List of April Fools' Day jokes

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By tradition, in some countries, April 1 or April Fools' Day is marked by pranks and practical jokes. Notable practical jokes have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, web sites, and have been performed by large corporations.

Television stations[edit]

  • Spaghetti trees: The BBC television programme Panorama ran a hoax in 1957, showing Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They had claimed that the despised pest, the spaghetti weevil, had been eradicated. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees. It was, in fact, filmed in St Albans.[1] The editor of Panorama at the time Michael Peacock gave the go-ahead to the idea which was pitched by freelance camera operator Charles de Jaeger. Michael Peacock told the BBC in 2014 how he gave Charles de Jaeger a budget of £100 and sent him off. Mr Peacock said the respected Panorama anchorman Richard Dimbleby knew they were using his authority to make the joke work. Mr Peacock said Mr Dimbleby loved the idea and went at it with relish. [2] Decades later CNN called this broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled".[3]
  • In 1962, the Swedish national television broadcast a 5-minute special[4] on how one could get color TV by placing a nylon stocking in front of the TV. A rather in-depth description on the physics behind the phenomenon was included. Thousands of people tried it.
  • Smell-o-vision: In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odour over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success.[5] In 2007, the BBC website repeated an online version of the hoax.[6] As did Google in 2013, in tribute.
  • Great Blue Hill eruption prank: On April 1, 1980, Boston television station WNAC-TV aired a fake news bulletin at the end of the 6 o'clock news which reported that Great Blue Hill in Milton, Massachusetts was erupting. The prank resulted in panic in Milton, where some residents began to flee their homes. The executive producer of the 6 o'clock news, Homer Cilley, was fired by the station for "his failure to exercise good news judgment" and for violating the Federal Communications Commission's rules about showing stock footage without identifying it as such.[7][8][9]
  • In 2008, the BBC reported on a newly discovered colony of flying penguins. An elaborate video segment was even produced, featuring Terry Jones walking with the penguins in Antarctica, and following their flight to the Amazon rainforest.[10]
  • Netflix April Fools' Day jokes include over-detailing categories of films,[11][12] and adding original programming made up entirely of food cooking.[13] [14]

Radio stations[edit]

  • Jovian–Plutonian gravitational effect: In 1976, British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore told listeners of BBC Radio 2 that unique alignment of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull making people lighter at precisely 9:47 am that day. He invited his audience to jump in the air and experience "a strange floating sensation". Dozens of listeners phoned in to say the experiment had worked,[15] among them a woman who reported that she and her 11 friends were "wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room.[16]
  • Death of a mayor: In 1998, local WAAF shock jocks Opie and Anthony were discussing April Fool's Day hoaxes, and sardonically stated that Boston mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car accident. Menino happened to be on a flight at the time, lending credence to the prank as he could not be reached. The pair repeated that the mayor was dead several times throughout the broadcast, however listeners who tuned in late to the broadcast did not hear that they were repeating a bit, and when they pretended to tell the "news" to an unsuspecting listener (the listener thought she was calling a different show), the rumor spread quickly across the city, eventually causing news stations to issue alerts denying the hoax. The pair were fired shortly thereafter.[17]
  • In 1998, UK presenter Nic Tuff of West Midlands radio station pretended to be the British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he called the then South African President Nelson Mandela for a chat. It was only at the end of the call when Nic asked Nelson what he was doing for April Fools' Day that the line went dead.[18]
  • Archers theme tune change: BBC Radio 4 (2005): The Today Programme announced in the news that the long-running serial The Archers had changed their theme tune to an upbeat disco style.[19]
  • iBod: Every year, National Public Radio in the United States does an extensive news story on April 1. These usually start off more or less reasonably, and get more and more unusual. A recent example is the 2006 story on the "iBod," a portable body control device.[20] In 2008 it reported that the IRS, to assure rebate checks were actually spent, was shipping consumer products instead of checks.[21] It also runs false sponsor mentions, such as "Support for NPR comes from the Soylent Corporation, manufacturing protein-rich food products in a variety of colors. Soylent Green is People".[22]
  • Canadian three-dollar coin: In 2008, the CBC Radio program As It Happens interviewed a Royal Canadian Mint spokesman who broke "news" of plans to replace the Canadian five-dollar bill with a three-dollar coin. The coin was dubbed a "threenie", in line with the nicknames of the country's one-dollar coin ("loonie" due to its depiction of a common loon on the reverse) and two-dollar coin ("toonie").[23]
  • Country to metal: Country and gospel WIXE in Monroe, North Carolina does a prank every year. In 2009, midday host Bob Rogers announced he was changing his show to heavy metal. This resulted in numerous phone calls, about half from listeners wanting to request a song.[24]
  • U2 live on rooftop in Cork: In 2009, hundreds of U2 fans were duped in an elaborate prank when they rushed to a shopping centre in Cork believing that the band were playing a surprise rooftop concert. The prank was organised by Cork radio station RedFM. The band were a tribute band called U2opia.[25]

