The Case for April Fools’ MonthSunday, April 1st, 2012
This 1st of April you might be told about an unexpected exam, social engagement or work deadline which is fast approaching. Perhaps, you’ll chance upon a blatantly satirical article masquerading as real news in the paper or online. Your friend might announce she just won the lottery. You’ll play along and then chuckle obligingly when the gags are predictably unmasked. Sadly, these snippets of real-life banality are becoming all too commonplace as a once-beloved holiday slips into mediocrity. April Fools’ Day has lost its edge, relying too heavily on politically-correct, good-natured pranks that seem tame even by Al Gore standards. The concept of a single day of foolishness, itself, is limiting since everyone knows the day is coming up and can easily anticipate being tricked. Most importantly, I think the holiday sends the wrong message to society by teaching people to be skeptical and have a light-hearted sense of humor about things. The lesson, instead, should be to fear human intentions and creativity, and distrust your community because it’s out to get you.
Once, during 8th grade algebra class, I got called up to the front of the class where my teacher was grading homework. She asked why I was causing trouble. It was just a few days after April 1st and so I told her that I was celebrating April Fools’ Week. She stared blankly and then gave me an ominous scowl (the kind, I might add, which math teachers excel at). April Fools’ Week never did pan out but today I’d like to present the case for something even better: April Fools’ Month. The holiday lasts all month and, in fact, beyond, since the actual end date is vaguely defined so as to surprise and exasperate a maximum amount of people. All kinds of pranks, gags, deceptions and extended traumas are welcome! Creativity and inclusion of all jokes is key (with special kudos to any PTSD you can induce or deep-seated phobias you can exploit in others).
The possibilities for interpersonal shenanigans are myriad, but I’ll list a few humble suggestions to get the ball rolling. Break-ups and divorces that seem gut-wrenchingly real, involve yelling, death threats, and the extended family, could carry on for the entire month before the climactic “April Fools’ Month!” If you’re an employer, consider telling workers they’ve passed their performance reviews and that their jobs are secure before brutally firing them in front of everyone the next day. That gag packs an extra comedic punch in this turbulent economy. Doctors, too, are encouraged to join in the fun by, for example, denying patients life-saving care for a couple weeks or telling them to draw names out of a hat because you can only treat one lucky patient before you take your trip to Maui. Falsely telling patients they have cancer is always in style but, this year, spice things up a bit by telling someone who actually has cancer that they’ve got a clean bill of health. Reveal the truth to them much later on, if at all. Referring elderly patients to death panels or a makeshift “gas chamber room” you can construct with some simple medical and construction supplies is sure to strike terror and/or laughter into the feeble hearts of many. Remember to drag the jokes out for as long as possible.
The ideas above might seem a bit fanciful for you but, luckily, there’s a host of simple pranks which work well on susceptible people like children, the elderly, blind and disabled. For instance, you could take a shit on a sleeping child’s face (extra points if it’s not your own) and then say it was an accident. Another great prank is to superglue a sleeping child’s hands and feet together. That one really gets a lot of bang for your buck, especially if the child’s autistic. The month would be a fantastic time to announce with a megaphone to schoolyards of children that Santa is a lie perpetuated by parents and the toy industry (the prank was set up by their parents long ago but you can reveal the punch line) or, if you’re feeling daring, deceive them into thinking that most adults lead stressed, depressed lives slaving away in arbitrary jobs before dying alone. A little gag you could perform on an elderly family member is to tell her she’s going to see a doctor and then drive her to an empty warehouse. Come back a week or two later and yell “April Fools’ Month!” You could also solemnly inform her that several family members tragically died in a fire while she was away, and that she missed the funerals. Disabled people are superb prank recipients. My personal favorite involves choosing a few local city buildings and equipping them with never-ending, M C Escher-style wheelchair ramps that loop around to where they began. Fun for hours/eternity. A final medical gag: If there’s a blind friend in your life you could hire some actors to play doctors and stage an elaborate, mock eye surgery complete with anesthesia. Once the friend recovers consciousness and is still blind, you joyously reveal the trick.
Since April Fools’ Day is mostly done on a personal level between friends and family, for April Fools’ Month I’d wholeheartedly encourage public pranks conducted via mass media. There’s a lot of untapped potential here. Mass scares by public officials on television (for example, radiation in the drinking water!, president announcing a new war, etc.) are sure to surprise and evoke laughter eventually. Of course, there’s already a number of long-standing pranks which could be jestingly exposed throughout the month: “There’s really no WMDs in Iraq. Oops!,” “Gulf of Tonkin? Yeah, we made that up!,” “Supply-side economics was something a bunch of coke-heads made up in the 70s,” having Bill Clinton divulge that “okay okay, I totally had sexual relations with that woman” or getting the pope to announce that “obviously a personal god doesn’t exist… Idiots!” Real hilarity would result from seeing some investment bank CEOs pledge on live television to give away most of their earnings to charity, only to come back on air the next day and gleefully exclaim “just kidding! Fuck you, America!” while they piss on a homeless family. The sky’s the limit!
I could go on and on but why belabor the point? If any of this has piqued your interest then please join me in advocating for legal recognition of April Fools’ Month. It’s a holiday whose time has come.
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