News Joke’s on us as April Fools pandemic highlights life’s absurdities

Joke’s on us as April Fools pandemic highlights life’s absurdities

No joking matter: The Thai government planned to fine people making April Fools pranks. Photo: Twitter
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If you’re looking for some April Fool’s pranks to cheer you up during the coronavirus pandemic, then perhaps that’s the biggest joke of all.

As the world mourns and borders close, the self-isolation policies being imposed by governments mean many families are suffering through a cascade of dad jokes that cannot be escaped from or ignored.

Vegemite on the toilet seat … check!

Alcohol sales banned during lockdown … yep, mum panicked at that one!

All sport, schools and work closed for months … gotcha a beauty!

Oh wait, those last ones are true.

The reality is that some of the world’s biggest news stories read like one long April Fool’s Day joke.

For instance, did you hear the one about Australia’s all-powerful Border Force that knows the location of every Indonesian fishing boat in northern waters, but apparently has no role to play when waving returning cruise ship passengers into central Sydney?

One Twitter wag even got a few hearts racing after claiming Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had resigned over the Ruby Princess debacle. April Fool’s! He’s just missing, not gone.

Traditionally April Fool’s pranks have been the specialist domain of the under-12s and FM radio talking heads, with a few advertising men thrown in for good measure.

This year, with the world going to hell in a not-so-funny handbag, the marketing men have taken a backseat in fear of getting their timing wrong and blowing up the last two bob of revenue they have coming in.

One mob that was not scared of frightening the customers was Optus Sport … which – in an era of no televised live sport – hardly has any customers to worry about.

Instead, it offered up marble racing.

Search engine company Google ignored the tradition of setting up a page dedicated to pranking people, saying it wanted to show respect for those fighting the pandemic.

“Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one,” the company said in a statement to staff.

And while social media was full of warnings not to joke about the coronavirus – particularly fake diagnostic positives – the governments of India, Taiwan and Thailand have outlawed April Fool’s pranks altogether, with prison terms for offenders.

Thailand warned on its Twitter account that there would be harsh penalties for anyone who made April Fool’s jokes about having the coronavirus.

It was left to one brave political protestor to offer up his view of the Thai government.

Of course, if you’re determined to keep up the April Fool’s tradition in a time of anxiety and family lockdowns, the New York Post – in a unique act of a bastardry – has offered a handy hints guide that includes “swap out the family photos”, “pretend to be typing forever” and that old laugh-a-minute favourite “flatulence”.

Go to it, kids … unless you’re in Thailand.