Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 8: For practical joke purposes

Today, I laughed at: my boyfriend reading Mindy Kaling's book aloud.
Technically, this was last night, but it was at 1 a.m. and this deserved to be documented.
The other night, I had my keys in my hand and I went to rub my eye, not even thinking, "Hmm, keys near my eyes could be a mistake." One of my keys went into my eye and it had been bothering me through the next day. After copy editing for eight hours, my eyes were both pretty tired and all I wanted to do was put some drops in and go to sleep, but I also wanted to continue reading Mindy Kaling's book, "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)" I've been enjoying. The boyfriend, feeling bad for me and my eye, offered to read it outloud to me. (He really is the greatest.) I accepted the offer and I got to hear the boyfriend reading the first-hand account of how Mindy Kaling made a great babysitter because she could talk for hours with her charges about which member of *NSYNC she would want to marry. I'm not sure if it was hearing about how Justin Timberlake was too flashy that made me laugh or the boyfriend pronouncing JC Chasez phonetically ("JC Chazzes") that had me laughing more.

Day 8. That's a big milestone. By my calculations, I'm more than a quarter of the way through this challenge of laughing every day and, more importantly, writing about it every day.

When I thought about being a quarter of the way through, I then thought about quarters. More specifically, tracing around a quarter's with a pencil and challenging someone to see if they can roll the quarter down his or her face, leaving a line no matter if they succeed. It was featured in an episode of "Friends" even, so you know it's good.

Why are practical jokes as popular as they are? They're mean, they victimize someone, and, yes, although the laughter potential is high, I can attest to a certain level of guilt I feel at someone else's expense.

It seems practical jokes are something people don't grow out of. Office practical jokes seemed to become mainstream once Tim/Jim put Garreth's/Dwight's stapler in Jell-O. All of a sudden, practical jokes in the workplace were popping up all over YouTube.

As if people needed another excuse to play practical jokes, April 1 opens everyone up to be victims of these. At least one internet hoax gets me almost every year, in fact. Google Paper, I'm looking at you! And the announcement of "Harry Potter 8" just seemed too good to be true, although I hoped it wasn't. Alas, stupid April 1. All sneaky and such.

It's weird to think about how many characteristics go into making a successful practical joke. Gullibility, intelligence, suspension of logic, trust, mistrust, happiness, anger, sadness, etc. This goes for the prankster, prankee and bystanders.

Come to think of it, Shakespeare loved practical jokes. But, then again, you have an audience full of bystanders and, when you consider the actors, everyone is in on the jokes. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is just one big practical joke, I think. (Anyone else ever wonder if Punk from "The Real World: San Francisco" got his nickname from Shakespeare's character? And then you look at him and ask yourself, "Does he even know who Shakespeare's Puck is? Does he even know who Shakespeare is?)

Practical jokes pretty have their place in society and I don't think they'll go away anytime soon. It's always a case of schadenfreude, especially if it happens to someone in a position of power, especially if the popular judgment of this person is, "they have it coming."

I think keeping some criteria in mind for practical jokes can make it enjoyable for everyone.
  • Find someone who has a sense of humor as the prankee.
  • Playing a joke leaves you open to retaliation. Be prepared for "revenge."
  • Make sure it's not physically endangering a person.
  • It's not cool to joke about someone's legitimate fears.
  • Don't let it go on too long.