Happy April Fool’s Day to one and all. You’ll need to have your wits about you today or you could end up being fooled. This is the day people’s inner prankster comes to life and conjures up tricks to bring joy and laughter to many an unsuspecting soul. Some jokes don’t get the intended reception but luckily most are well received. Corporations have spent thousands of dollars promoting weird and wacky services and products on April Fools Day. Many are very clever and creative and bring loads of wonder and laughter to people’s lives. I’ve found a few of my favorites I’d like to share with you and links to sites with plenty more to entertain you on April Fool’s Day. Hope you get as much enjoyment from them that I have.
I’ve found a few favorites….
Instant Color TV, 1962
Sweden’s most famous April Fool’s Day hoax occurred on April 1, 1962. At the time, SVT (Sveriges Television) was the only television channel in Sweden, and it broadcast in black and white.
The station announced that their “technical expert,” Kjell Stensson, was going to describe a process that would allow people to view color images on their existing black-and-white sets.
The broadcast cut to Stensson sitting in front of a television set in the studio. He began to explain how the process worked. His discussion was highly technical, going into details about the prismatic nature of light and the phenomenon of “double slit interference.” But at last he arrived at the main point. Researchers, he said, had recently discovered that a fine-meshed screen placed in front of a black-and-white television screen would cause the light to bend in such a way that it would appear as if the image was in color.
Stensson told viewers they could experience the effect at home with the help of some simple, readily accessible materials. Nylon stockings, it turned out, were the perfect fabric to use as a fine-meshed screen. All viewers had to do, Stensson said, was to cut open a pair of stockings and tape them over the screen of their television set. The image on the television should suddenly appear to be in color.
The Republic of San Serriffe
On April 1, 1977 the British newspaper The Guardian published a seven-page “special report” about San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles described the geography and culture of this obscure nation.
The report generated a huge response. The Guardian’s phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. However, San Serriffe did not actually exist. The report was an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke — one with a typographical twist, since numerous details about the island (such as its name) alluded to printer’s terminology.
The success of this hoax is widely credited with inspiring the British media’s enthusiasm for April Foolery in subsequent years.
Nixon for President
The 1 April 1992 broadcast of National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation revealed 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.
Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity — April Fool’s Day, 1976
During an interview on BBC Radio 2, on the morning of April 1, 1976, the British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that an extraordinary astronomical event was about to occur. At exactly 9:47 am, the planet Pluto would pass directly behind Jupiter, in relation to the Earth. This rare alignment would mean that the combined gravitational force of the two planets would exert a stronger tidal pull, temporarily counteracting the Earth’s own gravity and making people weigh less. Moore called this the Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect.
Moore told listeners that they could experience the phenomenon by jumping in the air at the precise moment the alignment occurred. If they did so, he promised, they would experience a strange floating sensation.
At 9:47, Moore declared, “Jump now!” A minute passed, and then the BBC switchboard lit up with dozens of people calling in to report that the experiment had worked!
A Dutch woman from Utrecht said that she and her husband had floated around the room together. Another caller claimed she had been seated around a table with eleven friends and that all of them, including the table, had begun to ascend.
But not everyone was happy. One angry caller complained he had risen from the ground so rapidly that he hit his head on the ceiling, and he wanted compensation.
Moore’s announcement was, of course, an April Fool’s Day joke. It became one of the most celebrated April Fool’s Day hoaxes of the late 20th century. However, it wasn’t just a random joke. Moore intended it as a spoof of a pseudoscientific astronomical theory that had recently been promoted in a book by John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann called The Jupiter Effect.
Looks like the old BBC’s publicity department in the 1960’s and 1970’s would have been a fun place to work in March. For more recent corporate and private pranks take a look at these fun filled sites.
Happy April Fools Day or in Chinese “Yu Ren Jie Kuai Le”
Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at +86 13122 810 421 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties