Jokes: A practical application

          There are jokes that get spoiled upon explanation: "It's humorous because the character is acting in a manner that is generally regarded as stereotypical." For practical jokes, or pranks, the opposite is true. Telling the story of how a prank came to be conceived, how it was crafted, and how it inevitably came crashing down is an art form. Indeed, retelling this story transforms an afternoon's hi-jinks into the stuff of legend.

Now, before this year I never considered myself to be a prankster. I avoided trodding on toes, and was quick to smooth over faux-pas or other transgressions. However, upon my return to campus, something within me flipped. I realized that, since time heals all wounds, all will be forgiven if the joke is funny enough. After all, who would turn down the chance to be immortalized in legend? 
Based on my experiences, I have codified a few rules of pranking that I would encourage any up-and-comer to follow:
First, no irreversible actions. Nothing broken, nothing you can't reconstruct deconstructed. You break it, you buy it.
Next, no long term effects. No way will the joke be funny the thirtieth, fortieth time it comes around, so don't go there.
Finally, no grudges. Don't play a prank on a person you don't like: It is the path to ruin. The best idea is to let someone else pick the targets. Then they know you don't mean them any harm!
It's been a busy semester so far, but I've managed to cram in a solid prank or two, and I have a number of others brewing.
          I started out small. Over the summer, the president of Games club (Paul, 2013) okayed the purchase of a gigantic chess set - each square the size of a regular board. With the help of a new freshman friend (who might wish to remain anonymous), I set up the board and pieces in someone's room while they were away. We moved the white king's pawn forward and attached a note to the door: "Your move," it said.
No damages, no lasting effects, no vindictiveness. Check, check, checkmate.
          My next prank took a little more organization. I found three sets of roommates who would be occupied for a given two-hour period. I assembled fifteen able-bodied men and women, and we began to move things. We took all of X's furniture + accessories (half the room!) out of the fourth floor, down to Y's room on the second floor. Y's things went to Z's room on the third floor, and Z's filled the gap in X's room. A perfectly orchestrated switch. The furniture lined up, and the new roommate pairings turned out quite well too. They only ended up switching back weeks later!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the excellent pranks played thus far by others in my community, which involve stringing up a classmate's personal belongings in accordance with creepy poems, and also (another time) flipping her entire room upside down and affixing it to the ceiling. Lots of respect.
There were many others, but I won't detract from these tales with lesser pranks. Still, there are two more stories to tell. One will be a surprise even to me: At this year's SERV auction (organized by our student community service group, in which individuals donate goods and services) I contributed a 'Prank the Person of your Choice' item, promising my skills, time, and craftiness for a practical joke of undetermined proportions. This one is still up in the air.
          The other prank is ongoing. It is different in that it fell into my lap, and I perpetuate it by doing absolutely nothing. I am helped by the members of my community, all but one of whom know the truth. We are colluding to pull a prank on one person: Kendall (2013). 
I took FBE (an introduction to business course that is a graduation requirement at Olin) last semester. Remembering it fondly, I decided at the beginning of this semester to drop by and see how the current class was doing. During one hectic activity involving Lego, I went in and congratulated Kendall on her innovation, and then briefly spoke with my old professor. I thought nothing of the encounter, but later that week, I was informed by a mutual friend that Kendall had been led to believe that I was a teaching assistant (a 'Ninja' as they are known here). Sensing my opportunity, I resolved to convince her of the fact. I insinuated myself onto class mailing lists by again speaking with her professor. I made sure to chat with her about her impressions of the class and offered what advice I could. I even sat in on a few of the more interesting lectures!
The prank vaunted to even greater proportions just as the month-long 'FBE challenge' was starting up. There were seven groups and five legitimate Ninjas who would 'invest' in each company and provide them with immediate feedback and advice. The professor would have taken two companies on, so when Kendall's group was one of two remaining unpaired, I swooped in and snagged it! Her teammates were more than happy to play along with the joke. For the duration of the 'challenge', I consciously avoided doing any work for this class. The team got their advice from their professor, as they would have had I not intervened. The kicker is that, during their summary presentations, Kendall was the team member in charge of reporting on their successful 'investor relations.'
Kendall still has no idea that I am not a 'ninja' for her FBE class. 
If you know her, please don't tell her. 
Believe me, I'll be getting to that soon enough.
I don't believe she reads this blog anymore, but if she does... 
Gotcha! 
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