It’s a classic story: boy gets good grades in high school, boy gets full-ride scholarship to great engineering school, boy does well in engineering school, boy instead opts for a career of pulling practical jokes on people. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 1,000 times. Here’s Ren:
Hey Josh! I’ve really enjoyed reading your answers to the questions people have sent you. Now I have a question myself: Is there a way to turn a not-so-fabulous passion into a legitimate career?
Sure, it’s possible. It’s a lot more possible now that the Internet makes connecting with like-minded people really easy and fairly cheap. So, where it might’ve been difficult to find a market for your rare passion 10 years ago, it’s a lot more viable these days.
Right now I am a sophomore and the only activity I’m really passionate about is pulling pranks.
Tell me more.
While the resulting hilarity is a plus, I enjoy putting the plan together and executing it, directing people and resources towards a common goal that many people benefit from (a good laugh at a school known for being all work and little play is always appreciated). I also enjoy using creative solutions to random problems that can come up, and some of my best “work” is done on the fly.
Let me quickly interject and point out what may already be obvious to many of you reading this: If you’re good at putting together plans involving multiple players and then making sure your team successfully executes those plans, to the satisfaction of all involved — then you will have no difficulty finding success in your choice of industries if professional pranking does not work out for you (although we’ll discuss the viability of that in a sec). What you just described is known in the professional world as “project management” and is a very important skill. Great project managers are paid very well.
I like having new challenges on each “project”, and while I get bored and distracted easily, I like my “hobby” because every aspect is constantly changing. It’s also fun to plan out scenarios for outcomes to various situations in order to find the best plan of action. Also, mov ies like “21”, “Oceans 11”, “Accepted” and “The Illusionist” really get me excited because they all involve intricate plans and risky situations.
Have you seen “The Prestige” with Christian Bale? If not, try that one — if you liked the twists and turns of “The Illusionist” then you’ll love it.
I was wondering if there were any legitimate career paths that would use this particular interest for other more noble purposes. Right now I am studying engineering at Georgia Tech on full scholarship, and my grades are more than high enough to keep it. I just want to figure out if I can integrate something I love with a way to make a living without working for “Punk’d” or ending up in prison. I know this is an odd request, but any advice is appreciated.
Well, I’m not sure about *noble* purposes, but you’ve already touched on one of the two industries I was going to mention where it might be a career option, and that’s the entertainment world. People dig prank shows, and Punk’d is only the latest and most successful iteration of those shows. Candid Camera started it all back in late 1940s, actually, and people have been eating up those shows ever since.
If you’ve got the stuff to be the next one of those, you’ll have to differentiate your pranks from those of Ashton and Jamie Kennedy and Howie Do It and all the others. Capture them on video, of course, then start a YouTube channel if you haven’t already. Throw your work at the mercy of the masses and see what they think. Get enough fans, and you can attract some Hollywood interest. (I know I’m making it sound super-easy, which it’s not, but the bare-bones plan is pretty simple — the hard work of executing it is all yours).
The other option that I thought of was to start your own side business pulling pranks on people for cash. Seems like this would only be viable in a large metro area, and even then, only if you really bust ass to thoroughly market yourself. Believe it or not, someone has actually written a book on the subject, called Pranks For Profit. I have no idea whether it’s any good or not, but it’s definitely relevant to the topic at hand.
But like I said before, the skills that make you a good prankster are also skills that would make you valuable to any number of organizations: creative problem solving, thinking on the fly, managing a team all the way from the planning stages of a project to successful completion, blah blah blah — that’s all stuff that businesses of any size or ambition need to have.
Hope that helps. Anyone out there have additional advice for Ren? Let us know in the comments below.