Dumb and Funny Jokes
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Two days later—same thing. "A snow emergency has been declared,” blares the radio. "Park your cars on the even-numbered side of the street.” Louie gets up and does what he’s told.
Three days later: "There will be a foot of snow today. Park your cars on the ...,” and then the power goes out.
"What should I do?” a confused Louie asks his wife.
"This time,” she says, "why don’t you just leave the car in the garage?”
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Two weeks later, I got five tickets in the mail for driving without a seat belt.
"Stay calm," I advised. "Now, how far apart are your contractions?"
"No contractions," she said breathlessly. "But my basement is flooding fast."
"I suppose you can," said the man.
So the driver started across, but within seconds, his car sank, and he barely escaped with his life.
"You lied to me!" the driver screamed at the passerby. "That stream is at least ten feet deep!"
"That's funny. It only reaches up to the middle of the ducks."
"The Learning Center reports a man stands at his window watching the center, making parents nervous. Police ID him as a cardboard cutout of Arnold Schwarzenegger."
"Police receive a report of a newborn infant found in a trash can. Upon investigation, officers discover it was only a burrito."
"Uh, Cynthia," I said, "he can't see you."
"I know that," she said indignantly. "I'm waving the dog on."
But the most interesting came when I asked a customer why she'd brought along a dozen empty jars. She answered, "I want to take home a sample of each color of water that we'll be going in."
"How long will it take?" I asked.
The clerk answered, "A day or two."
"Why?" his teacher asked.
Marshaling all the English he knew, the student pointed to his ears and explained, "It's my fallopian tubes."
Considering the task at hand, the relative asked, "Does this need to be done before or after the cremation?"
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Charlie Todd.[/caption] Stepani and company are busy establishing the U.S. Prank Exchange, which lets investors buy and sell shares in hoaxes. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "blue-chip pranks, like those involving whoopee cushions, are expected to have moderate growth, whereas tech and online pranks are expected to be highly volatile but …" Okay, we’re lying. There is no Pranks Inc., no Prank Exchange, no Wall Street Journal article, not even a Jerry Stepani as far as we know. Too bad—we could make a mint, what with all the pranks being perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. Just last year, the world was introduced to bottled organic air (courtesy of Whole Foods Market), animal gyms (Virgin), and a new breed of sheep sporting tartan-patterned wool (the London Daily Mail), to name but a few. Bears may have decimated the stock and housing markets, but there’s still a lot of bull in the bull business. Here, four of the best pranksters tell us what makes them trick. Gag Reflex Forty-two-year-old comedian Tom Mabe was a prank prodigy, having executed his first when he was only eight. He had just made a snowman on the front lawn of his Louisville, Kentucky, home when he watched helplessly as teenagers in a car ran over it. He made another, with the same result. The third snowman he built was on a fire hydrant. "There I was with their wrecked car and water gushing out everywhere, and I acted like, Gee, I didn’t think anyone would hit it with his car," he says. "I had to do something. I was just a little guy. So I came up with this kind of cowardly way of getting revenge." Mabe grew up to be six feet four inches tall, but he never lost the little-guy attitude. His specialty is torturing telemarketers. He once checked into a Washington, D.C., hotel that was hosting a telemarketing convention, and spent the night making phony phone calls, trying to sell the sellers insomnia medicine at three o’clock in the morning. The front desk manager finally begged him to stop because one of the guests was so outraged. Mabe promised to fix the situation. He phoned the guest and identified himself as the manager. "Sir, I’m sorry about your losing sleep," he said. "I believe we can make it up to you." "Thank God," the man said. "Here it is … Rock-a-bye, baby, in the treetop …" Why do you pull pranks? "Revenge and fun. If some salesman is going to call my house, it’s game on." Best gag you’ve pulled off: "One time there were a couple of homeless guys in front of a McDonald’s. I called the restaurant impersonating a policeman and pretended that the men were actually undercover cops. I persuaded the manager to bring them burgers and coffee." Best gag someone else pulled off: "My buddy Jim Clark took his family to the zoo, and upon exiting, he and his family ran past the people entering screaming, ‘Run, run! It’s right behind us!’ People were taking cover, jumping up on picnic tables!" Any pranks you regret pulling? "I once saw a dead deer by the side of the road. I ran back to my house, put on a Santa suit, and then I lay down beside the deer—just in time for a school bus to drive by. Freaked the kids right out." Pearls of wisdom: "If you’re a revenge prankster like me, remember: Not everyone is evil, not even telemarketers. Every year around Christmas, when one of them calls, I’ll always say something like, ‘Hmmm, that transmission insurance policy sounds like something I could really use, but it’s kind of expensive, and it is Christmas. Hmmm … Do you think—do you think that if I put my kid on the phone, you could pretend to be Santa Claus and tell him you’re not coming this year?’ So far, no one has taken me up on this. Score one for humanity." Sir Pranksalot Sir John Hargrave got into the pranks business honestly: He was born on April 1. With that head start, he founded one of the premier prankster sites on the Web, zug.com, which stands for "zug is utterly great." The 41-year-old embarked on world hoax domination some years ago when, posing as a ten-year-old, he wrote to every U.S. senator asking them to send him a joke as part of a homework assignment. Many senators responded, including Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski, who contributed this: "Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? Because he didn’t have any guts!" By the way, don’t let Hargrave’s lofty title fool you. He’s from Boston. He added "sir" to his legal name when Buckingham Palace refused to knight him for "honourable pranking." Why do you pull pranks? "It’s a sport for thrill seekers. The moment before you pull off something, it’s pure adrenaline." Best gag you’ve pulled off: "I once filled out my tax forms using Roman numerals. The IRS was not amused." Best gag someone else pulled off: "Mat Benote, a graffiti artist, hung one of his paintings at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. It took two days before they realized it didn’t belong." Any pranks you regret pulling? "No, but I do regret having been punked myself. Before my book Mischief Maker’s Manual was published, I solicited celebrity blurbs on my website. I got an e-mail from a kid who said Eric Idle of Monty Python was his uncle. So the next thing I know, I was e-mailing with Eric Idle, and having conversations with his assistant. A year later, I saw this article, ‘How I Pranked John Hargrave.’ It was the kid—he played all the parts in the prank: Eric Idle, the assistant, everyone." A gag anyone can pull off: "Stick someone’s toothbrush in a Dixie cup of water, and put it in the freezer overnight. Put it back in its normal place in the morning." Pearls of wisdom: "Pranks and practical jokes should never be confused. A practical joke is something you pull on coworkers, like the guys in Utah who transformed their vacationing colleague’s cubicle into a small cottage, complete with a working doorbell, mailbox, and ceiling fan. A prank goes after the man. For example, there’s a video where Tom Cruise is being interviewed. The interviewer is holding a trick microphone and squirts water in Cruise’s face. Cruise starts chewing him out, and we crack up because, well, Tom Cruise is the man." Getting Schooled Tension fills the halls of collegehumor.com. Two of the humor site’s writers are at war, a prank war to be precise. The small-scale gags that Streeter Seidell and Amir Blumenfeld first pulled on each other have ballooned into elaborate productions. In one, Blumenfeld arranged for Seidell and his girlfriend to go to a Yankees game. Unbeknownst to Seidell, Blumenfeld also arranged for the scoreboard to display a bogus wedding proposal. A hidden camera recorded the couple’s reaction. It’s painful to watch. Seidell’s girlfriend is understandably startled. Seidell is even more startled when she accepts. "I did not put that up!" he exclaims. "I don’t want to marry you." She slaps him and leaves. For good. Seidell, 27, says his friendly war with Amir has only escalated since then. Why do you pull pranks? "It began as a fun way to kill boredom. Now I’m just trying to top the one before." Best gag you’ve pulled off: "I arranged for Amir to be selected to take a halftime half-court shot for a half-million dollars at a college basketball game. While Amir was led to a secluded office ‘to sign forms,’ I let the crowd in on the gag and requested their help. When Amir came back, we blindfolded him, and he took his shot … missing by at least 20 feet. But on cue, the crowd went crazy, as if he sank the shot. Amir did a victory lap around the court, yelling and punching the air. It lasted right up to the presentation of the fake check … which was presented by me. That’s when he realized he’d been had." Best gag someone else pulled off: "The lottery ticket prank. Videotape a lottery drawing. The next day, buy a ticket, asking for the same numbers that won the day before. Give that ticket to a friend and watch the ‘live’ drawing together. When he ‘wins,’ he will leap for joy like Amir did … until you turn off the tape." A gag anyone can pull off: "Bet someone that you can make it so they cannot lift a glass of beer off the table with their thumbs. When they’ve agreed to the bet, have them place their thumbs on the table next to each other. Now balance the full glass of beer on their thumbs. Unless they want to take a beer bath, they’re stuck." Pearls of wisdom: "You need a bit of meanness to be funny, but too much and you make people uncomfortable." Like what Amir did to your ex-girlfriend? "Yeah." Prank You Very Much On a freezing January morning, New York City commuters boarded subways from various lines and braced themselves for the day. They could not have expected this: Fellow passengers—businesspeople and college kids alike—removed