I don’t like practical jokes. I never get the humor when its played on me, I never end up laughing after the initial scare, inconvenience or pain. I get angry and I stay angry.
But it is bad form not to accept the joke played on you with grace, so I keep the long term anger inside and let my tormentors enjoy their laugh, with culturally appropriate grace.
But I don’t understand the point. Why is it wonderfully funny to scare the crap out of someone, make their life harder or more painful? It’s not a surprise to anyone but the victim, but still the jokers laugh hysterically.
Taken apart, a practical joke is just cruel. But we don’t call it cruel, because we have decided it wasn’t done with evil intent. It was done to be funny. Why isn’t it considered evil to do a mean thing to someone that you like, just so you can laugh? I don’t know.
I think the laughter is what gives people the free pass. We are OK with a lot of crappy things if people laugh. There’s a whole bit that Conan O’Brian does with somebody in his office where he’s basically a dick. And we laugh, so its OK. If it wasn’t funny, then we would think that Conan is a dick.
But I think Conan is being a dick in any case. Just like I think people who pull practical jokes are often being dicks. But our culture thinks, hey its OK that they were a dick to that person because its funny.
There is a whole subculture on the internet of ADULT people who run elaborate phone pranks on people. They get together and swap stories and ideas. Things like calling a person and pretending to be from Verizon Customer Service and trying to get someone who tweeted an angry complaint down. They end up berating the tweeter. Its beyond my understanding. Why would you basically call to annoy and upset another human that you don’t eve know. As a JOKE.
I wonder if the practical joke is the evil part of our brain, that each of us carries around, finding a harmless way to get some exercise.
I know I’m not alone in hating the practical joke, but I am in the minority. I’m also in the even smaller minority of people who think that being a dick to entertain yourself or other people is a terrible way to live your life.