April Foolishness

As should surprise no one, the Internet loves April Fools’ Day. The Internet also hates April Fools’ Day. Although it has apparently been celebrated for centuries, only in recent years have corporate marketing departments gotten into the act with such gusto. As a result, every web posting must be viewed with suspicion on April 1.

Some people are of the opinion that this corporate foolery is played out. Even Google, a perpetual home-run-hitter, had a big strikeout this year. A few hours into the “mic drop” feature, it was pulled from GMail after users complained of problems when they accidentally triggered it. Will this be the end of Google’s April Fools efforts? I’m sure it won’t be, but it may cause them to be more conservative next year. Will that mean it ends up not being funny? Quite possibly.

Not everyone had a bad day, though. The election insurance commercial from Esurance was brilliant. Virginia Commonwealth University had an amusing video about its “Tats, not SATs” policy. But the winner has to be the adult video website Pornhub, which became “Cornhub” for the day.

These examples show what a good corporate April Fools’ Day joke is like. Like Hippocrates, first do no harm. Funny videos or blog posts are good strategy because your users can’t do much more than not get the joke. Anything that involves actual functionality should only be used with extreme caution. Make it safe.

Next, the post should be clearly fake. This is tough to do because you want your joke to have the appearance of being serious while still having that air of self-awareness. Think of it like a Saturday Night Live sketch. Everyone knows it’s over the top and the actors play to that, but as soon as they crack a smile, it loses something. (As an aside, that’s why I’m not a Jimmy Fallon fan.) The point is your want people laughing at your joke, not at people who didn’t get it.

Last, and most importantly, it must be funny. If it’s not funny, stop. Find something else to do. Don’t try to be funny and then be unfunny because it’s painful for everyone. The Verge has a post ranking some of this year’s jokes.

This is what passes as humor

Since I don’t have time to write a real blog post, here’s a recent exchange on Twitter between my friend @orangeshirtguy and myself.  If you get the jokes, I feel sorry for you.

Me: I like using sed commands in IM and then berating people when they have no idea what I’m talking about.

OSG: @FunnelFiasco to them, it’s just a case of he sed, she sed.

Me: Quick. Someone give me a witty rejoinder using the word ‘awk’ RT @orangeshirtguy: to them, it’s just a case of he sed, she sed.

Me: Better late than never? @orangeshirtguy don’t you think that joke was a bit `awk`ward. Perhaps you should `tr`y harder next time?

OSG: A nano second too late. I don’t need to vi for attention, I’m leet to th emacs.

Me: @orangeshirtguy > /dev/null

OSG: @FunnelFiasco: Not just “@osg >/dev/null”. That’s *nix fail. Try “cat @osg > /dev/null”. Have to have the cat, ‘cos OSG’s a cool cat.

Me: @orangeshirtguy not fail. I gave you the ol chmod a+x because I want you to be executed.

OSG: @FunnelFiasco : I gnu you would get mvious.. You must get a grep on yourself…

Me: @orangeshirtguy You don’t need to be such a cranky Gnome. I think it’s time to put this thread on IceWM. Surely you can CDE that point?

OSG: This is more like it. Vim and vi.gore.

OSG: @funnelfiasco Listen to me, mac, OS I’ll have to bash you to illustrator my point, and you’ll be a shell of your former self.

Me: @orangeshirtguy quit trying to stall, man. You’re de Raadt and you know it. Maybe you should go grab your blanket like Linus.

OSG: @funnelfiasco niiiiiice -20! should we kill -9 this thread and GBTW? It could get troff if I spend the rest of the day doing this.

Me: @orangeshirtguy [509 bcotton devo ~ ]$ niiiiiice -20! -bash: niiiiiice: command not found

And then @johnjanitor had to cap it off with: @orangeshirtguy @funnelfiasco please don’t shutdown now, it is not the 2nd tuesday yet. continue or cancel?