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The gift of the gag
On this April Fools Day, we wondered: Which office pranks are worth the price?
Insta-Poo has the consistency of hair mousse and a high disgust factor. - photo by Robin Michener Nathan

Hey, this is serious stuff.

Practicing a truly good prank on April Fool’s Day is often elevated to an art form by the experienced trickster. So, rather than try to top them at their own game, we found a few of the old standards and tried them out on our coworkers.

The whoopee cushion, for one, is an old standby that has seen some innovations over the years. Who knew they now make versions that don’t require blowing up? The only problem, however, is the color — rather than produce them in drab office-chair gray or basic black, they’re made in Day-Glo green or red.

C’mon, whoopee cushion manufacturers! How do you make someone sit on a bright green circle without making them suspicious?

So, here are our favorites — or, not-so-favorites, as the case may be. Happy April Fool’s!


Whoopee cushion

The Gag: Sit on a whoopee cushion and see the reaction. While the self-inflatable version made a wholesome “blurp” sound, the remote-controlled version sounded more like an injured duck. And because the cushions come in bright colors, there’s no disguising them, so we had to pull the prank on ourselves in meetings. In the end, this prank is effective, but you have to have some strong self-esteem to turn the gag on yourself.
Price: 59 cents to $2.99, from Dollar Tree, Publix and Party City
Fool Factor: Two out of five giggles


Creepy creatures

The Gag: Connect the spider to a string, lower the spider over the side of the cubicle and scare someone at their desk. This gag was far more humorous to the person doing the gag than the scare factor itself. We did get a few laughs out of the attempt.
Price: $1 at Dollar Tree
Fool Factor: One out of five giggles


Wind-up buzzer ring

The Gag: The timeless buzzer ring, the old joke that you slip onto your finger just before shaking someone’s hand, did not work — the tickle didn’t transfer to the other person’s hand.
Price: 49 cents from Party City
Fool Factor: Zero out of five giggles


Snakes in a cooler

The Gag: As an ode to former Times reporter Jim Chapman, the snakes in a cooler gag was brought back for our April Fool’s Day experiment. To begin this gag, start with an empty cooler and attach a sign that says ‘Free Drinks.’ Anything free in The Times office goes very quickly so we knew this would be a winner. On the inside of the cooler, add a couple of fake snakes to scare whoever opens the cooler. The end result usually is a good laugh — and the occasional shriek.
Price: $2 at Dollar Tree
Fool Factor: Three out of five giggles


The Gag: Insta-Poop, which is distributed by Rhode Island Novelty, is just what it sounds like — foam poop in a can. Just shake it up and spray like hair mousse or whipped cream. The can’s instructions suggests to “make swirl shape for best results.” We chose to spray Insta-Poop onto a piece of plain white paper and place in an unsuspecting person’s chair. Be careful, though — it has a chemical smell and can stain. Yum!
Price: $4.89 from
Fool Factor: Five out of five giggles

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