I wanted to cover a couple of things this week, both from events that took place last Saturday, April 1st, aka “April Fool’s Day.”
This particular week saw two of my longtime friends turning 80. Writing partner, Stephanie Hilbert, who had a nice event Tuesday of that week at the WAC. (Washington Athletic Club)
And then, on Saturday, my buddy Ozzie turned the big 8-0 with quite the gathering at the Leif Erikson Lodge. Oz had asked me to emcee his party and so I was there, gags in hand, waiting for the opportunity to drop a zinger or two at the birthday boy. Among them:
Ozzie has become like a great, great grandfather to me.
The great thing is by the time you’ve turned 80, you’re learned everything. The trick is in remembering it.
Ozzie’s mom named him Osmund. Legend has it that it was because she had a crush on the famous Norwegian singer, Donnie Osmund.
Not many people know that Ozzie maintained a 4.0 all four years he attended college. Oh, not his grades. His blood alcohol level.
Ozzie wanted to be surrounded by family and close friends and have a grown up kids party. The grown up part would be the alcohol, but the kids’ part would be the games we played, like “Heads and Tails”, “Ring Toss” (for wine and Jagermeister) and we even had a magician.
Everyone had a blast, especially Ozzie. What a great way to spend an April Fool’s Day.
NATIONAL GULLIBLE DAY
April 1st is a big day for yours truly, as it’s the day each year I debut another “National Gullible Day News Broadcast.” With this year’s effort, I’ve now done 8 of them and they all live at nationalgullibleday.org.
This year, like all the others, was an adventure in putting together. There’s the writing, then recruiting friends to get involved–some willing, some used to be, some too busy these days–it’s all part of the process. Then there’s coming up with a theme, doing the video production and fine-tuning it to perfection. Or, something close. Each year, I feel like it’s a step up from the year before and it just feels good.
In the event you never got around to watching it, here you go. It’s a fast 20-minutes but I promise you, the ending will crack you up.
A special thanks to everyone mentioned in the credits and, as always, if you think you’d be up to playing along next year, I’m always looking for fresh fools.
How many of these will I end up doing? I’ll let you know when it’s all over.
And there you have it–Ozzie’s Birthday and National Gullible Day. Two blog topics for the price of one.
I’ve got this quirky little April Fool’s tradition going. Each year, on April 1st, I release a video that honors the holiday, “National Gullible Day.” It’s my probably-too-subtle attempt at an April Fool’s joke that I had planned to do just one year. But I had so much fun, I did it again last year and then, I couldn’t resist doing another for 2018.
It’s not just a quick hit. In fact, the 2018 edition of National Gullible Day clocks in at 13-minutes. If I were to ballpark the hours it took to put together, with video taping, gathering resources, editing, having things go wrong, etc. I easily put 40 hours into the project. And while there were some frustrating moments, its an awesome exercise and lets me prove to myself that I can do it.
I thought I would share a little of the behind-the-scenes of what went into this year’s video.
MY SEGMENTS–All of my contributions were shot downstairs in my office, using a green screen and being a one-man production company. What you saw were actually shot in the THIRD retake. The first time, I recorded all the lines, but then some things changed. People who were supposed to be in it bailed out. Extra guests and ideas were thought up after the first shooting. So, I did a second round of takes. (yes, that means setting everything back up that I had put away because I thought I was done) But this time, the clip-on lavalier microphone had some technical issues, popping, clicks and such. So, I had to shoot some of my scenes a THIRD time. To add more challenges, as I was putting things together, changes took place where I needed to re-do the audio, but I figured a way around that, where I recorded new audio while being off-camera.
THE GUY IN THE WEATHER SCREEN–That’s my former supervisor, Chris Settle. Chris is that go-to guy you can always count on. When you ask, “Can you scratch your butt and pick your nose on camera for me?” and without missing a beat, he asks, “What time?”, that’s a go-to guy. That was actually shot on the roof of the building where I used to work at Destination Marketing.
THE HOROSCOPES–I hope you took the time to read them. I had a blast writing them. That was the result of last year’s weather guy being unable to play again this year. Apparently, some of the other news people at his station demonstrated bad judgement in some of their outside projects, so Brian was unable to join us this year. As I watch our own local TV news deteriorating, I thought I’d take a gentle poke at the industry.
