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Five Harmless Practical Jokes

Updated on February 16, 2008

I love to play jokes on people, as my old roommates can grimly tell you. Don’t worry, I’m not an evil practical joker (no buckets of pig blood for me). I simply get a kick out of messing with other people. I’ve gotten my payback—I lived with my aunt and uncle for a few years in my late teens and early twenties. Their three young boys learned my joking ways from an early age. Now that they are entering their teenage years, I have to watch out for their jokes. All I can say is that I’m glad I no longer live with them after all they learned from me!

Practical Jokes of Yesteryear

#1 Turn Everything Upside Down

The beauty of this joke is that it is so unexpected. You can make it a big job by doing it to everything in the house, or one specific room. This includes turning pictures and posters, pieces of furniture, and even rugs upside down. Or, you can just hit certain areas: turn everything in the refrigerator upside down, turn all of the books on a bookshelf upside down, or turn all of the contents inside the kitchen cupboards upside down. Sometimes it takes people a while to notice, but once they do, they will be surprised and you will get a laugh.

#2 Move Things Around

Reorganizing someone else’s stuff can really throw them for a loop. Go switch the contents of their sock drawer with the silverware drawer. If someone methodically lays their shoes out in pairs, switch them around so half of the left shoes end up on the right. Or, replace all of the shoes in one person’s closet with all of the shoes in someone else’s closet. As long as it is silly and doesn’t seriously invade someone else’s privacy, go for it. Put the toothpaste where your dad’s reading glasses go, and the glasses where the toothpaste goes. Put rugs where blankets go, and blankets where rugs go. Use your imagination.

#3 Switch Your Voicemail or Answering Machine Announcement

You can do this to your own voicemail, or to that of someone else. Be sure to gauge the practicality of this one—if your cousin runs a daycare out of her house, don’t replace her announcement with something unprofessional. If you pull this prank, just be silly. My uncle once changed their announcement to: “This is Butch’s Gun Shop. We aren’t here right now, so leave a message.” He disguised his voice, so that even my aunt thought she had dialed the wrong number when she called home. My grandpa went so far as to call the phone company and request them to make sure the phone lines hadn’t been crossed, and then he insisted they credit him for the long distance charges he incurred when trying to call my aunt and uncle. Find something silly that your friends and family will get, and have fun.

#4 Create Funny Labels

Print out funny labels, and put them on things around the house. For example, you can attack the spice rack by sticking labels onto the different spice bottles. Place a “Warning: Keep out of reach of children. For external use only, not to be swallowed. If certain body parts become spontaneously combustible, consult your doctor immediately” label on the cinnamon jar. Stick a “For Erectile Dysfunction” label on the cumin jar. Make an “Add to your cooking so it doesn’t taste so bad” label to the oregano jar. Use your imagination—and let me know what you think of!

#5 The Quarter Coordination Test

This joke is different from the rest because you are actually doing something to another person. The other four practical jokes can be done when nobody is around—and, chances are that you can try to remain anonymous. That’s not case for this one. I remember watching my mom play this one on other people when I was a kid. Tell your victim that this is a coordination test you recently learned about. Give him or her a piece of paper, a quarter, and a pencil. Have your jokee hold the quarter down with one hand, and use the pencil to trace circles around the quarter with the other hand. After a little while, have your victim roll the quarter in patterns around his or her face. Repeat. You will get a kick watching your victim mark up his or her face. After a few times, shrug and announce it must not work. See how long it takes before your victim looks in a mirror.

These are just a few of the many fun and harmless jokes you can play on people. If you end up laughing more than everyone else when you play these jokes, have no fear. Practice makes perfect. Before you know it, other people will be laughing too. Or, they will start avoiding you and looking wary whenever they see you coming. Happy joking!


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