This blog post is NOT an April Fool’s joke, because it’s not a joke PLUS it’s being posted after midday. This post IS however about an April Fool’s joke I pulled this morning on a work colleague.
Analysing it later, I realised even thought it was put together relatively quickly (in the space of about 15 minutes), how well it was executed. There were a couple of ideas being thrown around between a few people, but all came to the conclusion that he would see straight through them. My idea was what was ultimately used.
The ‘Fool’ is a huge George Michael fan. He flew over to England to see his ‘final’ concert, and recently saw his Sydney concert. Why not tell him he had passed away… thinking more, in the past George has been in the new over drug use, so make that the reason (ie. seems viable). So we were deciding who could walk up and tell him. I know I couldn’t, and neither anyone else here could have done it with a straight face. A throwaway line by someone said ‘unless you could make it a newspaper article’. Instantly I thought of mocking up a news website and replacing the headline with ‘George Michael Dead at 46’ (after quickly looking up Wikipedia to check his age).
I quickly jumped on to news.com.au, took a screen shot from my favourite imaging application, The GIMP, and got to work. I found a picture of George which could be used as an obituary photo, pasted it over the current ‘breaking’ news photo, added the text over the image as the site would look, matched fonts, wrote up quick lead in to the article updated the newest news scroll to include the news and matched all the colour. I was initially going to get someone to send it to him as though someone had taken a screen shot.
Thinking that someone sending a screen show might have been just a little too obvious, I decided to create a quick website. I used the image as a background and made the page title the same as the actual site. I opened it up on his computer (as he was away from his desk at the time) and then overtyped the URL to be http://www.news.com.au (subsequently it’s a site which he visits frequently). Locked his computer and then hoped he got back before Midday… which he did.
[singlepic id=47 w=320 h=240 float=center]
As he unlocked his computer, he had Internet Explorer opened like the picture above and his jaw dropped “Oh NOOOOOOO, Oh NOOOOOO” everyone sitting around him were in on the joke and were trying to hide their laughter “I can’t believe it, George Michael is dead”… he reads the lead in I wrote out to everyone in absolute disbelief and saying he was just talking to someone about him. He then proceeds to call this person, she doesn’t believe him “No but it’s on the front page of news.com.au as breaking news, its real”. He finished that conversation and then started walking around the office, telling everyone as he went.
He eventually got around to another colleague who has access to news.com.au. She opened the site and couldn’t see it. The office manager who was in on the joke after he heard about it (after checking with us), quickly covered and said ‘Oh that must be the old one’… subsequently a few seconds later he was told it was an April Fools… who also told him who set it up. Initially I didn’t want to take responsibility for it, but seeing the reaction I wanted to take ALL responsibility for it. When he got back to his desk, all he wanted to know was how I did it.
The ‘Fool’ asked the manager to call up the person he had called to tell her it was an April Fools. As it turns out, she had called an additional 3-5 people and sent upwards of 10 text messages telling people of the ‘news’. It’s truly amazing how fast ‘news’ can travel!
Now, what did I learn from this?
- Choose a subject that is close to the Fools heart
- Make it believable (granted I could have made mine even more believable, however in the short time it worked)
- Don’t make it too unbelievable
- Don’t laugh too loud when you see their reaction