DORI MONSON–I admit, I’m a fan. I actually got Dori to join me in announcing the 17th of May Parade in Ballard a couple of years back. One of my proudest appearances on his radio show was when he put me on the air with seconds to go one day and I blurted out the line, “You know, if God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.” Dori actually was going to help out in last year’s Gullible video, but his schedule just got too busy. So, I approached him earlier this year and he was all for it. But, as you would expect, he’s got so much going on in his day that this didn’t happen the first week. Finally, 5 days before show time, I reminded him and he stepped up to the plate, knocking it out of the park.
THE WALL GUY–Joe Doyle was the crazy guy on camera. That was quintessential Joe. He’s actually a Bothell kid who went to school with my daughter, went down to Hollywood for a while but missed the Northwest. He does stand-up comedy around the area and even had a guest spot on the TV series, Z-Nation. Now, for the background story on the wall between Bothell and Kenmore. That was an idea I proposed to the Bothell Chamber, to help promote the fact that Kenmore is being brought in and it will soon be known as the Bothell Kenmore Chamber of Commerce. My suggested plan was that, on April Fools Day, we’d put out a press release with a video, as if there was really a wall going up between Bothell and Kenmore with a website name. Then, when you visited the website, you found out it was an April Fools gag and the announcement that the two cities were now co-Chamber members. However, there were some people in higher places that felt saying that a wall was being built between the two cities might be taken seriously and it could scare people. As you witnessed, it is the most terrifying piece in the entire production.
THE SEATTLE GULLIBILITY CONFERENCE–That was shot at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard during their recent Heritage Day celebration. I had several folks reluctantly try some lines for me, but they ended up on the cutting room floor. May I also add, the Thank You bouquet they sent over is beautiful. Great job Howie on putting your presidential demeanor to good use.
GARDENING WITH GRETA–Brian, our banned weatherman, was kind enough to coerce his talented and lovely wife to do the gardening bit and the two of them shot that in their kitchen. What a team!
THE DEAD END BIT–Kudos to father/daughter team, Mike Rue and Brittany Wells, for nailing the idea I had of a clown behind a reporter. That took two attempts as it was pouring the first time we planned to shoot. Again, another go-guy, Dale Amundsen, was asked if wouldn’t mind filing his fingernails for me on camera and his response: “How short do you want them?”
THE CLOSING SONG FOR THE CREDITS–This is the miracle piece. I had reached out to a local singer and asked if she would do a silly National Gullible Day song for me. She agreed and was so excited, but said she was working a lot of hours at her regular job and asked if could we do it on Friday. Yes, two days before broadcast. Friday rolled around, I hadn’t heard from her, so I shot her a note on Facebook and she let me know that the day she was supposed to be off, she had to work and she was sorry. Couldn’t do it. So, there I was, with no song and everything else in place. I remember singing along in the car with a Neil Young song and while I’m no Neil Young, I could sound NY-esque. So, I created an album cover for a NEAL Young, found a music bed that I could sing Happy National Gullible Day over and, in the second take, I hit the golden “well, that’s good enough!” But a Neil Young sound-alike should have a harmonica bridge somewhere in the song. I had a gap that was perfect for that, but didn’t have a harmonica. Honest to God, I went to YouTube, searched for ‘playing a harmonica’ and there was a guy playing a harmonica, just basically demonstrating how it worked. I took that, laid it over the top of the music bed and it sounded like it was meant to be that way. That was a goose bump moment.
AND A FINAL MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT–I thought of this as I was wrapping things up. Rather than just the song ending, how about one more little goof before wrapping it up. I asked Fred Bugg from my radio-days-gone-by if he’d lend me a Trump voice and it was back several hours later.
THE FINAL STEP–That happened Saturday night, when I uploaded it to my YouTube Channel, send the link to all the participants to provide to their attorneys, updated the website (www.nationalgullibleday.org), posted it on social media and then, it’s stand back and see what happens. Two days later, its at 134 views, so I am pleased. No more than half of those are me.
If you get inspired and would like to join the party, let me know. Glad to drag you into next year’s edition of National Gullible Day.
This past Tuesday was April 1st, one of my favorite days of the year when I was back in radio.
