A practical joke taken too far

I am not a fan of practical jokes. They are often cruel rather than amusing and it is not fun when one person is the victim and is being laughed at by others. Sometimes they can be excused because they cause just minor embarrassment but this too is dangerous because what can seem like something minor to the perpetrators can be traumatic for the victim.

Sometimes people go to extraordinary lengths to play such pranks. Take this example from Brazil (it looks like for a Candid Camera-like TV show) where people construct a fake elevator with a secret compartment in order to frighten people with the sudden appearance of what seems like a creepy child ghost.

Naturally, I do not believe in ghosts and would like to think that my immediate reaction would be that the unexpected appearance of a child in an enclosed place had to have a rational explanation. But I am pretty sure that I too would be pretty startled initially by something so unexpected. One can only imagine how terrified would be the reaction of those who think that ghosts, zombies, and the like are real.


  1. says

    Since it’s impossible to use our visual apparatus to “see” something that doesn’t exist (right? Photons have to be hitting and being absorbed and re-emitted from something for them to get patterned into a shape we’d recognize, unless it was a neurological something or other being interpreted as vision…) if I see something I’m going to assume It’s real -- because it usually is -- or I am asleep and dreaming, or suffering a stroke, or some real- world phenomenon. In this case I’d have immediately tried to cast a shadow through a hypothetical projector-beam.

    Hume didn’t go so far as to say explicitly that a practical joke is always a better explanation for an apparently supernatural experience than a miracle, but he pretty much did.

  2. dano says

    Great video. I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile. I would have loved to be in their shoes to see how I would have reacted to this prank. My guess being it was in an elavator I would have yelled out a foul word in disbelief.

  3. ibbica says

    Yeah I don’t get the appeal of this one. The one with the floor appearing to give way I did find funny (ad for a new TV screen) -- the shock only lasted a split second, and was clearly (to the people in the elevator) an illusion. This one’s just pointlessly cruel.

    But hey, I also don’t find a lot of the things in shows like “America’s Funniest Home Videos” all that “funny”, either, so my opinion is obviously in the minority (…at least among Neilson families).

  4. davidhart says

    How do they do that? Is the girl zipping in and out of the chamber really nimbly, or is there some sort of cunning projection system going on?

    Either way, bit of a dick move. I’m kind of creeped out by screaming children at the best of times, so I think this would be horrible.

  5. says

    This kind of joke can go horribly wrong. If the girl is physically present, what if the mark freaked out and hurt her? Hint: practical jokes can be life-threatening in concealed-carry states.

  6. Mano Singham says

    It is not a real elevator in that it does not go up or down and the indicator of floors is bogus. The girl slips in and out through a small side panel.

  7. richardrobinson says

    This prank is just cruel. I’m rather surprised no one lashed out at the child or had a heart attack.

    When I saw the mirrored walls in the elevator I immediately thought of a somewhat safer and less cruel prank. Have an actor walk into the elevator with the mark. When the lights go out, have the actor slip out through the hatch. Then if you want to be a little creepier, and this is where the mirrored walls come in, have an identical but mirrored room on the other side of a piece of glass, and have the actor stand in that room, maybe in place of where the marks’ reflection ought to be.

  8. Doug Little says

    My take on it is that if you do believe in this nonsense then why would you be surprised when you suddenly saw some visual evidence that confirmed those beliefs, you should be ecstatic about it. I would be standing there trying to figure out how I had been pranked.

  9. smrnda says

    Just wanted to add, for people with severe mental health issues like schizophrenia, something like this could be a trigger for all kinds of bad things.

  10. Doug Little says

    Well that would be what follows if they indeed believe that ghosts are going to kill them. Kinda like, Yay a ghost I always knew they existed… aw crap it’s come to kill me. That’s one large rollercoaster of crazy right there.

  11. danicali says

    I know a family who regularly play practical jokes on others and think its hilarious, they also frequently insult others. I dont find it funny, i find it bullish and in spite of their money, very bad breeding. i swear if they’re rotten grandson plays one more joke on me or insults me or my own son one more time i will throttle that little s**t -- cannot STAND people like this think they were dropped on their heads as babies or are too cowardly to be outright bullies so they resort to ‘jokes’

  12. Owlmirror says

    The video currently in the OP doesn’t work, but it’s easy enough to search youtube for.


    The description text says: ‘This prank was showed on Brazilian TV Show “Silvio Santos” ‘

    The Portuguese for the prank is “Menina Fantasma no Elevador”.

    I’d like to think that I would have the presence of mind to pull out my phone and use it as a flashlight. But I strongly suspect that there’s an editorial decision made in composing these kinds of videos (similarly with magician’s trick videos of a random population of people): those who have the presence of mind to ruin the prank or manage to make the trick not work are simply not shown.

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