their pants and skirts and nonchalantly rode to their destination, Union Square, in their underwear. Riders gawked, leered, and laughed their heads off. The ninth annual No Pants Subway Ride was another successful gag perpetrated by Charlie Todd and his New York Prank Collective, Improv Everywhere. Todd has a curiously upbeat mission for a guy trying to pull a fast one on the populace: "Cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places." They stage such scenes about ten times a year. There was the impromptu wedding reception for an unsuspecting couple getting married at City Hall, and Frozen Grand Central, in which 200 "agents" (the preferred term for participants) milled about Grand Central Terminal’s Main Concourse before unexpectedly freezing in place during rush hour. Todd, 31, grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, and moved to New York City in 2001. It was there, in an East Village bar, that something changed his life for good—he pretended to be the alternative rock singer Ben Folds. "People were posing for photographs with me, the bartender gave me free drinks, a girl gave me her number," he says. "But what I liked about it was that it was a positive experience for everybody, even though they were being fooled. When it was over, I didn’t smirk, Ha-ha, you’ve been pranked. I just thanked everyone and left. It gave them something they could tell their friends. Even if they Googled Ben Folds and found out he’s, like, ten years older than me, they’d still have a wonderful story: ‘This guy, for some reason, pretended to be Ben Folds!’ " Why do you pull pranks? "I get excited about pulling pranks that make people smile." Best gag you’ve pulled off: "The fake U2 concert in 2005. We assembled a group of musicians—with me dressed as Bono—and played a rooftop concert in New York. It was a crazy 20 minutes for the crowd watching … especially when the police arrested us for unreasonable noise." Best gag someone else pulled off: "Rob Cockerham posted a fake T.G.I. Friday’s menu page on his website cockeyed.com and encouraged people to insert it inside a real T.G.I. Friday menu. It parodied the Atkins Diet and had really disgusting stuff, like Bacon Churner with Faux-tatoes: two whole sticks of fresh Dutch dairy butter on a bed of crisp bacon." A gag anyone can pull off: "Here’s one my college roommates pulled on me: They covered every object and surface in my bedroom with tin foil. All the windows and lightbulbs were blacked out. I needed a flashlight to even figure out what was going on." Pearls of wisdom: "Anyone can pull pranks. Look at Frozen Grand Central. All you have to do is freeze in place." Revenge of the Nerds A self-described nerd’s paradise, MIT has a long tradition of hoaxes. The students’ favorite target is the school’s Great Dome, home to the engineering library. Over the years, the dome has been dressed up like R2D2, accessorized with a solar-powered subway car that moved along a track, and crowned with a beanie. But in 1994, the ante was upped when students awoke to find a police car, with blinking lights, parked 150 feet high. Closer investigation revealed a parking ticket tucked under the windshield wipers and a dummy dressed as a campus policeman, a box of doughnuts at his side.
"Do you need to see my military ID?" he asked.
"That's all right," she said. "I know you were in the military. I can tell by your T-shirt."
Grandpa's shirt read "Welcome to Gettysburg National Military Park."
Dolt No. 1 says, "Hey, deer tracks!"
Dolt No. 2 says, "No, dog tracks!"
Dolt No. 3 says, "You’re both crazy—they’re cow tracks!"
They were still arguing when the train hit them.
"You better learn how to fire your weapon," he told her. "All soldiers have to qualify on the range before we can send them to Iraq."
The medic was relieved. "Then it's okay," she said. "I'm not going to Iraq. I'm going to Baghdad."
"He almost made it."
"This is the largest building I’ve ever been in!" he said. "What do you call it?"
His brother answered, "The outside."
The defendant leaps to his feet. "Awesome!" he shouts. "Does that mean I get to keep the money?"
Frank Ferri … is in a marriage-counseling session with his wife, wondering what the score of the football game is. Go, Eagles!
Frank Ferri … thinks that if his boss doesn't like him sleeping on the floor of the office, then his boss shouldn't have gotten such comfy carpets.
Frank Ferri … needs help robbing the bank over on the corner of Main and Willow. Any takers? Be there around noonish.
He responded, "Only on the interstate."
… You believe flattery will get you anywhere. Adan Juarez Ramirez had it all figured out—he could be a cop without having to take the boring test. But he was arrested in Grapevine, Texas, after pulling over a driver in his pickup truck, outfitted with flashing lights. He even had an ID badge, which he'd made by blacking out a restaurant gift card and etching in the word "POLICE." However, he'd kept the restaurant's logo, a jalapeño pepper surrounded by the words "Chipotle Mexican Grill." [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Some criminals can get away with anything--not these.[/caption]
… You leave IOUs. Graham Price of South Wales ripped off the bank where he worked, but he wasn't completely duplicitous. He left a note in the safe: "Borrowed, seven million pounds"—signed "Graham Price."
