Gotcha! Behind Some Famous College Pranks

Gift Wrap Dorm Room College Prank

It has been said that there is a time for everything, and that time is called college. While not exactly the most profound statement ever written, it does nicely sum up a time that for millions of people is a chance to explore who and what they really are. A time to investigate your political beliefs for some, or a time to set the dorm record for beer pong for others. An opportunity to study with brilliant professors, or a time for a drunken lesbian hook up. A moment to really see what it’s like to be a grown up, or a chance to wear oversize diapers and scream at old ladies as part of an initiation ritual. However it shapes up, college can definitely be a time of opportunity.

Duct Tape College Prank

What we will be looking at here is what happens when you take lots of young adults, put them in close quarters, feed them a steady diet of beer, Taco Bell, Count Chocula and Red Bull, and let them go. It all adds up to a perfect storm to create college pranks.

WHY ARE COLLEGE PRANKS SO POPULAR?

For today’s lesson, let’s explore how college is a breeding ground of fantastic pranks. The truth is that many students in their late teens and early twenties are adults in name only, and are basically a bunch of tall toddlers. Which can be awesome of course, depending on your point of view and how many weed brownies you have eaten. So take a bunch of people who love to get silly, put them all in a giant fishbowl with very little “adult” supervision, and you are bound to get antics that would make Bart Simpson proud.

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CAN A COLLEGE PRANK GO WRONG?

Oh boy, they sure can. Perhaps one of the most powerful element is that they can easily backfire or even cause the victim to seek a prank-y revenge. Maybe it is the risk itself that elevates the comedy, but either way, there is always plenty of room for a mistake. Luckily for the viewers of these videos, the mistakes are often the funniest part.

This famous video is a cautionary tale of what can go wrong:

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Another timeless feature of many college dorms is the bunk bed. Naturally, bunk bed pranks are bound to happen. In this ridiculous bit of nonsense, the pranker kicks the bed of the dude above him, which results in a surprising outcome:

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST COLLEGE PRANKS OF ALL TIME?

While of course this is a subjective question, a truly great college prank actually involves using the so-called smarts of the college students. Sure, it can be fun to fill their dorm room with popcorn, grease the floor with butter so they slip, stick their hand in warm water while they are sleeping so they pee the bed, wrap their room in paper, superglue their pubic hair to their text books, or give them an atomic wedgie.

You can also plastic wrap their doors:

Dump chickens in their dorm rooms:

Or of course, the good old jump out and scare the crap out of them:

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Hysterical as those timeless tricks may be, they don’t exactly take an Einstein to perpetrate.

Albert Einstein Tongue

The college prank that arguably took the most time, effort and ingenuity may well have been the incident known as The Great Rose Bowl Hoax.

Rose Bowl Hoax College Prank

Neil Steinberg, author of a book about college pranks called “If At All Possible Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks,” wrote that “few college pranks can be said to be more grandly conceived, carefully planned, flawlessly executed, and publicly dramatic.”

It happened during the Rose Bowl Game in 1961, in a game featuring Washington versus Minnesota. Then as now, the Rose Bowl was a huge deal with a massive television audience. As part of the halftime proceedings, the students in the Washington section were supposed to flip over cards left on their seats to spell out their school’s name. However, the brilliant jokers of Caltech were able to change the routine and the cards so that when it was time to flip the cards, they spelled out “CALTECH” instead.

Caltech definitely belongs in the college prank hall of fame as another group of its students pulled a legendary prank on McDonald’s in 1975. According to an article from the AP in 1984:

One caper that infuriated many and earned the pranksters numerous prizes was the McDonald’s affair.

In March 1975, the fast-food chain sponsored a $50,000 sweepstakes that offered a year’s free groceries and a Datsun sports car as the top prizes. Three students took literally the contest rules in fine print that said “enter as often as you wish.”

Helped by a Caltech computer, the three printed more than 1 million entries and deposited them at 98 McDonald’s restaurants around Southern California.

The Caltech group won about 20 of the prizes, including a Datsun station wagon, $3,000 in cash and about $1,500 worth of McDonald’s gift certificates. The car was later donated to charity.

“The students acted in complete contradiction to the American standards of fair   play and sportsmanship,” McDonald’s said, but the prank was declared legal.

I LIKE BALLOONS AND PRANKS INVOLVING TOILETS. WHAT SHOULD I WATCH?

That certainly sounds like a very strange fetish you have, but perhaps with enough therapy and a loving sexual partner, you may someday find a way to deal with it in a healthy fashion. Luckily for you though, in the world of college pranks, we have a video that should please you in the meantime:

If you like balloon pranks but don’t really need to involve the toilet element, a simple flinging of a water balloon is both simple and effective. Hardly the stuff that will make you a legend in the pranking world, but hey, there is something to be said for an oldie but a goodie:

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I THINK COLLEGE PRANKS INVOLVING PRETENDING TO ROB GIRLS ARE HYSTERICAL. MY FRIENDS THINK I’M NUTS. WHO IS RIGHT?

It is not our position here to make such moral judgements. We simply serve to lay out case studies, videos and crazy jokes and allow you, our adored reader, to decide for yourselves. That said, this clip of a dude pretending to rob these girls will do the trick especially if you like high pitched screaming:

NOTHING MAKES ME HOWL LIKE WATCHING A COLLEGE KID OPEN A DOOR TO HAVE A BUNCH OF STUFF FALL ON THEM. ANY VIDEO SUGGESTIONS?

Here is a perfect example of this simple but hard to resist genre. Kids, don’t try this at home. Wait until you go to college. Until then, or if you’ve already graduated, enjoy this little wonder:

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ALL THIS PRANKING IS GETTING ME HUNGRY. ANY CULINARY SUGGESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE FOR ME?

First of all, you should always try to eat a balanced meal with as many healthy items as you can muster. Salads are good of course, or maybe a nice apple or orange. Then again, this isn’t a nutritional website so we shall focus on a prank instead featuring a pie in the face. Interestingly, the old pie in the face was one of the great jokes of the silent era of film, as it works even without sound.  So, feel free to eat some pie afterwards. You deserve it.

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ARE COLLEGE PRANKS STRICTLY AN AMERICAN PHENOMENON?

Absolutely a big no on that one. In fact, the tradition probably goes back to the legendary jokers of the great British Universities, whose sense of humor has influenced countless pranksters over the years. If though you are wondering if America has lost its edge, with China breathing down on our backs and taking over the world economy, be proud that one of our great institutions is still being exported abroad. This article from the East Asian Economic and Trade News shows that a college prank is truly a universal phenomenon, with too much alcohol and the desire to scare the crap out of your roommate a thing of international value:

            One college student in Jilin Province is still recovering from a trick or treat gone   wrong after trying to wake up his passed-out roommate wearing a Halloween mask.

            Wang was treated for a fractured nose at First Bethune Hospital of Jilin University in Changchun after his startled roommate surnamed Yang answered his prank with a sharp kick to the face on November 1.

            The 21-year-old Wang, who rents a house with Yang near campus, had just returned from a Halloween party at a local bar. After Yang passed out, the equally   tipsy Wang thought he’d get in one last scare before the holiday passed.

            “I was thinking…Halloween was about to end and I hadn’t frightened anyone with the mask. I just wanted to scare him,” said Wang.

            The disoriented Yang returned the gesture with a spirited kick in the face.

            “I must have kicked [him] with too much force. [His] nose was bleeding and looked dislocated,” said Yang, explaining that he must have overreacted due to the alcohol.

 

Scared Chinese Man