Eric Striffler is one prolific prankster — so much so that, while in high school, administrators started to take notice and eventually started sanctioning his pranks. Today Striffler showcases his practical jokes on his YouTube channel. Below, find Striffler’s tips for a successful prank and watch “20/20: Classroom Confidential” online now for more on the fun and follies of school pranks.
I’ve been a big fan of pranks and practical jokes all my life, and have experienced plenty of good ones and just as many bad ones. There’s a lot more that goes into playing a prank than one might realize, so here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning out your shenanigans…
1. What reaction are you looking for? I’ve personally always liked to keep my pranks light-hearted rather than mean-spirited, but everyone is different. My ideal prank ends with everyone laughing, rather than one person upset while everyone else laughs at his or her expense. This is something you’ll have to decide before you start putting your plan into motion, because it’s going to have a major impact on every aspect of the prank from beginning to end.
2. What’s your prank? There are plenty of websites with different prank ideas, but the best are ones that you come up with on your own. You could even build off of pre-existing pranks; for example, I once reversed the classic “funnel in the pants” prank, in which you challenge someone to drop a quarter from their forehead to a funnel stuck into the front of their pants, and then you pour water into the funnel when they’re looking up to put the quarter on their forehead. I convinced a friend that he would be demonstrating the challenge for the victim, but instead they got water poured down their pants and realized they were the one being pranked. This can be a good way to get an old prank that most people won’t fall for anymore to actually work!
3. Is your prank safe? Don’t risk injury or permanent property damage for the sake of a laugh. Pouring water down someone’s’ pants is harmless, it’s just water and will dry up. But you won’t think it’s funny when somebody gets hurt or when you’re stuck paying for something you broke. Obviously accidents can happen, but if you plan well enough then you can minimize the risk of anything going wrong.
4. A good prank requires planning. If your prank is small and quick, you can probably pull it off on your own, but most pranks require at least one or two accomplices. Make sure everyone involved knows his or her role in pulling off the prank well before putting it into action. It’s also not a bad idea to have some sort of “abort” signal to tell everyone involved that the prank is off if anything starts to go wrong.
5. Find your target. You’re better off pranking someone that you know is a good sport as opposed to someone who may get angry with you. If you’re unsure of how someone will react, you run the risk of something going wrong. Honestly if you prank the wrong person, they might get violent with you and it’s quite possible you will have deserved it.
6. Go for it. Once you’re ready to pull off the prank, you need to be confident and dive right in. If you hesitate, the person you’re pranking could realize what’s going on, or if your prank is timed out then you could throw off the timing and the whole thing will fall apart. Stick to the plan!
7. Be prepared to do damage control. If your prank didn’t go quite as planned, you’ll need to take responsibility for it. This could include paying for damaged property, so you really need to make sure you plan well enough to avoid this.
8. Learn from your mistakes. Did something go wrong? Think about what could be done next time to avoid any mistakes happening again. If you plan to pull off more pranks in the future, it’s very important to take something away from each prank you do to improve for next time.
9. Start planning the next one! You might even want to bring your previous victims in on the next prank, especially if they’re mad at you for playing one on them. Keep in mind that the more pranks you pull, the more of a reputation you’ll build as a practical joker. This can make it more difficult to get people to fall for your pranks, so try to prank different people from different places or different groups of friends.