by Executive Chef, Rycke Foreman
Sadly, the American corporate engine is slowly but surely sterilizing Halloween, but believe it or not, kiddies, back in the day, All Hallows' Eve was as much about the Tricks as it was the Treats.
Here are thirteen classic pranks for your consideration. They may not be on the cutting edge anymore, but they still get the blood a-pumpin'!
WARNING: Many of these high jinks are dangerous, illegal, or both. Performing them could cause physical harm to you and/or others, destruction of property, and/or result in arrest, fines and prosecution. Plus, it might get you punk'd back ten times as hard...
- Punkin' Pilfering
Who hasn't seen a few dozen smashed pumpkins littering the roads and sidewalks the day after Halloween? While destruction runs all the way up 69FoP's alley, we give a special tip of the jester's cap to those who put more effort into their escapades.
Occasionally, the inspired will arrange a throng of jack-o'-lanterns into a graveside service, various crime scenes, or bits from their favorite scary movies in places like public parks, neighbors' yards, schoolyards, rooftops and roadway intersections.
More time consuming, but paying dividends in pure muckery, is picking a nearby jack-o'-lantern to carve n' copy each day on successively smaller (or bigger) pumpkins, and then switch them out. Simpler horseplay is as easy as swapping the decor between porches.
- The Scarecrow Scare
All Saints' Eve is always the best time for murder, since scarecrows, skeletons and dead bodies are the norm in half the yards on the block. Because murder isn't (usually) funny, however, we'll focus on the other way to exploit the plentifully fearful fauna.
Tricksters can set it up by planting, say, a scarecrow near the sidewalk days or weeks in advance, getting the neighborhood used to the idea that a disguised figure is going to be lurking in that spot. Just before the little monsters start roaming the streets for Halloween, funsters costume up and take the dummy's spot, ready to pounce.
Popping out of a coffin or the ever-popular nearby bush is always an acceptable substitution for those with limited training as assistant statue, but scaring tiny tots is typically frowned upon. It's also customary to wait until potential victims are on their way out, unless the prankster was too chintzy to actually spring for candy.
- Evil Eggings
Quite possibly the oldest yolk...er, joke in the book, a good egging is still one of the best. It's the gag that keeps on giving--with just a few hours in the sun, victims will wish they'd gone with no-stick siding.
Those looking for a little extra zing in their splash inject dyes and paints before chucking. Others wait patiently for their eggs to ripen over a few weeks, but chuck them with the utmost caution, lest they wind up with the proverbial egg (and rotten, no less) on their own face.
Schemers can score a "twofer" by not telling their cohorts that they'd boiled the eggs for a change, which is very loud when smashing on the walls and through the windows during a nighttime raid. Comrades will be scrambling one way while homeowners scramble another.
- Mailbox Madness
ANOTHER WARNING: Tampering with, or putting anything other than legitimate mail into anyone's mailbox is a felony, according to the U.S. Code Title 18, Section 1705.
In the summertime, a popular gag (and we mean that in every sense of the word, in this case) is to put a dead fish into a mailbox on Saturday night. Come Monday, after a day and a half of baking in that tiny (and often black or metal) oven-under-the-summer-sun, whoever opens it will never again fling another open with such reckless impunity.
Of course, filling them with anything can be quite funny: confetti, concrete, snow, snakes, spiders and insects, dildos (if it's a vibrator, turn it on!), used jockstraps, a tape recording of ferocious animals, and/or anything gooey or pungent. A fake winning lottery ticket sent through the USPS is both legal and funny.
Mailbox baseball remains a popular pseudo-sport among teens and drunks; letterboxes have been superglued shut, blown up, repainted, physically moved to other locations and mysteriously replaced, all in the name of a joke that could earn you unlimited fines and up to 5 years in prison (where you need to guard your own mail-drop very closely).
- Toilet Paper Trouble
TPing someone's trees, house or car is undoubtedly the reigning champ in the practical joke arena--especially if rain is in the forecast. Nothing makes a Weeping Willow look sadder than embarrassing shreds of toilet paper sticking out of its Plantae...
Creative types may spend hours unraveling and coloring the tissue with bright dyes or permanent markers, wrapping each individual branch of a tree, or making fancy bows and smiley faces on bushes and roofs.
Patient pranksters will spend hours shredding rolls to coat lawns with a sheet of charmin' white snow. In dry weather spells, a lawn sprinkler is a wonderful substitute for April showers.
- The Hexed X
Starting in Biblical times with what every Egyptian parent wished was a prank, modern Marked-door Mysteries generally result in more laughter (for the jokesmith), and less weepy grieving (for everybody else). Fans of Twilight Zone's "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" tend to favor this one.
By placing chalk marks somewhere on or around the front doors of the neighboring community, gagmen have incited area gossips to speculate upon half-baked government conspiracies, fears of local mafia, and even the possibility of God's judgmental finger pointing their way.
Different colored chalk, spray paint, or even stickers can create a feeling among the victims of somehow being market for further segregation. Practitioners of voodoo have sent warnings with door and wall markings--often in blood--though they may also be accompanied by the remains of sacrificial animals.
- Toilet Tricks
There are almost too many to pick from, let alone include in a few hundred words, but a simple sheet of plastic wrap smoothed over the bowl and under the seat can really piss off--and on--the poor sap who's next in line; it also has equally surprising, yet highly different results between men and women who need to free the legless dog to sea.
Thin coats of pancake syrup, vegetable oil and Tabasco sauce smeared on the seat can have varying hilarious results. A few well placed hairs or cotton strands taped across the seat can get willies workin' up and down the spine like a concert flautist's fingerjob, especially if the mark is already disoriented because the joker unscrewed all the light bulbs for the night.
