Pranks are an interesting case in terms of video content: they are a manufactured situation designed to bring about a genuine reaction. The better the prank is pulled off, then hopefully the more genuine the reaction. However, Pranks are also mean-spirited. Many of them involved doing horrible things to people, sometimes complete strangers, sometimes friends, sometimes even family members and loved ones. Here are some of the most well-known YouTube pranksters.
Prank vs. Prank is one of the most successful prank video series. The video series involves a couple, Jessie, the height-hating, snake-hating guy who flips out who regularly engages in a prank war with his girlfriend Jeana, who despises bugs and hot things. Part of the fun of the Prank channel is that Jeana and Jessie are on an equal playing field; both know the other’s weakness and are completely okay with exploiting it. Both Jeana and Jessie have successfully pulled off many pranks on each other, leading to the commenters being on Team Jessie or Team Jeana. In recent years, there are more "complete strangers" pranks versus pranks on each other. Now they are starting a YouTube Red show (exclusively for subscribers) called Prank Academy, where they get other YouTubers to prank their YouTube friends.
Roman Atwood also does prank videos, and he does many strangers on the streets pranks and pranks on his girlfriend and sons. However, some of the pranks are actually not mean-spirited, like one of his most popular videos, putting an entire layer of plastic balls (Like the ones used in ball pits) on the floor of his house. He excels with the stranger and random cop prank, with many of his thumbnails showing cops questioning him for his behavior on the street. Many of his pranks are of quick reaction type, doing something like a fake spraying skunk or pretending to take people’s gas from their cars.
Another prank channel involves Ed Bassmaster, who does exclusively pranks on strangers. However, his thing is to create characters to interact with people with names like Skippy, Teste, and Hacker. Part of the fun is his over the top characters interacting with regular people, seeing how people react to them. Ed used the success of his characters to create his own cable show on CMT called The Ed Bassmaster show.
Prank shows are not without controversy. Sam Pepper, a British vlogger who was well known for his pranks, took pranks too far when he pulled one called “Fake Hand A** Pinch Prank” [censored by me], in which he pinched women’s butts (who Sam Pepper claims now were in on the joke). Many in the YouTube community reacted swiftly and quickly to denounce Sam Pepper for his inappropriate behavior and around the same time he received some sexual assault accusations. Even if, as he now claims, all of his pranks were faked, the perception of actual assault does not sit easily with viewers. He is currently apologizing and trying to make amends, but he is no longer the admired Prankster or YouTuber he was in his glory days. He produces vlogs with his friends
Prank Videos are fun for their genuine reaction to a manufactured situation, but they also can be mean spirited and if not done with the right intentions, can end a person’s career. Prank videos, when done right, will always have their place on YouTube as people won’t hesitate to pull a fast one on complete strangers, their friends or their family.