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Practical Jokes

  • By: Moira Marsh
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

A practical joke or prank is a play activity in which one party (called the trickster or tricksters) arranges things so that another party (the target or targets) is led to have a false idea about what is currently going on. The targets of practical jokes may also be called dupes, butts, or victims. When practical jokes are played on large groups of people in public settings, they are often called hoaxes.

Practical jokes may be divided into several types. Put-ons or leg-pulls are intended to fool the targets only momentarily. Booby traps trick the targets into treating an adulterated part of their environment as if it were untouched, often causing them mess and inconvenience. Physical humor may be part of the enjoyment in this type ...

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