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The Guide to Expert Pranking

Updated on July 11, 2015


Pranking is a phenomenon that has occurred for thousands of years. Even the Egyptians used comedy, which suggests that they also played pranks. Pranking is the meaner, older brother of comedy because it is defined as comedy in action at the expense of another. The primary objective in pranking is to make the result as hilarious as possible by causing another to appear ridiculous. To do so, I have outlined the art of pranking as a guide to help spread the funny mayhem of pranks.

Choosing your Target

The first step to any prank is to choose your target. Whether you seek revenge or simply a good laugh, your prank needs to be suited to your specific target. Never prank a random person unless you are positive you can get away with it. A random person is unlikely to be very understanding of your prank and he or she could have an unpredictable reaction. Instead, focus on someone who you know because this will not only ensure less unpredictability, but will allow you to craft a more relevant prank to that person.

It will also make the prank a whole lot funnier if you target an authority figure. For some reason, people love to see authority look ridiculous or act stupid. Also, if you prank someone, make sure to hit them where it hurts. For example, my fiance is terrified of demons. So, I made a fake website online that warned people of a demonic portrait. This website had a frightening background story of demise after demise for the people who possessed this portrait. The funny part is that my fiance got this portrait from a thrift shop and when she saw the picture of it online and saw my freaked out face she jumped. I did not have the heart to even let her read much of the fake story I had posted online. My prank hit her so hard that I had to end it short.

Pain or Embarrassment

It is important for every prank to either lead to pain or embarrassment for your target. I would urge you to go for embarrassment because when you inflict pain on another it could be outright rude. Also, when you embarrass your target, it always has funnier results.

Another warning of mine is too avoid inflicting long-term embarrassment. Do not do things such as shave another's eyebrows when he or she is asleep or put veet hair removal in another's shampoo bottle. Long-lasting pranks are not good because they are simply too cruel. However, an instant prank creates a nice, memorable story that is not associated with hatred for the prankster.

An appropriate example of an instant prank would be to put red kool-aid mix into the shower nozzle, so that when your roommate goes to take a shower he or she thinks blood is gushing from the spout. Such a prank only causes a temporary fear that melts away into slight embarrassment when you tell your roommate of the prank. Go for pranks that follow that pattern.

The Element of Surprise

Every prank must capture an element of surprise. Catching a person off guard always gives a good laugh because that person will not know how to act. To do this, you must be skilled in deception. Plan your lies out carefully and do not falter when committing the prank. A good way to ensure that your deception is successful is to trick yourself into believing in the prank wholeheartedly. I managed to do this in my demonic portrait prank. Before showing my fiance the website I got myself scared, shaking, and wide-eyed to the point that the prank even felt real to me.

Your deception should be so grand that it makes your target believe in something completely ridiculous. If you can instill an unlikely belief into the head of your target, the prank becomes so much better. As an illustration, is a website that contains many pranks done through emails on craigslist. It has a prank called "Glorious Master Translator" and, in this prank, a man posted an ad on craigslist searching for a Japanese translator to help him read his instructions manual for his CD player. The prankster used two separate email accounts to trick the man into thinking that his CD manual actually contained a sushi take-out menu inside it. The results were fantastic.

Ending with a BANG

Like any joke, the key to the success of a prank is the landing of the punchline. In order to have a great punchline, you need to surprise your target at the very end of the prank. On April Fools' Day, the punchline is always "April Fools!" But, when you are pranking any other time of the year, you should let the punchline speak for itself. In other words, have your prank tell your target that it is a prank. A great method of doing this is to have the deception rise gradually until a particular lie is so ridiculous that your target realizes it was all a prank. This method is shown in the "Glorious Master Translator" prank. That moment your target understands that he or she has been fooled is the fuel that keeps pranks ongoing. So, the end of a prank is of great importance.


Before you prank, be wary that you will not be doing anything illegal. A former prankster once pulled a stunt in which he pretended he had a bomb; needless to say, he received few laughs and was put in prison for years. As long as you avoid causing too much damage or breaking the law, you should do just fine. If a prank does not follow through the way you thought it would, go back and find out where you messed up. Always make alterations so that you can prank better in the future. Now that you know how to properly prank, go out and wreak havoc on your target.


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