We all want to have a little fun from time to time. April Fools’ Day is a perfect occasion for it. It is an international day for jokes, pranks and other fun stuff. The working world is also in on it. Employees often try to get most out of this day. With so much enthusiasm and energy spent on April Fools’ Day, the question arises: What is appropriate and what is inappropriate to do?

Let’s start with the inappropriate jokes and pranks. First, it is inappropriate to do anything that is threatening or endangering in nature. For example, it is inappropriate to joke about emergencies. One employee jokingly remarked to security that they would love to call in a bomb threat just to see how security guards would react. Besides the fact that it is illegal and punishable by law, it would certainly be an inappropriate joke. The same rule applies to employees’ family and friends. It is very disturbing to tell your co-worker that the hospital called that his wife was just involved in a car accident. This is outright immoral to do! Along the same line, it is not acceptable to tell your boss that he has lost a multimillion dollar deal because one of his clients just walked away. It is very distasteful to give him a coronary heart problem just for you to have a laugh. Creating an emergency just to see some adrenaline level rise in people’s body is not acceptable. Thus, it is safe to say that jokes that threaten or endanger businesses or lives should be avoided. They are not funny!

Second, holding up or slowing down a business to have a laugh is also inappropriate. For example, one security guard temporarily cancelled another security guard’s building pass to get into the building I worked at. The guard was upset. He got into his car and drove away. He stayed away for the next fifteen minutes. Basically, the plan backfired, slowing the shift change. At another workplace, people hid important paperwork. The work was temporarily slowed and the workers were annoyed. Holding up or slowing down work is not funny. The problem is not just that the business loses money, but also that the workers get annoyed. Upsetting people is not funny!

What is an appropriate joke? How does it look like? Basically, an appropriate joke invites human weaknesses. It allows human weaknesses to surface innocently. For example, a friend of mine spread rumours that there was a wet T-shirt contest involving both males and females in the cafeteria. Then, he watched how many people suddenly wanted to buy a coffee. He placed male and female mannequins in the corner of the cafeteria with wet T-shirts on and placed a sign above them that said “Gottcha. April Fool!” Now that is funny! Another person placed a deck of Tarot cards on a small table near the water cooler with a sign that said, “On a five minute break”. He told people that a fortune teller was giving out free advice on how to win the jackpot on the lottery. Then, he watched how many people would fall for the joke and hang around the table waiting for the fortuneteller to return from her break. That is also hilarious!

The point is that an appropriate joke or prank would invite people to act out on their weaknesses. It does not force people into fearful situations or situations where they would get agitated or annoyed. An appropriate joke or prank makes people admit to their own weaknesses and allow them to have a laugh at themselves. Next year, think of something appropriately funny! It is good to have a laugh!

M. J. Mandoki