How To: Pull a Prank

I lean on the counter at my restaurant job, eagerly staring at two coworkers a few feet from me who have their backs to each other. I contemplate how much time I actually have.

I quickly leap into action as I grab each of their apron strings and tie them into a knot. I nonchalantly retreat back to my original position, waiting; I look down hiding a grin. Seconds later the two walk apart almost simultaneously. I am the only person around to witness this hoax, but my reaction is still the same and so is the outcome. The two servers felt themselves jolting backward before realizing they were tied together by their aprons. I belt out a huge laugh as I walk away prideful knowing that my plot came to fruition.

Becoming a prankster, let alone being a skilled one, is not an easy task. You may ask yourself: “What makes a good prankster? Is it possessing the ability of successfully tricking someone, is it the consistent act of pranking or is it all in the severity of the prank itself?” Getting into the routine of pulling off pranks — big or small — is a good way to start. Whether or not you want to be caught is strictly up to you. It depends on how proud you are of the work you have done.

In my experience, the bigger the prank, the greater the chance of disappointment if it falls flat. During a friendly few months of prank wars that involved my roommates and I against our friends nearby, we thought it a good idea to fill their body washes with Nair— a hair removal product— and their shampoos with red hair dye. We were reluctant to believe that the hair dye could actually work for the simple fact that none of their shampoo happened to be red in color and as a result they all noticed right away. The Nair on the other hand kind of worked as one of the guys lathered his chest with the body wash.

Lesson #1: Always know your target

Typically, amateur pranks are just done on the fly with very little thought behind it. It is important not to rush a good idea such as the hair dye example. In retrospect, we should have done some recon work around their home during one of our weekly social gatherings. We could have taken note of the body wash and shampoo they use, the color of the substance and the volume of the bottle.

The type of shampoo matters. It is pivotal to figure out if the consistency of the dye and the shampoo mix properly, and that the color and the volume are consistent. One of the problems with the Nair and body wash mixture is that we poured too much into their bottle, which made the mixture too soft.

Lesson #2: Leave no traces of evidence behind

A successful prank should look like you did nothing at all. It is important to retrace your steps by going back to each trap you set up and making sure your fingerprints cannot be found. If you are attempting to prank a few professionals — much like the friends we were trying to — they have a keen eye for anything out of the ordinary. After years of pranks, my friends may need some psychiatric help for not trusting anything*. Either way steps one and two go hand in hand here.

During another one of our failed attempts, a girl who helped us left the plastic wrap box on top of the toilet seat. From there, the rest of the pranks just went sour. Only one roommate was there to notice the abysmal prank-job. When the remaining roommates heard the news, they simply laughed at our pathetic attempt.

Another example which also goes back to lesson one is if you are going to use Ex-lax (or any laxative for that matter) as part of your prank, do not mix it with anything that is clear such as water or Sprite. It is best to mix it with drinks that are dark or are put into dark colored bottles. We liked to think the Ex-lax was a solid touch when we mixed it with their Sparkletts Bottle of water. That just did not mix; the Ex-lax floated to the top.

Lesson #3: Know your limits

By this I mean it is up to you and your friends as where to draw the line. There is nothing worse than a prank war ending because of an atomic bomb being dropped. Unless you genuinely do not like this person, then I believe the saying goes “all is fair in love and war.” However, if your subject(s) happens to be a close friend, then it may be important to establish boundaries. Basically, be clever and not a jerk.

Lesson #4: A combination of the previous three

The longer it takes for the trap to be sprung, the better. Good things come to those who wait. The best example I could give is how the prank war really kicked-off with me; unfortunately my roommates and I were on the receiving end. One of the roommates in the opposing house went fishing one weekend and caught hordes of Crappie and Sunfish from Tempe Town Lake. On the night of my roommate’s power hour on Mill Avenue, two of the guys from the opposing house snuck into ours and hid the putrid fish in various places such as closets, under couches and in the refrigerator. It took two days for the smell to start kicking in. We knew they had gotten us after a member of the opposing house visited to admire his handiwork and could not hold back his smirk. The smell that overcame the house put us on edge for a while. We left every window open for a week and blessed the house with Febreeze as if it were an exorcism.

Lesson #5: Appreciate the little things

The small minuscule pranks can sometimes be better than one big one. Personally I take pride in my small, albeit immature, pranks I pull when I work at my restaurant job.  It is always fun watching coworkers take giant sips of their soda after running around serving but then slowly realize they are drinking mustard, mayonnaise, hot sauce, horseradish or my personal favorite malt vinegar through their straws. The apron pranks are also a personal favorite of mine if you could not tell from earlier. But this requires a very sneaky technique of approaching your subject quietly, grabbing anything nearby such as brooms or long strands of paper and tying the strings to those objects.

Just remember, everything is in the details. It is important to always have the best intentions of just making someone— including yourself— laugh. Never do it out of malice. This is when things can go wrong. Messing with someone’s food by putting hot sauce under the cheese of their slice of pizza can be hysterically funny but remember that it’s someone’s meal and it may result in you having to buy another slice of pizza…though it could very well be worth it.

Have fun with what you are doing but in the words of Michael Scott, “Keep it simple stupid.”


*During a prank war, never trust anyone. Be on your guard.


Reach the reporter at or via Twitter @ShawnFVRaymundo

Reach the videographer at

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.