New York Press
April 1, 2002


By Jim Knipfel

Hook, Line and Sinker



Ah, April Fool's Day-a day set aside not only for the cruel workplace prank, but also for the annual April Fool's Day Parade. Celebrating its 17th year today, the parade may not have the history of, say, the St. Patrick's Day Parade or yesterday's Easter Parade, but it's getting there, in its own way. Since 1986, this annual march of floats and fools down 5th Ave. from 59th St. to Washington Square Park has lobbed volleys of satiric barbs at the pomposity of the stuffy establishment, celebrating our innate human goofiness.

By the time you read this, of course, it'll be all over with for another year-and if you heard nothing about it, or did and just didn't go, well, consider yourself lucky. Those people who did go-especially those reporters and tv crews who thought they'd get a quick and easy human interest story out of it-went home empty-handed and red-faced. Because you see, unless you count the sidewalks along 5th, there is no April Fool's Day Parade.

For 17 years now, Joey Skaggs-undisputed King of the Media Pranksters- has been sending out press releases announcing the parade to every news outlet in the city. And every year, without fail, a goodly number of them fall for it. Most of them more than once. The Times, the Post, Newsday, Time Out, CNN (oh, but CNN was pissed!)-hell, this year he even hornswoggled New York Press (see today's listings). And I say God bless him for it! God bless Joey Skaggs!

The really funny thing is, it's hard to imagine why anybody would fall for it anymore. Not only because he's been successfully pulling the same damn prank for nearly two decades now, but because even a cursory glance over his press release-you'd think-would make at least a few people suspicious. There's just something a little hinky about it.

WARNING: This year's parade will feature many terrorist impostors. In light of challenging world events, a caution is hereby issued to all participants and viewers. Security will be especially tight and the parade's advance down Fifth Avenue will be much slower than usual. In addition, land mines placed along the parade route will add to the excitement and suspense. To enhance the mood, the parade will be videotaped by Fox TV for a new reality-based television series called "Surviving Reality."

(I'll guess we'll find out later if CNN had their cameras rolling in the hopes of seeing someone get blown up.)

The rest of the press release itself is a gem of straightfaced parody, with its descriptions of the "Atlanta Airport Security Float," the "US Intelligence Float," marchers dressed like Osama bin Laden (driving a cab), President Bush (tossing pretzels to the crowd) and Lizzie Grubman (trying to back over spectators).

The things Skaggs describes in his release are scandalous, blasphemous, insensitive, politically incorrect and, in some instances, just plain mean. It's also exactly the kind of thing this city could use at least once a year. It's a pity he doesn't actually stage it.

©2002 All rights reserved.

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© 2002 Joey Skaggs