April Fools! (Two days early)
.April Fools’ Day (aka All Fools’ Day) – the one day a year dedicated to humor, where practical jokes and pranks are not just tolerated but encouraged.
Though the origins of the day are debated, historians tend to believe that it started in 1582, the year France changed the observance of the New Year from the end of March to the first of January. Evidently, some fools continued to ring in the New Year on April 1, and thus were deserving of pranks by their non-foolish neighbors. The pranks became tradition and spread.
(Note: A problem with the calendar-change account is that if ails to consider other historical traditions along these lines, which date much further back.)
Regardless of its origin, April Fools’ Day reveals both light- and dark-side of hoaxes (on April 1st and otherwise):
A sample of the top 100 best hoaxes of all time:
1992: National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation program announced that Richard Nixon, in a surprise move, was running for President again. His new campaign slogan was, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” Accompanying this announcement were audio clips of Nixon delivering his candidacy speech. Listeners responded viscerally to the announcement, flooding the show with calls expressing shock and outrage. Only during the second half of the show did the host John Hockenberry reveal that the announcement was a practical joke. Nixon’s voice was impersonated by comedian Rich Little.
A sample from the top 10 worst hoaxes of all time:
Imagine reading that your husband or brother who has been held in a squalid Romanian prison for years is finally going to be released. You make the long journey to the prison and stand outside the prison gates, waiting desperately for the moment you’ll be reunited with your loved one, only to hear… ‘April Fools! No one’s being released!’ This experience happened to sixty people in April 2000 who read in the Opinia newspaper that their loved ones were going to be released from the Baia Mare prison in Romania. They made the long journey to the prison, only to learn that the paper had played an April Fool’s joke on them. The Opinia later published an apology.
Speaking of April Fools, the Palo Alto Institute invited me to give a talk this Friday about what makes things funny:
Secrets to a Funnier You: The Art and Science of Being Funny
Grove Ballroom; Garden Court Hotel
520 Cowper Street Palo Alto, California
What makes things funny? How does humor defuse tension? Laughter is the best medicine – ever wonder why? Experience first-hand the benefits of laughter from various perspectives: from political cartoons to interactive improvisation to hilarity in the brain. Brilliant and funny speakers explore these questions and offer tips from different disciplines at our upcoming T3 Talks, Secrets to a Funnier You: The Art and Science of Being Funny. Even though we all know humor is fundamental to our well-being, we don’t always give it the attention it deserves.