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Hoax and Prank

  • By: Rodney Marks & Jessica Milner Davis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The high comedy potential of hoaxes and pranks is partly related to their riskiness in terms of falling flat or giving offense. They may be rejected as not being at all funny, not merely by their victims but by a wider audience. Partly because of these serious risks of failure, when they do succeed without hurting, other than an acceptable loss of face, they are extremely funny indeed for all concerned. Despite this, many hoaxes are not at all funny, nor are they intended to be so: They are designed to further the interests of the perpetrators with serious deleterious consequences for the victims, as in business scams, swindles of individuals, and political dirty tricks. This entry considers only comic hoaxes and pranks. Hoaxes can ...

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