4 TV Pranks Better Than Anything Ashton Kutcher Could Ever Dream Of
In light of the recent announcement of the resurrection of "Punk'd" (which, honestly, seems like a really bad idea), it's only fitting to explore a few TV pranks that are better than anything Ashton Kutcher could ever dream of—even if they are fictional. A joke with emotional, and possibly physical, payoff marks a prank as its own creature, one that lives and dies by the target’s response. Move past the bucket of water over the door or the combination of a line of baby powder and a blow dryer and into the realm of going after your victim’s sanity as you learn from these masters of the prank. Watch and learn, Kutcher.
Jay’s “Innocente” Prank from “Modern Family” Manny introduces Jay to a new Christmas tradition, straight from Colombia, of pranking people and he does it hard and fast by hitting Jay during their viewing of the classic “Miracle on 34th Street” by playing an altered video. Jay’s emotional roots in the traditional holiday moments of an American Christmas tug at your childhood heart strings and help you buy into the surprise element of his prank. He pranks them with his banning of Manny and Gloria’s different cultural celebration and then hits them with his acceptance as he shows off the fireworks that he bought to show that he wants to engage in their frivolity. Beyond the funny, this prank in “Modern Family” is better than an Ashton Kutcher prank as it contains a lot of heartfelt warmth and familial love, which makes the prank hit harder and pay off bigger.
Barney's prank war, “How I Met Your Mother”. Barney engages in a prank assault on Clark Butterfield, an office habitant across the street. Combining the best of the old school physical prank world such as food tampering with the speed of modern technology for revealing the prank through emailed pictures, Barney becomes a prank lord in “Milk”as he takes Butterfield’s retaliatory prank in stride as well as the backfire of his own plague of mice plan. The acceptance of inadvertently pranking himself makes this a TV prank that beats anything Ashton Kutcher could devise, as it has that element of humility that makes the humor all that much sweeter.
Ron’s “Woman of the Year” award prank on Leslie, “Parks and Recreation”. Ron Swanson pretends he cares about winning an award in “Woman of the Year”, which drives his colleague Leslie Knope mental. Not content to just let her simmer, Ron actually fakes a professional photo shoot that he pays for himself, in order to convince Leslie that he actually cares about the award. With a blend of dismissive remarks about he award and sincerity about his acceptance, Ron drives Leslie straight up a wall. The quick and well thought out planning behind this prank makes it the kind of TV prank everyone can respect while they’re simultaneously shooting coffee out their nose from laughing too hard.
The ending, “Lost”. A great prank gets the victim invested in the joke. Slowly the prankee follows the trail of rose petals or fifty dollar bills along the path you’ve created until they hit that invisible “X” you marked for where the water balloons will land. Now add a few million victims, make it a six year long prank and you get the ending of “Lost” amusingly titled “The End”. After five seasons of digging behind the names, the numbers, the locations and the references the audience of “Lost” was waiting for the sixth season payoff that would make the time they spent worthwhile but instead the inhabitants of the island were all dead and got to see a bright light and go to Heaven. Yep, Heaven is the resolution to the mysteries and conjecture so if you weren’t cursing at the credits then you’re probably suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. The white light wasn’t even a train being driven by the smoke monster because that ending would’ve had enough “WTF” to it to let you laugh off the last six years you faithfully followed the show. The ending to “Lost” was the greatest TV prank played and much better than anything Kutcher could have dreamt of. After midnight, if you're very quiet, you can hear the haunting echo of “Lost” DVD sets hitting eBay right after "The End" aired.