April Fools’ Day jokes and pranks from around the world

What’s the best day to propose? April Fools’ Day.

Get a yes, you’re good to go, a ‘no’ and you can claim it’s an April Fools’ Day joke (and maybe die of embarrassment on your own time).

Most European countries and their colonies celebrate some sort ‘official’ day for harmless pranks and jokes, and ours, like the UK’s, is 1 April. The history is all a bit murky and goes back to the 16th century.

Perhaps one of the most famous April Fools’ Day pranks is also one of the most cringe-worthy considering how far food culture has come. In 1957, the BBC broadcast a television show showing farmers picking freshly grown spaghetti and the station was soon flooded with requests on how to buy a spaghetti tree. It was a simpler time. The BBC calmly told all callers to put some spaghetti in a can of tomatoes and hope for the best.

It seems those whacky pranksters at the BBC are serial offenders because they had a similar success in 1965 with ‘Smell-O-Vision’, a new technology that apparently wafted odour from the television. Once again it was flooded with calls, many reporting it was already working.

But it’s been going for centuries. In 1698, people were tricked into going to watch the ‘washing of the lions’ at the Tower of London. Nothing like making time for a bit of blood sport in the days before television.

In 1708, writer Jonathan Swift created an almanac predicting the death of astronomer John Partridge in March of that year. Poor Partridge had to spend the rest of his life proving he wasn’t dead. In fact, death might have come as something of a relief.

A favourite April Fools’ Day gone wrong is the UK DJ who announced there was a ship resembling the Titanic off the shore at East Sussex. So many people went to look that all the foot traffic caused the cliff face to crack and a few days later a large slab of it fell into the sea. Awkward.

My own suffering came when work colleagues filled my first car, a tiny little two-seater hatchback, with a week’s worth of shredded paper from the office. I drove home with the windows down and the sound of rustling.

Anyway, here are a few ideas for April Fools’ Day pranks.

  • Give everything in someone’s fridge a pair of googly eyes. There’s probably something at the back that’s coming to life anyway.
  • Coat a door handle in Vaseline, and watch from a secluded spot as some chump tries to open the door.
  • The classic fake dog poo. Take it up a notch by making your own from chocolate – or chocolate mixed with crunchy butter for extra texture – to taste in front of the prankee for extra points.
  • Play the long game. Write something freaky underneath the carpet for the next person who owns the house. Nothing says prank like a creepy message written in ‘blood’, or a permanent marker for those on a budget, to get the adrenaline pumping.
  • Stick a picture of something weird on a friend’s side-view mirror. A hairy spider or someone trying to break in. Worth a few seconds of terror at least.
  • The plastic spider or cockroach in various locations never goes out of fashion. In the toilet paper, on top of a door, in a coat pocket, the options are only limited to your imagination.

And finally, an actual joke about pranks for Friday Funnies.

A couple of pranksters broke into the local police station and stole all the toilet seats. A spokesperson was quoted as saying: “We have nothing to go on.”

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Written by Jan Fisher

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