Music and pranks

On 23rd March 2009, the commuters in Belgium’s Grand Central metro station suddenly got to hear Julie Andrews “Do Re Mi” on the announcement system. Soon it broke out into something they will remember for their lives.

A musical prank played by VTM – a 200 strong flash mob dance stunt to announce their newest reality television program “Op zoek naar Maria”. The idea was to search for an actress who would play the leading role in the The Sound of Music. See the video below to know what happen. Be prepared to be enthralled.

Earlier this year in January, T-Mobile in the UK launched an advertising campaign that had a similar flash mob dancing in London’s Liverpool Street Station. 350 dancers made the day for commuters passing through the railway station. That was an advertising campaign aired on TV later in the same month.

I am not anyone’s idea of a good dancer, but there is something about well choreographed dances that just make you feel GOOD. Real good.

On a related note, it’s not news to anyone that I absolutely love pranks. I love pranks made on public like the above few examples – not the ones that are for slapstick fun though. I am talking of those that deliver a tiny message – take a deep breath, and appreciate what’s around you. A while ago, I wrote about Prangstgrup, a group based in Columbia University that did simply amazing things – a musical in the middle of a lecture, in a library, teaching architecture to absolute strangers in the metro – 17 masterpieces since I checked!

Have you seen the one where about 200 people in the Grand Central subway, New York just froze in their steps? Or when in a book store, about 60 cellphones in bags outside the store started to ring simultaneously? Surprise a random couple who just got married in the city hall with a complete wedding reception? Visit Improv Everywhere and you will be surprised at the things they have done. 🙂

Early in 2007, the Washington Post decided to conduct an experiment. A man dressed ordinarily in jeans, t-shirt and a baseball cap took out his violin and played music on a street during the morning rush hour. He played six classical pieces in 43 minutes, and a total of 1097 people crossed him at that time. 7 people stopped what they were doing to listen to him for a minute. A total of 27 people dropped in change amounting to a total of $32 or so. The rest 1070 people were too busy to pay attention. Probably irritated with poor people who present an unbecoming look to them every morning. This nondescript fiddler was Joshua Bell, who is a child prodigy when it comes to playing the violin. People pay hundreds of dollars to see him play at concerts. A man who earns $1,000 a minute. Why does beauty such as this need to be set up for us to appreciate it? [Source]

Edited to add: Bollywood Heroes did a similar thing to promote their own show. Last week on August 4th, 2009, dozens of Bollywood dancers suddenly began to dance in the middle of Times Square, New York. Nice low budget advertising, I would say. Oh and I ABSOLUTELY ADORE the girl in the yellow dress! Via Indiequill

Harmless Office Pranks – Part 2

Ok, so here is the second installment of office pranks (see first one here), except that these are not computer based. I have done a couple of these, and like I have mentioned in my previous post, make sure your target is a sport! You do not want to (a) get caught, (b) get fired. Most of these can be done, or rather should be done, when there is no one around – like after hours or so. In some cases, get a teammate – more the creativity, the better it is! So here’s my list of (almost) harmless office pranks – that are not computer related.

1. Photocopier needs to be fixed
Most of you office goers have access to a photocopier. That means you also know how and where the paper is loaded! Now, keep an object like a key or a pen on the glass, and make 50 copies of the same. You will have 50 pages that have a key/pen marked on the glass. Replace these 50 papers in the copier tray. Whenever people make copies the next day, there is going to be a black key/pen on the paper and they will think there is a key/pen in the copier. Tech support is going to be puzzled for a while.
Extremely funny/risky variation: Keep an annoying person’s narcissistic photo instead of the key/pen and make 50 or more copies. Everyone’s photocopied paper is going to have that photo as the background of their document!

2. The small time altruist
This one is a tip from Ankur, and it totally cracked me up. For every single day of the year (365 days), keep a penny (or a 5 paisa coin) on the desk of your target. Every single day. Unmistakeably. He will come in every day at work and find this coin and will not know where it came from. Initially he will be amused, then perplexed, and towards the month end he will be frustrated like crazy. Don’t worry, the fun continues for 11 more months! It costs you $3.65 or Rs 19 the whole year. Totally worth it.

3. Label everything. EVERYTHING.
If you have a label maker, then great. If not, gather around a troop and label everything on your target’s desk. Pens, paper, monitor, button, book, chair, arm rest, dirt, mouse, mouse pad, mug, glass, photos… everything! It’s fairly amusing. If possible, keep doing it every week. Pranks keep getting funnier if no one knows who’s behind all of it!

4. Wrap it all up!
This is fairly time consuming, but if pulled off, it is HILARIOUS. I did this with newspaper – but it is much much  better if you can do it with aluminum foil or saran wrap. Wrap everything in sight… and definitely don’t forget the chair. Monitor, mouse, wires, phone, stationery, books even the table itself. Make sure you are there to see the look on your target’s face!

5. The lewd mug
This is a definite favorite of mine. Very harmless but can cause a laugh riot. Your target should be someone who really loves his mug for drinking coffee or water. Even better if your target is somewhat obsessed with the mug. You will need a somewhat revealing photo of a scantily clad model. In the absence of your target, take the mug, and draw out a circle the size of the base of the mug on the photo. Pick a region that is most sexy – like the shoulders to the thighs. Cut out that part, and paste it to the bottom of the mug. Whenever your target drinks out of the mug, the other person clearly sees the racy picture stuck to the mug. Funnier if the boss is around, or in a conference meeting!

6. Vaseline on the toilet seat
Copious amounts of Vaseline. Oh it becomes so slippery and stays invisible… enough said.

7. Crime scene
Get police crime scene tape (toy stores typically have it). On the floor, draw the outline of a dead man with chalk, or colored tape, whatever permits. Cordon off the entrance with the tape. Not hilarious, but definitely fun!

8. Watery
Get a team with you on this one. Purchase about 200 paper cups and arrange them densely on the floor of your target’s cubicle. Fill water in all of them, one by one. Make sure you don’t fill upto the rim – it will spill when moved. The only way your target can get through to his chair is by drinking all of it! Want to make it even more fun? Staple all the cups together! It is important that it should be paper when you are stapling them together – plastic or styrofoam will not survive staples!

9. Kidnap, but don’t ask for ransom
‘Kidnap’ a precious item of your target. Take multiple photos of it in different forms of torture. At different times, drop one photo in his cubicle – never ask for a ransom. If he never tries to retrieve it, do the same with another object and continue! Pick an object of extreme importance to him… a soft toy from a girlfriend is ideal!

Remember: Always always keep a straight face. Try to solve the mystery with the target. You must be the last person he suspects!