Is anyone still gullible enough to believe anything on the first day of April?
Well, I am. My mother once called at 5 a.m. — before I realized what day it was — to tell me a satellite had hit her house and crushed my youngest sister’s leg. I was sobbing for a good 10 minutes before she called back to say, “April Fools.”
It wasn’t funny. And it has gone down in our family lore as one of the worst. jokes. ever.
She’s not the only person, though, to execute a prank poorly.
Just last week, Microsoft banned any public-facing April Fools’ Day hoaxes, perhaps because of the way some companies, including Google, have had to apologize for such mischief in the past, according to The Verge, which obtained a copy of Microsoft’s internal memo.
A notoriously distressing prank occurred in 1980 when a Boston TV news station employee produced a broadcast about a hill in Milton, Massachusetts, that had begun oozing lava and spewing flames. To fool viewers, the broadcaster included fake warnings from then-president Jimmy Carter and real footage from past Mount St. Helens eruptions (not the big one — that came the next month), according to a Reader’s Digest article on the 13 worst April Fools’ Day jokes ever.
“April Fool” read the card at the end of the segment, but hundreds of panicked citizens flooded law-enforcement phone lines anyway. The broadcaster was promptly fired for failing to exercise “good news judgment” and breaching FCC regulations.
Seattle’s KING-TV, having apparently not learned from the missteps of its East Coast colleagues, reported on April 1, 1989, that the Space Needle had collapsed.
The prank came courtesy of “Almost Live!,” an award-winning comedy show that ran from 1984 to 1999. Local 911 lines were flooded, and more than 700 people called the Space Needle to check on the well-being of loved ones who were dining at the landmark’s revolving restaurant. KING-TV issued an apology the next day: “The (on-screen) disclaimer obviously was not sufficient.”
A Facebook page called The Burien Voice posted on Monday that Burien City Councilmember Krystal Marx and Mayor Jimmy Matta had both resigned effective at noon. The post falsely claimed that Marx was leaving city government “to join ISIS in Syria,” while Matta planned to “start a dollhouse furniture manufacturing company” because it’s “much safer work than being a mayor.”
Emily Inlow-Hood, a spokesperson for the city of Burien, confirmed that the post is not true and that neither Matta nor Marx has resigned. Inlow-Hood would not comment on whether she thought the prank was funny.
There have, of course, been some successful efforts as well.
On April 1, 1957, the BBC TV show “Panorama” ran a segment about the Swiss spaghetti harvest enjoying a “bumper year” thanks to mild weather and the elimination of a pest called the “spaghetti weevil.” Many credulous Britons were taken in, and why not? The story was on television — then a relatively new invention.
Local companies are trying to have some fun this year without worrying anyone.
Outdoor-gear retail co-op REI, which offers classes and trips for its members, announced a series of excursions designed for pets, including climbing for hedgehogs, glamping for cats — which, honestly, sounds right up their alley — and kayaking for betta fish.
Bellevue-based T-Mobile installed magenta phone booths around Seattle, New York City and Washington, D.C., this past weekend, saying they were an innovative way to allow people to have private conversations on their cellphones while in public.
The company, part of the industry that contributed to the demise of the phone booth, is following up today by announcing miniature, portable phone booths that are so private, they encapsulate the user’s head.
“It’s just a cardboard box with a hole in it,” goes the company’s faux promotional page for the product, “but it screams ‘Don’t talk to me’ and doubles as a fashionable head accessory.”
A few local police departments are trying get in on the fun as well.
In Bellevue, police claimed on Twitter they would be introducing a new double-decker patrol car and Tacoma police said in a Facebook post that that their annual softball match against Tacoma fire would be replaced with a synchronized swimming event with police wearing “blue bunny suits” and fire wearing red.
And just this morning, The Sun wrote that the British Royal Mint will soon introduce a collection of coin designs based on emojis, including a poo emoji 50-pence piece:
Go ahead and try to fool someone today. Just leave satellites and crushed legs out of it, please.
Got a hilarious, horrible (or hilariously horrible) April Fools’ Day story to share? Tell us in the comments.