… You vastly overrate your powers of persuasion. Marlon Moore of Miami filed a fraudulent tax return, and the IRS promptly sent him a $10,000 refund. So figuring, Why not try my luck again?, he sent in three more tax returns. But even the IRS raised an eyebrow at cutting him a check for the total amount of the refunds: more than $14 trillion. Moore pleaded guilty to cashing the $10,000 check.
… You think presidents need a promotion. James Rhyne of Memphis was charged with forgery after he handed a waitress a $100 bill. The waitress knew something was funny with the money: Instead of the portly visage of Ben Franklin, it was the star of the $5 bill, Abe Lincoln, who was staring back at her.
… You leave a paper trail. Hickory, North Carolina, cops were able to solve in record time the mystery of the two cash registers purloined from the Captain's Galley restaurant. Their big break came when they discovered a trail of white register tape. They followed it 50 yards to an apartment, where, they say, Donny Guy was cracking the registers open.
… You love too much. Maybe Stephfon Bennett should try online dating. After he and two accomplices allegedly mugged a couple in Columbus, Ohio, police say he found the woman's ID in her purse, then showed up at her door with a simple proposal: How about a date? Since a girl likes to play hard to get, she called the cops, who arrested Bennett outside her home.
… You skimp on travel expenses. Twelve Middle Eastern immigrants forgot the first rule of sneaking into a country: Don't call attention to yourself. En route to England from Germany, they snuck a ride in the back of a man's truck. They stayed mum throughout their trip, even as they crossed the Channel into England. But once they hit Dover, they celebrated their arrival with songs and whoops. Not for long, though. The startled driver headed to a police station, where the 12 were apprehended.
… You're not picky about your office location. Christopher Oxley of Everett, Washington, was arrested for conducting a drug deal over the phone—in the bathroom of the Everett Police Department.
… You're convinced the laws of physics don't apply to you. Clive Halford thinks big! The British career criminal stole a truck and loaded it with 18 pallets of stolen nickel and copper worth around £150,000 (about $250,000). Yes, the haul was huge—too huge. Cops arrested Halford after the truck's suspension collapsed under the weight. Earlier, Halford had stolen a car, overloaded it, and broken its suspension too.
… You text and rob. Nicholas Greenly dropped his cell phone near where an 84-year-old woman had her purse snatched in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Cops suspected that he might be involved in the crime when they read the phone's last outgoing text message: "I am ready to grab some old lady's purse."
… You play both roles in a game of cops and robbers. Being a key suspect in a robbery wasn't going to stop Romeo Montillano from realizing his dream of becoming a Chula Vista, California, police officer. Unfortunately for Montillano, his would-be colleagues put the kibosh on his plans, arresting him when he showed up to take the entrance exam. As he was led away, Montillano had one question: Could he take the test later? His request was denied.
… You make every day Take Your Child to Work Day. Callie Rough of Middletown, Ohio, was picked up for shoplifting from a Dollar General store with her two young children in tow. Among the booty was a book, 101 Ways to Be a Great Mom.
… You take the holidays too seriously. Robert E. Dendy of upstate New York presented the local police station with a Christmas wreath. Since the officers were well acquainted with Dendy, they did some snooping and arrested him for stealing the wreath from a store down the block.
… You let your supply of antismoking patches run out. An Indiana state trooper stopped a car for a traffic violation. When a passenger, Honesty Knight, asked if she could smoke, the officer said yes. She proceeded, police say, to light up a joint.
… You air your neighbor's dirty laundry. As she walked around her neighbor's yard sale in Severn, Maryland, the woman couldn't help admiring the items. The Oriental rug, the luggage, the shoes—they were exactly her style. And why not? They were hers, as was everything else on display. David Perticone says somebody sold him the stuff. But cops think Perticone did the deed himself.
… You can't let go of your friends. Two New Zealand prisoners had the brilliant idea of fleeing the courthouse while tethered together by handcuffs. They might have escaped had a light pole not gotten between them. Like a pair of click-clacks, they slammed into each other and were arrested trying to get back to their feet.
… You neglect to look up local hotels on your GPS. Mitchell Deslatte walked into a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hotel and asked the clerk for a room. Only, the clerk wasn't a clerk—he was a state trooper. And the hotel was actually a state trooper station. That's when Deslatte was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.
