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The joker in me

September 4th, 2008 · No Comments

I blame my dad for passing on a particular quirky gene onto me – playing jokes on people. I take great pleasure in scheming, hatching and collaborating with other jokers and like Frodo in the Lord of the Rings I am on a quest – to find the perfect joke.

The joke gene lay dormant until I was about eight or so and then it unleashed itself on my poor grandmother who was first to fall victim to my antics.

At first I was a green joker, I had no imagination so fell back on the standard cliché pranks like pretending that I had fallen over and broken my arm or leg. My jokes soon evolved however and I became a little more creative.

The Grandmother Caper

I often used to hang my mammoth grandmother’s bras and underwear around the house, over lamps and televisions and chairs. For some reason I used to find this hysterically funny. Another frequent event involved me stealing one of her slippers and popping it in the freezer for a couple of hours and then placing it neatly back next to the other one. I knew she had put them on when I heard her screams resonate through the walls. In a later prank I dressed up like an adult, went out the back door and knocked on the front door pretending I was a stranger. She has no idea it was me because I looked completely different, my efforts to disguise myself paid off. I was pretending to be some psycho-disturbed person who couldn’t speak properly and she was so shocked when I revealed my true identify that it took her a while to believe it was me!

My favourite time of the year was the Melbourne show. My pranks would hitch up a notch when I would come home with my supply of joke show bags and pour out their contents over my bed whilst hatching my grand plans of comic proportions. Of course the jokes would not be contained to just my grandmother; her friends would often be my targets. In a particularly commando mood one day, I crawled on my belly into the lounge room when my grandmother had her friends over and wriggled my way around the pot plants and tables until I reached my destination – under the couch where I had cleverly planted a whoopee cushion under the seat. I patiently waited like a sniper stalking his target. The plan was executed perfectly when my grandmother’s friend sat on the couch to a resulting idiotic farting noise that sent me into fits of laughter.

The ‘cotton ball on my grandmother’s head’ game was another source of amusement for me. I would sneak up behind my grandmother while she was watching television. Carefully and slowly, I would place a cotton ball on her head one at a time to see how many I could get away with before she would jump out of the chair in such a fright thinking spiders were crawling around in her head. I think my highest score was 9.

Clearly I had no boundaries; I was a rebel on a sure path to destruction and mayhem. No one could stop me now.

I once put a giant rubber black spider on top of my mum’s pillow. I waited patiently in my room until I heard her shrills and shrieks. Mum didn’t think this was funny at all; she scolded me for ‘nearly’ giving her a heart attack. This reaction instead of deterring me inspired me to seek greater challenges – I obviously had talent and was well on way to becoming a great joker. I began to compare myself to Houdini; Houdini was the best magical illusionist, could I be his equivalent in the world of jokes?

The letter

My step sister Eff shared my passion for being a prankster, her talent although not as refined as mine showed great promise. The best pranks were born during the school holiday season when we were bored and looking for ways to amuse ourselves. Eff went out to check the mail on one particularly opportune day and retrieved a letter addressed to her mum from her godchild. She was about to hand it over when evil genius struck.

Eff’s eyes widened with excitement as I explained my plan, I knew that I was maturing as a prankster but this far exceeded my expectations. Eff and I were going to rewrite the letter and reseal it back in the original envelope – a bombshell was going to be dropped in a few hours time…..

With a fresh piece of paper we rewrote the letter copying the same original opening paragraph before we changed it. The letter was in Greek and it was fortunate that Efi’s Greek writing skills were just good enough to pull this off.

Satisfied with the outcome we put the original letter to one side, resealed the envelope with the new letter and left it on the kitchen table along with the other mail – pure genius. Things couldn’t have worked out better; the letter wasn’t opened until my dad came back from work. Eff and I were in the kitchen watching television when Vicki and my dad sat down to have their coffee and to read the mail.   We knew instantly we couldn’t hold a poker face to actually watch this unfold in person so we casually made our way into the lounge room within ear shot of the kitchen.

“Oh, how exciting, a letter from my god child!”

“Well open it,” says my dad.

Vicki starts reading; her enthusiasm is still strong during the first few opening sentences, then the silence….

“Oh dear, Oh dear,” followed by a tck tck of the mouth.

“Well, what is it then?” my dad asks.

Vicki is unable to speak at first but then manages.“Mary has fallen pregnant, and um the father is on drugs and sounds like a real awful person, he doesn’t want her to keep the child. Mary is too scared to tell her parents and she wants to drop out school and come live here in Australia. George, she wants to come and stay with us to have the baby……….. more silence followed by “What are we going to do George?”

Meanwhile, Eff and I trying our best to muffle the sounds of our laughter. We nearly lose it when we hear Vicky say, “the poor girl, she must be so upset she has made quite a few spelling mistakes in her letter, she can’t even write anymore George.”

“Well, we have to help the girl,” my dad says “but how can we do that and not tell her parents?”

Two hours later and still debating about what to do, Eff and I decide its time to let the folks off the hook, fess up and show them the real letter.

They are angry at us, no denying that but ultimately relieved. I find that the prank victim’s relief is a useful emotion because it always overrides the anger in the end and thus I am always forgiven.

The Gameshow

20 years have passed since ‘the letter’ and during this time many jokes have been played on people, but I am particularly fond of one I played on Eff a few years ago.  My partner Julian and I hatched this one, I will let the email below speak for itself…. and yes she did fall for this!

From: Channel Seven [
Sent: Monday, 6 September 2004 2:11 PM
To: Tsaparengas, Efi
Subject: Channel Seven Game Show Selection

Dear Ms Tsaparengas

You have been selected to play on a new exciting Channel Seven game
show filmed in Melbourne Victoria called ‘Greek Girls Hit 30’.
‘Greek Girls Hit 30’ consists of 4 contestants, all of whom have to
press buzzers in order to answer questions about dating after the age
of 30 in the Australian Greek dating world.

If you would like more information on this once in a lifetime
opportunity to appear on an all new gameshow please send an email to with the following:
– What type of man are you looking for (one sentence)
– Evening Telephone number

One of our representatives will then call you within 24 hours of
receiving your email.

The first episode will take place on 14/11/2004, Channel Seven, at
10:30am in three months from now.

Please note that this is a first come, first served basis so please
email us now before all vacancies are taken.

If you have any further questions please contact


Jane Bowral Carter

Manager Scheduling
Channel Seven Selection Group

I let the poor girl think she had been selected for this game show for the entire day; Eff had forwarded the email to me and asked if I had heard about this show. Of course I had heard of the show and I did what all good friends would do, I encouraged her to reply to the email convincing her that the show would be a blast.

As evil as I am, the one rule I have is that I can’t let the prank go on for more than a day so I broke the news later to her that night over the phone.

You know you have executed a joke perfectly by the reaction you get when you tell your victim its gold, it’s priceless and I think that is why I love pranking people so much.

I know what you are all thinking, can I take a joke? The answer to that one is certainly yes but of course you have to impress me as well, and that my friends will be the challenge!

Tags: musings

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