Practical Joke

Practical Joke – Funny or Bullying?

I recently saw someone re-post a video from Youtube of a lad trying to wash his hair while his friends keep adding shampoo to his head. I am not going to promote the video but if you want to see it search on Youtube for Shampoo prank.

I commented on the video that I did not think it was funny and suggested is was basically bullying the response that came back was it was just a prank and funny.

This got me thinking about have I lost my sense of humour?

Skips Car after one meeting

Has all the political correctness, safeguarding and things like the beat bullying campaign made me stop seeing the funny side of a good practical joke.

I have just received the “Lets Stamp Out Bullying Together” booklet from the Scout Association (free copies are available from Scout Shops)

The booklet seems to state that “Bullying is deliberately hurtful behaviour that may be repeated over a period of time”

it gives some examples

  • Being Called Names
  • Being Teased
  • Having Money, mobile phones or other possessions taken.
  • Being hit pushed, pulled, pinched or kicked
  • Receiving abusive or threatening text messages or emails
  • Being ignored or left out
  • Being attacked or abused because of their religion, gender, sexuality, disability or appearance.

If we go back to our person in the shower you could suggest that he is being teased he is the butt of a practical joke and everyone is laughing at him not with him. I can hear you shouting at the screen “Come on Chris you must have played a few practical jokes in your time” and you would be correct I have been the butt of a few too.

I guess there were two things about this video that got to me.

  1. There was a point towards the end where the young man was obviously getting quite stressed by the incident and rather than when the shampoo bottle ran out them saying “hey mate it was us doing, we really had you didn’t we” allowing everyone to laugh together at the incident the lad is smacked on the back of the head with a shampoo bottle and almost ridiculed for not realising it was a prank.
  2. with the Youtube generation that we are now that practical joke is not something that is remembered by the 3/4 people who were there, but it is live on the internet to be viewed by everyone.

I guess for me a prank has to be something that all those involved in it, including the person being pranked, will laugh at the end. I always think about the parachute jump as being one of the great scout pranks.

When you get a table on it you put a smaller table if you can then you have chair on the floor you then tell the YP that they are going to do a blindfolded parachute jump. They will sit on the chair and two leaders will then lift the chair on to the top table when they are up there the leaders will move into place a crash mat and they will then jump from the table, land on the crash mat and do a commando roll like they have parachuted.

All YP leave and are lead in blindfolded and sat on the chair. two leaders carefully lift the chair and then with lots of talking like “up a bit” “no more your way” “almost there” raise the chair up about a couple of inches so on to a block or wood so they YP’s feet are just off the floor.

The YP is then told they are in position and they should jump.

I think it is funny event the bravest of Scout is reluctant to jump. However when/if they do slip of the chair and wobble and fall over, take off the blindfold and look back to see that they were just not as high as they expected they are part of the joke.

But maybe I am wrong, maybe that is bullying to, let me know your thought in the comments below


  • I guess the key thing in Scouting’s description of bullying is “behaviour that may be repeated over a period of time”.
    If the micky taking etc. is persistent then it can be considered bullying. The people you refer to in the video may have not played any more ‘jokes’ on their victim after realising he wasn’t happy. But if they continued….
    I guess there is a greater awareness of the problem with bullying, especially as there is now the 24/7 aspect of being able to do it online and via technology. Especially as the online stuff can get VERY nasty and can be difficult to track down (but not impossible).
    I think pranks are ok (being both the victim of and instigator of in the past) but the thing is knowing when to stop and when the ‘joke’ is no longer funny.

    Good thought provoking post.


    • I in general agree with the statement that we don’t know if this is a one off prank or a persistent picking on of they young man.

      But should adults really be sharing the post on FB – grey area


  • What’s missing in the world today is common sense, on both sides of the argument. Plus these days everyone feels the need to be offended by something, if anything you are encouraged to be offended. You can make money from it. Whilst I will always stand up for the underdog, and ‘bullying’ should never be tolerated, some people in life need to lighten up and grow up what ever age you are.

    There has to be a balance struck. A bit of teasing or jovial fun doesn’t actually harm anyone, that might come as a surprise to some. But it’s when the joking comes to be continual or takes a darker turn, that it turns to bully. Not one should do this or accept it, but we all have to find a happy medium.

    • I most defiantly agree and it is the role of adults to manage those situations and make sure that the same person is not the butt of every joke.

      I guess it the whole Youtube-ness of it that got me it was funny one when it happened now people who have no clue who that person is are pointing an laughing at them without that person having any route to come back and say well see how you like it.

      I do agree with your original statement and I often have told scouts as they crept up on a sleeping scout leader with a water bomb – “remember what goes around comes around”


  • I totally get where you are coming from Chris, I think there is a fine line between humour and bullying. Then again what about peer pressure, the most effective punishment I found at high school was when the teacher would punish the class collectively, thus encouraging the class to encourage the perpetrators not to act up again. I think that could be classed as a form of bullying or mob mentality.

    Another one is my friend who I work with, makes jokes about me being fat, he is an ex-soldier and a huge focus on healthy living. The pressure he applies to me, in a joking manner I know his intention is not to make me feel bad. Like making me go out running, and want to eat salads is good for me and this slightly humorous pressure makes me make good lifestyle choices that otherwise I wouldn’t make. Which I think is a good thing.

    Now onto my most controversial one, I’m disabled, but I want others to compare me to their standards, I want that motivation people to push me that small amount of my comfort zone so that you just push it that slightly bit farther. Like being afraid of abseiling then your friends “egging” you onto do it. It’s the same principle as bullying but in a positive manner, with a positive outcome.

    Where do you draw the line though? I think would be when the receiver is feeling rather uncomfortable, but I think we need to challenge perceptions like this and talk about them in an abstract sense.

    • Matt

      Thank you for your comment, agree that positive re-inforcement in the form of egging someone on to try something they have not done or over come a fear they might have is a good thing.
      I think as it is about a knowledge and understanding of the person.
      I would hope that your friend would realise if your having a bad or stressful day and adjust the way he acts towards you, this shows an understanding of the situation and the person.
      In my experience people who bully do it for the sense of control it gives them they have power over the person being bullied, it does not matter about the person being bullied feelings.
      Thought out my time in scouting I have known people to have nicknames or be called a a big baby cause they did not want to step off the tower and abseil down.
      The difference is when that person does step off and start to abseil everyone cheers and congratulates the person for doing and the names stop, that to me is not bullying, it is peer pressure but peer pressure for the good of the person.