#2. Keith Moon Lived Inside a Monty Python Episode
Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
I'm pretty sure that, in the future, future-people won't believe that Keith Moon, the former drummer of the Who, ever existed. They'll look at the unbelievable footage of Moon playing "A Quick One, While He's Away" and they'll say No, no, that wasn't a real person. That was a CGI holo-projection created by Walt Pixar, the 20th century video game director/warlock.
As soon as the last person who was alive at the same time as Keith Moon dies, he'll become a crazy legend, like a Santa Claus of destruction, and that's in great part because the man really did behave like a fictional character. His most famous prank is probably the time he put explosives inside his drum kit during a live TV presentation in 1967 -- the subsequent detonation was so loud, the Who's Pete Townshend still can't hear right.
Moon's favorite pastime was annihilating hotel toilets with cherry bombs and sticks of dynamite, but he also had slightly less destructive, considerably more surrealist ways of messing with people. He was good friends with members of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, a real British group so absurd, most people assumed that Monty Python had made them up for a sketch. Moon would go around late 1960s London with fellow drummer "Legs" Larry Smith and Bonzo frontman Vivian Stanshall using speakers to announce snake invasions or tidal waves, requesting that all panicked beachgoers please "stay in their shoes." Moon and Stanshall once spent weeks dressing up in Nazi uniforms, just going into pubs and feigning outrage when denied service.
Most of us outgrew the "impersonating SS officers to get a rise out of people" phase at 14.
But the greatest practical joke from this era (the era when Keith Moon apparently had his own untelevised comedy show) was the "trouser testing" prank. This consisted of three phases. Phase one: A friend of Moon's would go into a department store, sometimes accompanied by a fake wife for added realism, and request the strongest pair of trousers available. Phase two: Moon himself would come in, acting as a complete stranger, and offer to help the buyer test the strength of the piece of clothing he was about to purchase, as one does. Then they'd each grab a leg, pull on the pants until they completely tore in half, and complain about the shoddy fabric in front of the scandalized attendant.
And phase three, the master stroke: When the store employees were sufficiently upset, a third person (by some accounts a one-legged actor) would appear and offer extra money for half a trouser. Presumably at this point they'd all look at the camera with a shrug as an "end of the sketch" trumpet noise played from out of nowhere. What's amazing to me is the amount of restraint this gag required from someone with a personality as chaotic as Keith Moon's: Imagine how much self-control it took for him not to just blow up those pants with dynamite. And he did it all in favor of a punchline that he didn't even deliver. That's devotion to one's craft.
#1. George Clooney Throws a Fake Wedding for Brad Pitt
Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
George Clooney might be a sociopath. If Brad Pitt is Hollywood's smiling bully who thinks he's just being friendly to his victims, George Clooney is the tormentor who knows exactly what he's doing, but doesn't give a shit. No one knows this better than Richard Kind, that big adorable guy from Spin City and Mad About You, who has the misfortune of being Clooney's "close friend," and is thus a frequent victim of his psychological mind games.
Only a total bastard could look at this huggable face and think "I WANT HIM TO SUFFER."
Clooney's pranks against Kind have unfolded over weeks, months, and sometimes even years. There's the kitty litter story, in which Clooney would dutifully go into his friend's bathroom every day and empty the cat poop from the litter, convincing Kind that his mascot was severely constipated. After about a week passed and the cat had been to the vet and was on medication, the joke climaxed with Clooney leaving a turd of his own in the litter and letting Kind find it. Another time, Clooney found a horrible 5-foot painting of a hideous naked woman in the garbage, signed it with his name, and framed it. He then pretended to be going to art classes for six months just so that he could give Kind the painting on his 40th birthday and guilt him into hanging it in his living room. Clooney let his friend suppress a puke every time he wanted to watch TV for five years before he confessed on a talk show.
But, as far as scale goes, Clooney's most massive joke to date didn't have one person for a victim -- it fooled a whole damn Italian town. In 2006, the now traditional rumors that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would hold a secret wedding somewhere in the world pointed at Clooney's villa in Italy as a possible location. That was bullshit, of course: Everyone knows Pitt and Jolie married in a volcano on Mars in 2011. However, rather than just letting the rumors be, Clooney set up high-top tables on his lawn to make it look like a wedding was really happening. Then he sat back and, for the next two weeks, watched journalists swarm around his property in boats and helicopters to try to get a picture of something that wasn't happening.
via China Daily
Getty Images/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
What's the point of having a villa if you can't use it to make people miserable?
Meanwhile, the mayor of the town noticed there was "a lot of movement" at Clooney's place and put police on alert around the area. The entire town was filled with expectation, but in the end, the closest thing they got to a celebrity wedding was when two drag queens named "Brad" and "Angelina" started making out at the lake. And this all happened because George Clooney put some chairs on his lawn.
The best part? Clooney totally said he was going to do this the previous year, only his original plan involved getting "a bunch of kids dressed up to pretend to be getting married" on the lawn. I'm assuming that when he says "kids" he's talking about literal children, because they'd look like adults from the helicopters. Obviously.