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Funny Kid author Matt Stanton’s guide to pranking

Matt Stanton, June 3, 2021 6:30PM Kids News

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Creating a great prank is like creating a great story, with a start, middle, end and a twist, according to author Matt Stanton. media_cameraCreating a great prank is like creating a great story, with a start, middle, end and a twist, according to author Matt Stanton.

just for fun

Reading level: green

Did you know that creating a prank is just like creating a story?

I should know. I create stories AND pranks!

Let me tell you why.

Another way of saying “prank” is to say “practical joke”.

A joke has a beginning, middle and end, and it usually includes a big twist.

The best stories also have beginnings, middles and ends and they can include big twists too.

So a joke is basically a really short story and so is a prank.

Not only that, but every prank has a main character. Your sister. Your best friend. Your school principal (actually, probably not your school principal).

The main character is the person you are pranking!

So how do we create a good prank? We create a good story.

Start with the person you’re pranking – the main character.

Illustration by Funny Kid author Matt Stanton. For Kids News media_cameraMax is the main character in Matt Stanton’s Funny Kid series. Max is looking for the greatest prank of all time in Funny Kid Prank Aliens. Picture: Matt Stanton

Now, choose a location. We’ll call it the setting. This is where your main character is or is going to be soon and it’s where the prank will take place. Think about it. Choose it wisely. You may need to bring some props or you can use things that are already there.

What is your character doing? Are they walking to the fridge? Answering the phone? Going to the bathroom?

And most importantly, when your character does that thing, what are they expecting will happen?

You've got to be joking illo by Matt Stanton 1 media_cameraPutting a “but” or a twist in your practical joke is the key. Picture: Matt Stanton

Here’s the secret to a good prank and a good story. Put a BUT in it!

No, not a bottom. A but with one “t”.

A BUT is another way of saying create a twist. Your character thinks one thing is going to happen, BUT you’re going to make something else happen instead.

It’s exactly the way a good story twists.

Luke Skywalker thinks he’s going to fight Darth Vader, BUT it turns out he’s actually gone to fight his … (I won’t ruin it)!

Your character is walking to the fridge to get out the milk … BUT, you’ve switched full cream milk with your mum’s almond milk and your brother is going to get a big surprise!

Your character is expecting to answer the phone and it’ll be someone boring on the other end … BUT, it’s actually you pretending their results are in from the pimple clinic instead.

Your character is going to the bathroom to use the toilet … BUT you’ve put “OUT OF ORDER” signs on all the dunnies within a 10km radius.

Illustration by Funny Kid author Matt Stanton. For Kids News media_cameraPutting an ‘out of order’ sign on the toilet will get a few laughs. Picture: Matt Stanton

The twist is the prank. It’s the surprise. It’s the thing your main character didn’t see coming, and it’s also the secret to creating a really great story.

So, go create a good prank and write a good story at the same time. And remember, have fun!

Here are some extra pranking dos and don’ts:

Prank your friends
Cover your tracks
Blame your sister

Prank old people
Get caught
Blame your mum

Funny Kid Prank Aliens by Matt Stanton - crop media_cameraFunny Kid Prank Aliens is Matt Stanton’s latest book in the hilarious Funny Kid series.

Matt Stanton is a best-selling children’s author whose latest book, Funny Kid Prank Aliens, is about a boy named Max who is searching for the greatest prank of all time.

HarperCollins Australia is inviting kids to share their funniest real or imaginary prank for the chance to have a character named after them in the next Funny Kid book. Enter HERE. Entries close June 30.


Why pranks can be good for you

No joke! Experts agree laughter is good for us

Why do we pull pranks on April Fools’ Day?


  1. Matt Stanton says creating a prank is just like creating a what?
  2. As well as a beginning, middle and end, a good prank usually needs a what?
  3. Who is the “main character” in a prank?
  4. What sign does Matt suggest putting on the toilet?
  5. Who does Matt suggest you should not prank?


1. Write a Story
Follow Matt’s advice to write a fantastic, funny prank story!

Time:allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
If you won the competition and had a character named after you in the next Funny Kid book, what do you think the story should be about? Write a detailed outline of the story and design an awesome cover for the book.

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links:English, Visual Communication Design

Add the WOW Factor
A good story, or prank, needs a lot of voice, writer’s voice that is. It needs to really connect with the audience.

Did you find yourself smiling at all while reading this article? You know, like maybe at the “bottom” comment haha.

Well, when you connect with the story, when you laugh at it, smile at it, cry or gasp, you are connecting with the voice of the author. And you can create voice too, it’s through the VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation).

In Matt’s article, he uses humor in his vocabulary, lots of questions to keep you thinking and connecting, and a mix of short and long sentences to keep you engaged but still give you all the details.

So after you have finished writing about your epic prank, or short story, go back through and highlight all your VCOP to see how much voice it has.

If there seems to be a lot of gaps, you better up-level your writing and fix it. Remember to read back over your work out loud to really practise the voice in the piece.

Extra Reading in just for fun