The 5 best April Fool’s jokes ever


The last laugh

In 1983 Joseph Boskin, a history professor at Boston University, was interviewed by a journalist about the history of April Fool’s Day. Boskin claimed that the celebration dated back to the days of the Roman Empire, when a jester named Kugel was allowed to be emperor for a day. Kugel decreed that only the absurd would be allowed in the kingdom on that day – and so the tradition was born. The story appeared in newspapers throughout the country – but Boskin had made the whole thing up. Kugel is in fact a Jewish casserole!

On the up

During a Radio 2 interview on 1 April 1976, respected British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that an extraordinary astronomical event was about to occur – at 9.47am the planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter and this rare alignment would create a tidal pull that would make people weigh less. Moore told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the precise moment the alignment occurred they would experience a strange floating sensation. At 9.47am Moore declared, “Jump now!” Within minutes the switchboard of the BBC was flooded with callers claiming to have floated, including one angry caller who claimed to have hit his head on the ceiling and demanded compensation!

Hats off to them

Soldier magazine announced in 1980 that the bearskin helmets worn by the Irish Guards while on duty had to be regularly trimmed. It was claimed that the skins retained a hormone that meant in spring – after hibernation – the skins would start to sprout new hair. The story was accompanied by a picture of Guardsmen in an army barbershop having their hair trimmed. The London Daily Express picked up on this, and ran with it as a straight story.

A one-way system

In 1991 the Times newspaper announced that the Department of Transport had decided to ease the traffic congestion of the M25 by making all the traffic travel in the same direction on both carriageways – so on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the traffic would move in a clockwise direction and Tuesdays and Thursdays anti-clockwise. The system wouldn’t operate at weekends. There were huge protests from many quarters, including a spokesman for Labour Transport who warned, “Many drivers already have trouble telling their left from their right,” and one protestor from Swanley who pointed out, “villagers use the motorway to make shopping trips to Orpington. On some days this will be a journey of two miles and on others a journey of 117 miles.”

The digital age

The BBC’s overseas service announced in 1980 that Big Ben was going digital with the hands of the clock being given away to the first four callers. Apart from the people who called in hoping to win the hands, most listeners were shocked and angry – none seemed to find the funny side and the joke fell very, very flat. A clear case of bad timing…

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