April 1st is the holiday for tomfoolery. Merry pranksters never rue this day. Uncertainty surrounds the origins of the designation of April 1st as a day to pull shenanigans and practical jokes with impunity. Iran has a practical joke day (who’d-of-thunk it?) called Sizdah Bedar. This day falls during Nowruz (Iranian New Year) and is usually on, or about, April 1st. It has been celebrated since a little before 500 B.C. which breeds speculation that this was the genesis of April Fools’ Day. I would’ve never guessed the Ayatollahs were big on practical jokes.
In France, Quebec and Italy, there is an April Fools’ Day tradition of trying to pin paper fish on peoples’ backs without being detected. Like George McFly in the movie “Back to the Future”, I was usually a pretty easy mark for the “kick me” sign prank during my early school years. I just thought everyone wanted to pat me on the back. I can just imagine myself as a school child in France. The multitude of fish pinned to my back would’ve caused me to be attacked by a herd of feral cats!
April Fools’ Day pranks run the gamut from simple set-ups concocted to amuse a few, to elaborately engineered, mass impact hoaxes involving credible celebrity verifiers, trusted media outlets Government officials, agencies, departments and even branches of the Armed Forces. Large, well known multi-national corporations and prominent movie production companies have even joined the hijinks of the super-dupers. Some of these jokes play out and are exposed within minutes – other, more believable schemes can last days, or even years often taking on death defying, legendary lives of their own.
Some of the best April Fools’ pranks are the ones where uninvolved parties, upon hearing of the prank, join in the ruse and add their own twist. Do you remember the Taco Bell stunt from April 1st 1996? It was awesome! Taco Bell’s corporate offices took out a full page ad in the New York Times (that cost a couple of bucks) announcing they had purchased the Liberty Bell in an effort to help reduce the National Debt. They said the bell would be renamed the “Taco Liberty Bell” and would be used in advertising. Of course, this caused the White House to be sucked in by the flood of angry phone calls they received. The press secretary at that time joined right in the prank by announcing, with tongue-in-cheek, that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would be renamed the “Lincoln Mercury Memorial’! No one was really hurt, and everyone had a great laugh.
That’s the point we mustn’t miss – laughter is great medicine, and, when laughter is the healing prescription, everyone enjoys playing “doctor”! When it comes to dispensing those comedic pills that get the endorphins flowing, we don’t care if we’re laughing with the crowd, or we’re the ones making the crowd laugh – everyone’s heart-health is improved and we deepen those little laugh lines on our faces that show we love to be April’s Fools.
© 2014 Curt Savage Media