… You don't know when to write off a loss. John Opperman-Green robbed a Kissimmee, Florida, 7-Eleven, then called the cops to complain when he tried to hitch a ride with strangers, who, in turn, robbed him.
… You harbor grudges. Joseph Goetz's alleged attempt to rob a York, Pennsylvania, bank met with some snags. Cops say the first teller he tried to rob fainted and the next two insisted they had no cash in their drawers. Fed up, Goetz stormed out, threatening to write an angry letter to the bank.
… You leave a far too indelible impression. Victims of a home robbery in Riverview, Florida, easily picked out Sean Roberts from police photos. Turns out, there aren't too many other people with a map of Florida tattooed on their face. Still, Roberts is pleading not guilty.
… You depend on the kindness of strangers. Christopher Wilson of Spokane left his name and phone number with clerks at a home-improvement store should anyone find something of his that he'd dropped, according to police. They did find something, and Wilson was arrested for possession of methamphetamines.
… Even your wardrobe turns against you. When pleading guilty to a DUI charge, let your lawyer do the talking. New Zealander Keisha Lee Kubala ignored that sensible advice and instead showed up in court wearing a T-shirt that said it all: "Miss Wasted."
"Didn't you hear me pounding on the ceiling?" he asked.
The woman smiled pleasantly. "That's okay. We were making a lot of noise ourselves."
"Sirs, to open the hatch," he began, "turn this lever to the right, then pull that handle."
"What if we don’t follow that sequence?" a second lieutenant asked.
"Then, sir," said the sergeant patiently, "you hit the hatch handle with a crash axe."
"That’ll open the hatch?"
"No, sir. But it will keep your mind occupied until you crash."
"No," he answered. "My hearing is scheduled for next week."
"No," she said, "they're mostly locals."
I was about to respond, but his wife did the honors. "That’s right, Charlie," she said.
"Next time you want to go from San Juan to New York, you take the train."
Later, the girl's mom says, "Dear, he doesn't seem to be a very nice boy."
"Oh, please, Mom!" says the daughter. "If he wasn't nice, would he be doing 500 hours of community service?"
"When did they sign it?" one passenger asks.
"1215," the guide responds.
"Dang! We missed it by 20 minutes."
I should have been a little more specific, because when I went to check it later, I didn't find any bottles in it. But it was full of water.
"No," says the salesperson. "It'll kill 'em!"
One genius answered, "I've always thought Superman's X-ray vision would be cool."
"Well," she began, "I guess you could say we're happy-as happy as most other couples nowadays."
"Two questions," said the baker. "Is Donsa a man or a woman? And what do you want the cake to say?"
"The cake should read ‘Congratulations'" the boss said. "Oh, and Donsa"s a woman." The next day, the office celebrated with a cake that read "Congratulations—Donsa's a woman."
"No," he said. "It's 10:46."
After inflating the playground balls, our school custodian, a classical music fanatic, had an odd habit of writing the names of famous composers on them. No one seemed particularly bothered by this behavior except for one parent volunteer.
"Can you believe this?" she said, thrusting a basketball under my nose. "Some kid wrote his name on all the balls!"
"Who was it?" I asked.
Spanish never came easily to my sister. Still, she did her best to communicate with the Spanish-speaking staff at the restaurant she managed. But when she made mistakes—and she made a lot—she'd apologize by saying, "Me estúpido."
Finally, a staffer took pity on her. "Susanna, you're not estúpido," she said, bucking up my sister's ego. "You are a woman," she continued. "So you are estúpida."
The day before exams, four college roommates decided to stay up late drinking. Needless to say, they were late for class the next morning. But they thought they had a good alibi.
“We blew a tire on the way here,” said one of them.
“OK,” said the professor, “but you will have to take a different version of the exam than the other students.”
The first question, worth 95 points, read: “Which tire did you blow?”
A woman walked into our copy shop to pick up a large order. While there, she asked me to make a copy of her driver's license, birth certificate and passport. When I gave her the total price, she asked if she could pay with a personal check.
"Sure," I said automatically. "I just need to see some ID."
Heading down the interstate, our car passed through a huge swarm of gnats so dense that their bodies made popping noises as they hit the windshield. "I can't get over how loud they are," my wife said.
"Well, we are hitting them at 65 miles an hour," I pointed out.
Her reply left me speechless. "I didn't know bugs could fly that fast."
My friend was flabbergasted. She'd read that in a recent survey, our home state of California was ranked 47 in a list of the nation's smartest states.
"Can you believe that?" she fumed. "We're 47 out of 52!"