Newspapers[edit]

  • In The Guardian newspaper, in the United Kingdom, on April Fools' Day, 1977, a fictional mid-ocean state of San Serriffe was created in a seven-page supplement.[26]
  • A 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated, dated April 1, featured a story by George Plimpton on a baseball player, Hayden Siddhartha Finch, a New York Mets pitching prospect who could throw the ball 168 miles per hour (270 km/h) and who had a number of eccentric quirks, such as playing with one barefoot and one hiking boot. Plimpton later expanded the piece into a full-length novel on Finch's life. Sports Illustrated cites the story as one of the more memorable in the magazine's history.[27]
  • Associated Press were fooled in 1983 when Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University, provided an alternative explanation for the origins of April Fools' Day. He claimed to have traced the practice to Constantines' period, when a group of court jesters jocularly told the emperor that jesters could do a better job of running the empire, and the amused emperor nominated a jester, Kugel, to be the king for a day. Boskin related how the jester passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day and the custom became an annual event. Boskin explained the jester's role as being able to put serious matters into perspective with humor. An Associated Press article brought this alternative explanation to public's attention in newspapers, not knowing that Boskin had invented the entire story as an April Fool's Joke itself, and were not made aware of this until some weeks later.[28]
  • Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell". When asked about the sale, White House press secretary Mike McCurry replied tongue-in-cheek that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would henceforth be known as the Lincoln Mercury Memorial.[29]

Internet[edit]

Wikipedia's Main Page on April 1, 2007. The featured article write-up deliberately confuses US President George Washington with an inventor of the same name.

Other[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Still a good joke – 47 years on (BBC News, April 1, 2004)
  2. ^ BBC TV News interview with Michael Peacock 1/4/14...
  3. ^ By Saeed Ahmed CNN. "A nod and a link: April Fools' Day pranks abound in the news". CNN. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Instant Color TV, 1962". museumofhoaxes.com. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  5. ^ "April Fools' Day, 1965". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved March 29, 2007. 
  6. ^ BBC (April 1, 2007). "BBC Smell-o-vision". Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ Loohauls, Jackie (March 30, 1984). "These practical jokers didn't fool around". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Volcano joke ends in firing". Bowling Green Daily News. 3 April 1980. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Piot, Debra K. (4 April 1980). "TV station fires producer for airing April-fool prank". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Midgley, Neil (April 1, 2008). "Flying penguins found by BBC programme". London: Telegraph. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  11. ^ Kleinman, Alexis (1 April 2013). "Netflix April Fool's Day Prank: Implausibly Specific Categories". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Gupta, Prachi (1 April 2013). "Netflix’s April Fools’ Day categories". Salon. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Kolodny, Carina (1 April 2014). "We Would Actually Watch These Delicious Netflix Prank Shows". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Molina, Brett (1 April 2014). "Netflix may have won April Fool's Day". Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Fooling around, book extract in The Guardian dated March 30, 2007, online at books.guardian.com (Retrieved March 29, 2009)
  16. ^ "Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity -- April Fool's Day, 1976". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  17. ^ "Opie and Anthony: WAAF April Fools Day Prank Part 1". Youtube.com. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  18. ^ "Millennium TimeLine – 1998 April". Retrieved March 29, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Latest Reports". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  20. ^ Weekend Edition Saturday (April 1, 2006). "www.npr.org IBOD story". Npr.org. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  21. ^ Gagliano, Rico (April 1, 2008). "IRS making sure your rebate gets spent | Marketplace From American Public Media". Marketplace.publicradio.org. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  22. ^ Weekend Edition Sunday (April 8, 2007). "npr.org". NPR.org. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  23. ^ [1][dead link]
  24. ^ Mark Washburn, "Fewer Tuning in for Most Local News", The Charlotte Observer, April 4, 2009.
  25. ^ "No U2 on the horizon as fans rattled by hoax". Irish Independent. April 2, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Top Ten April Fools' Day Jokes". Metro. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  27. ^ Plimpton, George (April 1, 1985). "The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch". Sports Illustrated 62 (13): 58. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Origin and History of April Fools' day". 
  29. ^ "Entry at Museum of Hoaxes". Retrieved April 2, 2008. 
  30. ^ Raymond, E. S.: "The Jargon File", Kremvax entry, 2006
  31. ^ " April fool fairy sold on internet" from BBC News. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  32. ^ "The origin of the WOM – the "Write Only Memory"". Retrieved March 29, 2007. 
  33. ^ "April Fools' Day, 1993". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved April 2, 2008. 
  34. ^ "King's College Choir announces major change". Retrieved April 1, 2014. 

External links[edit]