Review: Prank the Monkey by John Hargrave

PTM cover
Prank the Monkey by Sir John Hargrave.
Yes, the "Sir" is for real, but not in the usual way.
What? Huh? Whatever could he mean?
Why, it's in the book!

There's a saying I use to describe people like John Hargrave: he's missing something in his brain. It's the part that normally would make a Daily Show interviewer laugh while asking a pimp how he's affected by new tax laws. It's the part that would have told Tom Green that publicly suckling milk directly from a cow's udder was a bad idea. And if Hargrave had it, it clearly would have prevented him from cornering Bill Gates in a sham interview that somehow culminated in his humping the richest leg in America. And now he's published a book that documents the effects of his brain damage, the poor, sick bastard. But that's fine, since at least it's an entertaining brain damage. For us, anyway. For his wife, I'm not so sure.

Prank the Monkey is a collection of pranks and stunts by John Hargrave, many of which were originally published on his site, ("The World's Only Comedy Site"), with enough new features thrown in to make the book worth buying. Up front, he makes a point defining a prank, as opposed to simple, mindless practical jokes like putting a bucket of water on a door:

A prank, on the other hand, deflates the pompous, rights a wrong, or brings down the powerful (and the bigger the buffoon, the funnier the fall). A practical joke maintains the current power structure. A prank turns it on its head.

A good prank doesn't have to bring down The Man, but it does have to get a good laugh at The Man's expense.

Despite his fairly wide definition of "prank", some stories still don't fall in that category, in my opinion--they'd go more in a "goof" category, where he answers some questions you didn't really know you had. Like, what happens when you answer a Viagra spam? And say, what if you actually bought a few? And come to think of it, what if you took some just before you went to church with your wife and son? Okay, you probably didn't have that last question, but Hargrave did, because he's missing some crucial part of his brain, as I mentioned. And not only does he do those things, but he writes well enough that you could appreciate, er, the pickle he was in when it, er, enhanced his, er, geez don't make me talk about this I'm not the one with the book.

Receipt that probably would've gotten me arrested, but Hargrave makes it part of a book deal
Actual receipt "signed" by Hargrave
and accepted at a restaurant.
Thanks, every petty register tyrant
who ever made me feel like
it mattered worth a damn!

But, prank or not, they're still fun. I've personally always had a pet peeve with the signatures on the backs of credit cards, or more specifically, the fact that nobody ever seems to check them. (Until that one day you get a new credit card and forget to sign it before you use it, and you have that flash of fear like sirens will go off and three beefy security guards will tackle you to the ground before you can complete your pizza purchase with your UNSIGNED CARD.) Hargrave takes it a step further by documenting the reactions--actually, complete lack thereof--on the part of salespeople who accepted signatures on his receipts that were increasingly wrong, and obviously wrong. From "Mariah Carey", to "I Stole This Card", to something that wasn't a signature at all but a stick figure next to a drawing of a flower in some grass. To worse. One finally balked at his signature, and you say "sure, they couldn't have taken that one," but you said that for each of the five steps leading up to that too, so what do you know.

But the goofs are in the minority, there are still plenty of pranks. And they range from "cute" to "nearly life-altering".

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