Sticking a note on someone's back or coating a bar of soap in nail varnish are pretty harmless pranks, but sometimes practical jokes go way too far. Drawing a hard line at the the worst April Fools' Day pranks that aren't funny and should never be done is a good way to keep your friends and family happy. Seriously, if at any point you have to say, "it's just a prank," then the joke failed.
Any prank that physically hurts or seriously stresses out the intended victim is probably a bad idea. Just take a look at the weird world of YouTube prank videos to get a sense of just how far some people will take a bad idea. Then do the opposite. There's a pretty clear line between pulling a good-natured prank and just being mean to another person.
Maybe I sound like the curmudgeonly fun police, but there are better ways to get a laugh with your closest friends, family members, and coworkers. And this can still involve practical jokes. My favorite pranks are the ones that are so lame they just make the "victim" scratch their head and wonder why you even went to the trouble of doing it. So if you want to fill a cubicle with balloons or wrap someone's door frame in cling film, go right ahead.
1. Messing With Someone's Food
Don't mess with people's food. Seriously, it's sacred. Tricking vegetarians into eating meat, lacing brownies with laxatives, or swapping mayo for frosting on cupcakes are all pretty cruel tricks. Plus, you never know when someone's deeply help cultural or religious beliefs are on the line, not to mention the risk of food allergies. Leave food alone.
2. Causing Bodily Harm
OK, physical pranks can be funny within reason. But if you're putting the victim at serious risk of harm with a fall or something, rethink your pranking strategy.
This also goes for the YouTube pranks of tying people's shoes together and then fake-stealing their stuff. Why?
3. Faking A Pregnancy
Oof. This is such a loaded topic
I personally know several people who pulled the pregnancy prank. Most people just posted an ultrasound image to social media without comment, then clarified their non-pregnancy on April 2. But one girl I knew in high school launched into an hours-long conversation with her mom about a fake pregnancy, complete with tears and everything, before saying "April Fools'." Yeah.
Really, there are better ways to prank people. Pregnancy is such an emotionally loaded topic, and you never know when someone close is dealing with fertility issues, for instance. Just find another joke.
4. Faking A Serious Illness
Along these lines, faking any sort of serious illness is also a terrible and insensitive idea. It's also a crappy way to treat anyone who is actually struggling with health issues.
5. Tampering With Someone's Car
As with many pranks, it's the level of intensity that matters. Hiding a bunch of balloons in someone's trunk might be funny. Sticking a potato in the tailpipe and smothering the engine? Pass.
6. Targeting Something The Person Loves
Faking the disappearance of someone's pet or beloved family heirloom is totally messed-up. Even when the pet or thing is returned home safely later on, it's not funny at all to the person being pranked.
7. Making Racist, Sexist, Or Homophobic Pranks
If the "punchline" of your prank relies on some awful stereotype, just don't do it. Not only is it insensitive, but it's also lazy comedy. Seriously, you can come up with something more clever.
8. Invading Someone's Privacy
Leave people's passwords, PINs, and serious identifying information alone. Everyone is freaked out about privacy concerns enough already.
9. Messing With Someone's Suitcase
Oh, you want to slip a giant sex toy or some pepper spray into your friend's carry-on bag? Don't. Literally no one is in a laughing mood at the TSA check poi nt, and you're just wasting everyone's time.
10. Exploiting A Legit Phobia
An acquaintance of mine has a deep phobia of bugs, and one of her colleagues thought it would be hilarious to put a fake roach in her office. No, the incident just thoroughly disturbed her, and it made the colleague look like a total heel. Leave real phobias alone.
11. Cutting Someone's Hair
Giving someone an unwanted haircut or shaving off their eyebrows when they're asleep is not funny. It's just mean, so why not think of a better, less semi-permanent joke?
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