A practical joke is a humorous prank played on a victim (you), designed to be funny to an audience (the hustling trickster and everyone around you). Your appreciation of the joke is not required and is immaterial to the joke’s success. The more public embarrassment, discomfort, or indignity you are exposed to; the more enjoyable it is to the instigator. The experience is usually shocking (sometimes literally) and always surprising. At the very least, the subsequent laughter by the audience over your ridicule is a test of your self-control.
Infrequently, you are faced with an opponent who experimented with practical jokes as a kid and managed to survive to adulthood (probably successfully out-ran his victims). If you dislike being made on the receiving end of a joke or teased in any way, being the butt of your opponent’s tricks is painful to your sense of self and dignity.
If he is a life-long trickster, his selection of devices and setups can be extensive. If he is a dilettante, his prop department is smaller. The types of jokes depend on the tools that were packed for the competition. Unless he carries a backpack, this is limited to a selection of a half dozen or so gags.
Each prank was pre-tested, often on co-workers who are guinea pigs for new tricks. The ones he uses are selected to prevent you from developing focus. In a pool hall, the common tricks are the off-weighted crazy cue balls and 8 balls that wobble as they go down the table. Hundreds of practical jokes are available in catalogs and on the web.
Here are just a few:
- Rubber snake or spider.
- Fake poop, vomit.
- Fake wounds, blood.
- Bald head wig.
- Whoopee cushion.
- Hand buzzer.
- Fart spray.
- Breaking glass noisemaker.
- Remote control rat.
- Sweat spray.
- Fake spilled drinks.
Your opponent’s intent could be as simple as the misplaced desire to be funny or the malicious intention to apply the maximum possible embarrassment. Regardless, there is not much you can do at the moment of infliction. You may have to force yourself not to take violent action.
If you have some pre-warning of his intentions, there are several things you can do. Your response depends on how pro-active you want to get. At the most dramatic end of the action scale, get wildly upset, then collapse to the ground.
As everyone crowds around, you slowly revive. In a gasping effort, say something about a nervous condition or a weak heart. He should be very much afraid of bothering you again. If you are a pretty good actor, he is almost pathetically anxious to let you win.
For a more passive response, try this. Without a word, walk away from the table and leave the general area. Get a drink or cup of coffee and walk far away to meet and greet friends. After about 10-15 minutes, come back and take a seat in the spectator area.
Act as if nothing happened. Do not inquire as to the status of the game and do not even look at the joker. Whether you let yourself be talked into coming back to the competition is a personal preference.