It’s one thing to kiddingly tell someone that Bruce Jenner’s sex change is complete or innocently ask, “Is that soup on your shirt?” But when you can play a prank at hundreds of thousands of people at one time? Now THAT’S the power of April Fool’s Day in the world of radio.
I’ve always done something on the air that day or it was done to me. AT KQOT, my first professional radio gig, I did a switch one year with a guy where I took his shift and called myself by his name and visa versa. A mild prank, but with lasting consequences. That morning, I got a call from a woman who was thanking me for the night before. It seems my fellow DJ had his way with her and she was following up the next morning. It took me a while to realize what was going on (I thought I was being pranked) she was embarrassed about the incident and then decided to stalk me for the next several years. I mean, like on Superbowl Sunday when I had to work on the air, she brought me a steak dinner and a half-rack of beer. Then, when I took part in a 5K fun run, she followed me the entire race IN HER CAR. She began sending me gifts, calling on the request line all the time. After some intervention by another DJ’s wife, she agreed to leave me alone. Shortly afterwards, she married a guy and then mailed me the wedding ring he gave her, saying it should have been from me. Word has it that one night, he was waiting outside my home with a gun so that he could get that ring back. Fortunately, it was one of those occasional nights I didn’t come home. The DJ’s wife made sure the guy got his ring back, the marriage broke up and he left me alone.
All because of an April Fool’s joke.
Then there was the year I orchestrated a gag on KOMO radio. I had put together a series of reports from the scene of the Seattle April Fool’s Day Parade, describing the ridiculous participants, complete with me being on the phone, the crowd cheering in the background, etc. Larry Nelson and I had broken new ground for that conservatively run radio station.
And management didn’t find it the least bit funny. When the CEO jumps down the throat of the station manager, who lets the Program Director bear the brunt, there was hell to pay. What I remember most were the concerned words of John Behnke, the KOMO big guy, who asked the question, “Do you realize that people in Lynnwood might have heard this and drove all the way down to Seattle for a parade that doesn’t exist?”
Sorry about that, Lynnwood.
I had heard one Seattle DJ back in the 1960s spent the whole morning doing live coverage of Vashon Island breaking off and floating away. When you do something like that and when listeners realize it’s a gag and then call in and play along, (“Yeah, I saw it! It was moving pretty fast!”) that my friends is radio gold.
Then there was the time that Bob Brooks pulled a classic on me when I worked the afternoon shift at 92.5 Classy FM. I had started one of those Soft Rock favorites, turned down the monitor and then started answering phones. While talking to someone, I saw people gathering outside the studio looking in. I told the caller I had to go, turned up the music and for God know how long, a part of the Bill Withers song, “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone” had been made to loop. So when it got to the part where he sang, “And I know, I know, I know, I know, etc”……Bob had made the endless “I knows” go on for like three minutes. To help me realize the gag, he was now looking at me through the broadcast booth window. I had been fooled.
During the KLSY Murdock, Hunter & Alice days, the gag I remember most is the morning of the cell phones. We did a regular show, but I had previously recorded and looped a bunch of different cell phone rings. Anytime we opened our microphones, you’d hear a cell phone randomly ring. Of course, back then, there were fewer ring tones and so most people listening to the radio checked their phone at least once to see if it was theirs. We had compliments on the bit, but also a few angry calls from people who didn’t find it funny. They kept checking their phones over and over until they realized they’d been punk’d they were mad. “You could have caused an accident!”
Of course, there was the year that KLSY had an entry for the Woodinville All Fool’s Day Parade. It was during the O.J. Simpson trial and we talked some Bothell High drill team members to put on judges robes and fake beards, then recruited on the air for a Marcia Clark look-alike. Our entry, “Marcia Clark and the Dancing Ito’s” (for Judge Ito who presided over the case) won best entry. Ironically, the Marcia Clark look-alike took the trophy home and we never saw it again.
There were lots of other gems, but the main point is to have some fun with the day. If you’re known to be a serious person, this is the perfect opportunity to toss something out there with a straight face and let them know you actually have a sense of humor.
Talk about your new dog that’s part Shih Tzu and part poodle. They call it a Shits Poo. (remember the straight face is key)
The Internet is full of gags to pull. This is your day to shine! A new study claims that pulling April Fools’ Day pranks actually reduces stress and causes positive endorphins to be released and could contribute to a longer life.