Scamps have filled the bowls with gelatin when they knew the toilet would have a few free hours to set. Others buy "Toilet Monsters" that attach to the bottom side of the lid and pop out when lifted, which, I'd imagine, quite literally scares the shit of out certain people. Gag toilet paper is usually a cleaner approach to toilet humor...
- Vehicular Vengeance
In America, few things elicit a deeper rage from people than someone else messing with their car. Slapping a Democratic bumper sticker on a Republican's car or a Gay Pride logo on a conservative preacher's rear window can get a wiseacher shot just as fast as getting caught hotwiring the same vehicle.
In spite of the dangers, debate rages on as to whether potatoes, bananas or whipped eggs are truly the best thing to shove/pour into the tailpipe of an idling vehicle. Flinging a splotch of Vasoline onto a windshield can bear an uncanny resemblance to a gunshot, and silver Christmas tinsel spit-glued to a window is often mistaken for a crack.
Movies like Porky's, Real Genius and Jackass feature some side-splitting sabotage committed to our precious four-wheeled friends. A search for "car pranks" on the internet yields hundreds of high-speed videos, pictures and first person accounts of vandalized vehicles.
- Water Wrongs
An oldie-but-goodie is to balance a cup (not glass!) on a slightly opened door, then kick back and wait for the next drip to come strutting through. NOTE: Newly-styled family members just home from the salon truly loathe this brand of mischief.
Another time-honored trap will have a photographer take a person or group outside "for better light," where accomplices wait on the roof with brimming buckets and water balloons.
Dribble cups can be made quickly and cheaply with a disposable tumbler. Cranking the showerhead around to spray the next bather is nice and simple (and reminiscent of rigging the veggie sprayer in the kitchen), while filling the nozzle with dyes and inks or replacing the shampoo with Nair can leave victims marked for months.
- Funny Feces
Wags who trained their dogs (or themselves) to deficate straight into paper bags truly rejoiced once they discovered grouchy old men like to do the Truffle Shuffle on said bags when placed on front porches and set ablaze. The musky, yet penetrating afterscent is just one more bonus for the prankee to enjoy as they scrape the steaming scat from their soles.
Jokers with access to their quarry's homes may drop some into the oven after turning it on, or conceal a heaping pile inside a heater duct, under a bed, up in ceiling panels, or inside shoes and coat pockets. College roommates have found extra photos on their cameras when they develop their film, showing their "old pals" mistaking their favorite toothbrush for a rectal thermometer.
Fake poop is a cleaner way to disgust loved ones, as any Novelty Store is sure to point out. A diaper full of chocolate syrup or refried beans evokes some amazing gut reactions when tossed at someone, and the classic candy bar in the swimming pool will always clear 'em out...
- Novelty Items
Just off the top of my head, our glorious world offers the aforementioned fake poo, toilet paper and lottery tickets, in addition to realistic body parts, plastic vomit puddles, whoopee cushions, ice cubes with nasties in them, shaped ice cubes, joy buzzers, itching powder, sneezing powder, laughing mirrors, disappearing ink, ink-squirting pens, insulting parking tickets, arrow-thru-head, nail-thru-finger, fart spray, stink bombs, trick gum, pepper gum, electroshock gum packs, electric jolt lighters, exploding cigars, squirting lighters, squirting lapel flowers, rubber chickens, jumping beans, switchblade combs, rubber knives, retractable daggers, hot toothpicks, fake cigarettes, cigarette no-light sticks, cigarette ash cloud tablets, fake rocks, staining soaps, stinky soaps, pep candy, jalapeño jellybeans, loaded dice, marked card decks, chattery teeth, plastic vampire teeth, the Groucho get-up, "Rattlesnake eggs," plastic bugs n' snakes n' lizards, growing dino/boyfriend/alien, instant shirt/towel, slime, X-Ray glasses, rearview-mirrored glasses, googly-eyed glasses, finger "cutters," sticky stretch hands, fortune fish, finger traps, wobbling golf balls, remote controlled spiders, water-pressure snakes and many, many more...
Even small bombs can make for all kinds of merriment, like blowing off a couple of fingers, scaring old men into heart attacks or military vets into flashbacks, and creating precious memories of the times you could still see, before the Rorschach firesplotch in your hand welded your eyelids shut and blew off a couple of fingers, giving you a sweet right hook.
Back in the day, a cherry bomb in the school plumbing was equally effective in earning laughs and a day off of school as was a phony bomb threat, though nowadays--eh, not so much. The word "bomb" lost a lot of stock in the comedy world after the turn of last century, and labels like "terrorist," "felon" and "little bitch" (as in the phrase, "This is my little bitch," which is often uttered by large prison inmates) have taken a toll on this dying art.
Still, there's something utterly hilarious about watching the first poor sucker to pass out at the party trying to dance away from the string of firecrackers tied to his leg.
While technically not a prank--at least, it's not on the books as one just yet--the general consensus among the public is that someday, someone is going to Youtube the video of themselves slipping their best friend a Sweet Micky, which will be the nickname for the Haitian powder the uploader picked up while traveling the world in search of a better high and then dumped in his friend's beer for one helluva practical joke at the welcome back party.
"Surprise, dude--yer dead! Hawhahahahaha... Man, you oughtta see the look on your face, hahaha. It's so stupid. hahaha. And I--heh heh--I got it all on video, every time you fall down hawhahaha. Hey everyone...hahaha...you gotta come see--hey, what the hell're you doing, man?! Get offa my brain!! Gaaaaahhh--"
Then it's on like Donkey Kong, at least if he were singing the old song: "I started a joke/that got the whole world laughing." That's right, apers, zombification will be the joke heard 'round the world--but it won't just leave 'em rolling in the aisles, it'll absolutely kill!