What better way to celebrate the passing of the holiday season than with some good old-fashioned prank wars? We're not talking hidden cameras and cheesy gags — we're talking ongoing, no-holds-barred battles. The clips below contain some of the most hilarious (and cringe-worthy) public pranks between friends, coworkers, couples and rival schools.
Last week, NPR’s This American Life explored “Nemeses.” The episode wraps with a hilarious — and intense — piece from comedian Chris Gethard titled “A Tale of Two Jerseys.” The essay, an excerpt from his forthcoming book A Bad Idea I’m About To Do, is markedly less drastic than the episode's other, more political stories, translating themes of personal pride and pure contempt to a relatable level. In recalling an online prank that led to a real-life standoff, Gethard’s describing the motivation behind every great prank war: the non-negotiable need to hold the upper hand, even when the stakes are low. Or, when the rivalry’s over absolutely nothing.
Listen to This American Life Episode 453: Nemeses
Chris Gethard vs. Will Hines
It wouldn’t be the last time Gethard got himself into an ongoing battle; several years ago, after introducing fellow comic Will Hines as “the least funny part” of a show, a full-on prank war ensued. Though much of the exchange consists of Hines repeatedly breaking into Gethard’s apartment, filming himself wiping his ass with Chris' stuff, there have been some brilliant bits — like when Gethard “retaliated” by taking Hines’ girlfriend out on the best date of her life:
One of the most well known (and well-executed) prank wars began in 2006 between CollegeHumor employees Streeter Seidell and Amir Blumenfeld. There haven’t been any updates since 2009’s Skydiving Prank, but the two are probably just taking their time planning the next move.
The rivalry kicked off with the Audio Prank: Streeter, sick of hearing Amir’s iTunes karaoke in the office, posted a video of his secret singing. It. Was. On. Over the next few months, Amir retaliated (setting Streeter up on a fake date), Streeter struck back (staging a dismal audition for Amir) and Amir upped the ante (convincing an entire audience to stay stone-faced during Streeter’s stand up set).
Then, things got really intense. The next prank involved flying all the way to LA to humiliate Amir in front of the Human Giant cast. Perhaps the most well known prank in this rivalry, The Yankee Prankee, involved a very public, very unintended proposal (and an unsurprising slap in the face):
For The Half Million Dollar Shot, Streeter got a whole stadium to convince Amir that he made an impossible, blindfolded basket to win big money. In the latest video, Amir made the most malicious move yet, sending Streeter on a skydiving trip with a “faulty parachute” (serious bonus points for no pants-peeing during this one).
Most of Nikki Baker and John Dahl’s burns would be absolutely vile if they weren’t so damn cute. The couple met in high school, when John blasted a spray of beer foam in Nikki’s face. His fifth grade-level flirting tactic earned him a well deserved kick in the crotch but, nearly a decade later, the two are engaged — and pranking each other so often that their ongoing web series has a new episode every week (even earning their very own episode of MTV’s Pranked).
From spiking sweets with spicy peppers to replacing shampoo with bleach, nothing’s off limits between Nikki and John (we’re sure their future child will come out of adolescence with some great, twisted stories). It’s the sign of a lasting relationship that their pranks can test the most practical boundaries and always blow over; like this one, from Thanksgiving, when John “ruins” the turkey Nikki spent all day slaving over:
At a tough school like MIT, students need more than parties to blow off steam — they need pranks (they call them “hacks,” natch). For decades, MIT’s Cambridge campus has been the victim of many mind-boggling, labor-intensive gags. One of the school’s most recognizable buildings, the Great Dome, is a constant target; sometimes, mysterious objects appear atop the dome. And sometimes, it gets a full-blown makeover. In 1990, a group of students covered the entrance to the President’s office, convincing passerby the door has straight up disappeared. They're also known for interrupting the annual Harvard/Yale football game (a rivalry comparable to Sox vs. Yanks), blowing up balloons on the middle of the field, messing up fan signs and more.
In 2006, MIT waged war against rival school Cal Tech, stealing a storied Civil War cannon from their Pasadena campus and carting it, cross-country, to Boston. Tech students took the only available recourse: they stormed the MIT campus and took their cannon back (beware, salty language below):
So: don't try these at home. Or, if you do, make sure you get plenty of video — everyone loves to watch people get pranked.