The Prank Review, with Juli Weiner: Prangstgrüp
by Juli Weiner
Prangstgrüp, active throughout the early and mid-Nads, was the arbitrarily Teutonic prank-committing team out of Columbia University. The members of Prangstgrup have all graduated, and their membership is spread far and very wide. Fortunately, their youthful goings-on have been preserved for posterity both by YouTube and by eponymous stickers that are all over campus, still. Prangstgrüp pranks, for the most part, were confined to a formula: locate where Columbia students acted the most self-serious; recognize that taking college so seriously is inherently comical; and suggest as much, most frequently through the joy of music.
This first video records the best-known Prangstgrüp event. It documents a Grup member that interrupts a large lecture to pose a question about the meaninglessness of higher education in the form of a very earnest and rather catchy musical number. The professor very gamely and graciously stands there laughing, so do not let your increasing worry that he will interrupt ruin your enjoyment of the song.
This next incident revolves around the familiar trope of “ostentatiously loud computer start-up sound.” It is notable, prank-wise, for two reasons: 1. the brief, regular-sized sound that precedes the joke sound is masterful narrative sequencing, in that it subtly re-familiarizes you with this very normal occurrence; 2. that the studiers’ are significantly less tolerant and laid back than the professor whose class was interrupted by a random human speaks to Prangstgrüp’s larger ideological commitment, which is something like: college still counts if you have fun.
And here is the far lesser-seen video of Prangstgrüp’s legendary hijacking of an NYU campus tour. (Rumor has it that this video has been, from time to time, removed from the Internet by the NYU admissions office.) This prank succeeds as both a local and a universal parody. Of course, because it’s NYU, someone would be making a documentary about the admissions process-but also, the stereotypical characters planted on the tour are consistent with every campus tour in history.
A number of their other fine pranks are available here.
Previously: The Prank Review: An Introduction