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Happy Birthday Matt Conlon

February 13, 2004

Today is the birthday of my friend and coworker Matt Conlon. Matt is a really wonderful guy in many ways. He is dedicated, hard-working, a great DJ, creative, likes to work on building community and is well known in his community.

He also has an alias he likes to live up to with vigor. Matt's nickname is Jackass. Give Matt a megaphone and you will be very sorry until the batteries die. He takes on an alter-ego that is loud and obnoxious.

So how does one find a way to help this man celebrate his birthday? Why, with a prank of course!

And I am the prank master.

So it falls to me to create a prank that is unusual and inspired. I wanted to find a way to make the day memorable without being destructive or hurtful. I mean, it is his birthday, so I had to be nice at least this once. And he did buy me a shot of fine scotch on my birthday.

I decided to place a personals ad for Matt.

I wanted something humorous and fun. I wanted to pick on him, but I did not want it to be about any personal shortcomings because the idea was not to be cruel. The idea was to be funny. So I came up with this ad:

I need someone to come over to my house and kill the spider in my bathtub.

That's it. No, really. I need you to kill the spider. He's been there for days and I think he's getting bigger. I can't shower with him in the tub. I can't even use the toilet because he growls at me.

In return I will thank you, I will buy you a beer, I will even take you out for chicken gizzards. But first I need you to kill the spider.

This thing is huge, so you better bring a baseball bat.

Oh, and wish me a happy birthday.

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
this is in or around Seattle

I happen to have access to his mail server (I am his mail admin), so I created a new e-mail account, I filled out all of the ad information, published the ad, then rerouted his e-mail back to his inbox and had a blind copy sent to me.

Promoting the ad for maximum success was going to be hard. I did not want Matt to know I placed the ad. I wanted him to keep guessing to who did this to him. I couldn't put word on many of the e-mail lists that I belong to because Matt also belongs to so many of these e-mail lists as well. A note from me would be a dead giveaway.

So I contacted hundreds of people off-list and sent them the ad and the e-mail address so they could send Matt a happy birthday wish through the personals ad.

The responses just flooded in. People took great pleasure in responding with some very creative responses. Some picked on him for not being able to kill the spider. Some picked on him because he was using such an obvious ploy to attract women into his home, others picked on him for being a little girly man.

Matt found the prank to be inspired. He thought it was pure genius and it really made his day. Not every prank works the way you hope. Not every person responds in a happy way. But sometimes you get the right situation with the right prank and the results are really great. I look forward to seeing what I can come up with next time.

If you need a prank, here are a few I have come up with that I feel are very good.

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