I, for one, am OK with the end of April Fool's Day


By now, you've probably heard of the proposal from the White House to abolish April Fool's Day as a national holiday starting in 2015. Some in the comedy community are upset at the end of an old tradition and a day devoted to what we love.

But it's time to face facts. It's just not working any more. When I was a kid, April 1st was mostly a day of physical pranks or very short gags. You would replace the sugar with salt or put a white powder in an envelope. But the internet changed it and made every gag global.

The key to a good gag was the person believing in the gag and then suddenly remembering what day it was. If you were lucky they didn't clue in and you could exclaim "April Fool" for much hilarity.

It was common in days past for people to forget what day it was. One of my best pranks came decades ago, when I posted in Science Fiction forums on April 1 that Fred Saberhagen's "Berserker" novels were a rip-off of the fine original Battlestar Galactica series. Over 70 different people posted rants about how stupid I was, and a serious fraction of them pointed out that the Saberhagen books long predated Galactica, and said things like "why don't you check the dates on what you read?"

Now, nobody is surprised. Google has 13 different gags up today, including one on the front page. Every major web site has a gag, many have long traditions. Perhaps somebody is briefly surprised by the first one, but generally everybody knows what day it is and nobody is fooled.

Some have proposed that the national Fool's day be moved to a random day each year, with not much promotion done about what the date is. People who were funny (or thought they were funny) would make sure they knew the date. I am not sure that's enough -- it would help make the first gag a surprise but soon the tolerance would build up.

A bit better is the proposal from then National Comedy & Gag Association to have a different day in each state, as proclaimed by the Governor, or even every city. This would allow surprise because when you read jokes from other geographic regions, you might see only half a dozen on any given day. You would then have to research the location of the joke and check to see if that location is having its local Fool's day that day.

Can anything restore the sanctity of this holiday? It may be that this is one thing the internet has destroyed.


I agree. This occurred in 2006: It had gotten so in A Tale in the Desert (the MMORPG I develop) everyone was expecting the usual April Fools day prank - some silly way that I'd change the game, different every year. One year we had combat (ATITD usually has none), one year I announced that we were starting to accept in-game ads, and then littered the whole world with McDonald's arches. That kind of thing. The pranks usually took several days to code, and they were a one-time thing, so lots of work for little impact.

Anyway, that year I apologized to the players and just explained that I hadn't realized it was April first until that morning, and though I had a good joke in mind, I just didn't have the code ready. I offered that we could just skip the joke this year, or that I could code it over the next couple days and then we'd celebrate it the following weekend. We ran an in-game poll all day to see which option people preferred.

In reality, the joke had already started. The chat system had been reprogrammed to slowly and subtly corrupt all in-game chat. So maybe 1 time in 10 it would substitute "teh" for "the." And words with double letters would be replaced by a misspelled single-letter word, again just occasionally. Every hour additional transform rules would kick in - punctuation would either drop or multiply, more creative misspellings would happen. Chat was slowly changing to 1337-spe4k.

It took several hours before anyone suspected anything. They definitely got pwned :)

The worst thing about April Fools Day : being in Australia all these articles come up as Apr 2 in Google Reader. Took me a little too long to twig.

@teppy - that's brilliant.

April Fool's Day was effectively ended when Oracle purchased
Sun and received it as part of the intellectual property deal.
Unlike Scott, nobody wanted to prank Larry, who would fire
them and seven generations of their descendents.

There was some talk in the Open Holiday community about a fork
and having May Fool's Day, but pushback from international
labour unions over the conflict with May Day celebrations
nixed that.

posted from kremvax

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