody would fall for. Just not pregnant... sorry.

Anyway, April Fool's brings out some of the best in people, utilizing their intelligence and cleverness to create a joke, and some of the worst in people, as they either intentionally look to sucker people in without regard for their feelings, or they react so negatively to the fact that they got suckered that it tears friendships apart.

Look, deciding to do something for April Fool's is a gigantic risk. Are you going to fall flat on your face? Are you going to lose friends out of the deal, whether you should or not? Is your joke going to go down in the history of April Fool's jokes, either positively or negatively? And how do you handle the fallout, after pulling off your stunt?

Of course, a large part of any April Fool's joke is working comedy into it. Part of what will make the joke work or not is your chosen audience, naturally. Some jokes will work better with certain people than they will with others. Some people will react much more strongly when the reveal happens. And some people just won't care. Unfortunately, you can't just ask your friends if they like Dane Cook or Demetri Martin before you start your prank (well, you can, but it's just a weird question to throw out there).

Just an opinion here, but one way to make a successful joke is to try and craft one that will leave everyone happy at the end. That includes the victims. You may think your joke was successful if you can pull the wool over their eyes and cry, "Gotcha", but if anyone isn't laughing (or able to see the humor) at the end of it, you may be working under a different definition of success than we are. Then again, that may be exactly what you were going for.

Now, this may seem hypocritical, given the nature of most of our posts, but we try and keep things somewhat good-natured in our posts. We'd like to think that, if the actual subjects read us, they would see the humor we're aiming for, and accept the ridiculous that we've inserted. If not (and it has happened), we pull the entry, offer an apology, and move on. We know we can't please all of the people, but we're trying to keep anyone from getting offended by whatever we say. And one way we try and do that is by not trying to make ourselves out to be leaps and bounds smarter than the subjects, simply because we have more information (well, with the exception of drug runners who decide to get involved in traffic violations. That's just stupid). After all, if you go out of your way to prove that you're smarter than someone, didn't you just sort of prove the exact opposite?

All that being said, we support people trying to pull of pranks and jokes today. We also support people trying to pull of pranks and jokes other days of the year. We think it might help lighten things up a bit (even if we can't generally plan them ourselves). But we'd like to see pranks and jokes that are less on the "gotcha" factor, and more focused on the "everyone can laugh about the ridiculous thing" factor.

Who knows? It might actually end up being fun, too.

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