Note: Denny Hatch personally replies to all correspondence.
Readers respond to “Last Prankster Standing,” published June 28,2006, that described the great British graffitist, Banksy.
Another delightful column! May I share with you an office prank that I once pulled off? As it is about direct mail, you may find it of amusement. About 10 years ago I was an Account Executive for the Seattle-based Domain Group. I worked from home in Northern Virginia on accounts generally around Washington and up to New York. I visited Seattle about once a month, but only a few of the more than 150 agency employees knew me except that I was also involved in client recruitment. On April 1, 1999 (clue #1 that this is a hoax) I sent out a lengthy memo explaining how I had met a senior manager with Philip Morris and that after we made a pitch, we had been invited to submit a proposal, and low and behold we had won the agency’s largest-ever client! Billing with PM would alone triple the size of the firm. The Domain group specialized in marketing to the Christian audience. I told the staff that the new product was as yet unnamed, but was code-named: “Holy Smokes”—and it would be developed with the Christian audience as the target. (Clue #2) Finally I revealed that as PM also (at the time) owned Miller Brewing company, we had already been invited to help Miller further penetrate the audience of Christian drinkers! It was all very funny, but at least one employee believed the fake announcement and resigned before she would help “peddle death.” You are right; a lot of people have no sense of humor. That and political correctness are two of the biggest problems facing this nation today. Thanks again for a wonderful column.
You might find this book fascinating: it’s called “Cheap Laffs,” and it’s by Mark Newgarden. It has a history of all the cheap tricks that one could buy by mail or were included free in packages of snacks, etc. - from the Whoopee Cushion to the fly on the nose, it’s almost all there. Lately I’ve seen humor move in a more extreme direction - or should I say XTreme— with Punk’d. An example: Hugh Jackman was Punk’d into believing he’d set someone’s home on fire. The video showed his horror and concern, and I really felt sorry for him! That kind of humor I don’t need - it’s too mean. Give me the clever play on words, the gentle candid camera, and silly physical humor like Peter Sellers’ style any day over deeply embarrassing and scaring others.
Your newsletters are consistently inventive and informative! I write a bi-monthly newsletter for my business, so I know how tough it can be to keep the creativity going. You do!!! I look forward to getting them every time! Thank you!
Great art is like great science or theology, it’s only understood by a gifted very few who have studied much of their lives. Nevertheless, it usually resonates among most of us--unless we’ve biased ourselves. Banksy, as you say, has used pranksterism to elevate his painting to art. But only vulgar art. Which has its place, of course.
In order to keep this e-zine down to manageable size, I do a lot of cutting. What follows is the original opening of the Banksy piece:
“Many years ago at a gallery opening in New York, I ran into a classmate from Andover, Carl Andre, whose minimalist sculptures—collections of blocks, squares, sticks and stones—have been acquired by some of the world’s major museums. Among them: The High (Atlanta), Guggenheim (New York), Musée d’art et d’histoire (Geneva), Tate (London) and Walker (Minnesota).
“I asked Carl if he ever worried that he was putting people on with his art.
“ ‘I worry that I’m putting myself on,’ he shot back. ‘One artist who is unabashedly dedicated to putting people on is the great British graffitist and prankster, Banksy…’
“As someone that has traveled a fair amount, and looked at a lot of ‘art’—ranging from Greek kraters and Michelangelo to Picasso, Warhol and Andre—I get the sense that much of what is being done today is vulgar.
“And frankly, I would rather get a giggle out of a masterful—albeit vulgar—work by Banksy than stand around with a bunch of culture vultures discussing the artistic achievement (NOT!) of a Warhol Campbell’s soup can or an arrangement of Andre boulders.”