Author: Sir John Hargrave
Publisher: Citadel Press
Reviewer: Adam Brown
Summary: Pranks, humor.
Buy: Amazon ($9.95)
If you've been on the Internet for more than a few years, there's a good chance you've heard about one of Sir John Hargrave's pranks, either via a forwarded email, a site like Fazed, or even the media. For years now, he's been entertaining the Internet, and has at long last combined the best pranks into a book, "Prank The Monkey." And while a lot of these stories can be read for free on his website zug.com
, having the best of them collected into a book makes it easy to hand to someone that may not be familiar with the site and say "read this, laugh."
The thing about Sir John that's so likable is the fact that he's one of us. A regular guy with a regular job dealing with the same spammers, faceless corporations and inane celebrity entertainment we've all grown to loathe, and unfortunately, tolerate. Rather than give up and let the man have his way, Sir John finds clever ways to stick it to him, make a bit of a point, and keep you smiling the whole time. As much as I enjoyed the book, I found myself feeling guilty that I haven't done more to protest the homogenization of our lives, because while a lot of the pranks are intended to be funny on the surface, they're also quite thought-provoking, and often inspired by some small injustice that would normally go unpunished.
The book starts by taking us through pranks on various corporations. My favorite, easily, was his attempt to create a "Starbucks Express" store within an existing Starbucks where he brewed their own coffee with a pot of his own, and then attempted to sell it to customers that just wanted a quick cup, and didn't want to wait in line behind all the people ordering something more fancy. The next section on spammers leads to experiments with Viagra, penis enlargement pills, and an extremely satisfying late-night call to a man that sent one too many unsolicited emails. For me, though, the highlight of the entire book was the section on celebrities. Many of you may remember a few years ago when a hoax was circulated about Ashton Kutcher's voice mail getting "hacked," and some revealing messages released about his sexual prowess. Most media outlets carried the story, but failed to followup on what really happened. Needless to say, the king of "Punk'd" met his match, and slunk away in fear.
If I had to make one complaint about the book, I would have liked more stories of pranks that didn't work out so perfectly. Maybe that wouldn't make for good entertainment, but sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder how someone could get so lucky with the timing of some of these things. There's a few times when the situations seem almost too perfect, and even the bloopers turn out right in the end. Perhaps this is a testament to the careful planning and preparation that goes into each prank.
So, if you're looking for a laugh at the expense of the man, or want to introduce someone to humor that's not spoon-fed to them through network television, this is the book for you. One thing is for certain: Sir John Hargrave brings the funny!