Apostate Fools

We’ve never done an April Fools’ joke here, and I’d never though about why until someone asked me today. The big reason is that the kind of April Fools’ joke that I enjoy takes a fair amount of effort and is so seldom done well.

I enjoy April Fools’ jokes that are both obvious and amusing. I do not enjoy the “say something stupid and unfunny” approach to April Fools’ jokes, and I’m especially leery of pranks. They’re hard to make plausible and funny enough to overcome the prankiness of them, and they can completely misfire. Several years ago, one forum I used to frequent announced the day before, “We’re having to shut down. We can’t pay for all of the bandwidth we’re using. We’ll be closing tomorrow.” As you can imagine, forum regulars went crazy. They organized donation drives through PayPal and suggested cutting out the ability to post pictures and especially videos. A few people scoffed, saying, “Look at the date!”, to which the forum owner replied, “I only wish this were an April Fools’ joke.”

One day later, he said, “April Fools! Ha ha!”

See, that’s not funny, it’s not a good practical joke, and it sapped support for the forum.

Moreover, if I wanted to trick you, why would I do so today, when you’re expecting it? To pick an entirely hypothetical example, if I wanted to rickroll you, I wouldn’t do it now, when you’re going to view every link with suspicion.

Being funny on command isn’t easy. One of the benefits of this blog is that I can post funny things as I think of them. Putting humor on a schedule is too much like actual work for my tastes. And there are enough examples of bad and unfunny jokes that I’m not tempted to add to them.

It’s not all a vast wasteland. Virgle is good, and clearly took a lot of effort. Blizzard’s announcements were in good fun. And Wizards of the Coast did a fake D&D errata that I enjoyed, though I expect you won’t enjoy it as much if you aren’t a fan of D&D. But on the whole, I think I’ll sit this holiday out.

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