YouTube trends expert Kevin Allocca, who keeps track of what’s clicking on YouTube over at 4 at 4AM posts, chatted with Yahoo News today, about how the ever-growing and evolving online video community has transformed April Fools’ Day.
“I’m a big comedy fan. April Fools’ Day is especially nice in the tech world where people get to do these fun things,” Allocca said. “YouTube has become a purveyor and piece of pop culture. It’s fun to watch how it plays out and see people react.”
To help mark the occasion, YouTube has compiled a list of its Top 10 Prankster channels (list is at the bottom of story) and provided Yahoo with a list of the top-viewed April Fools' videos from those channels:
The 5 most-viewed new videos from the top 1o prankster channels:
From March 18—April 1, 2013. Video views are accurate as of April 1, 2013, 10 a.m. PT
1) “Imaginary Friend Photo Prank” from Magic of Rahat (2,802,475 views)
2) “Little Buzz Prank” from Roman Atwood (1,695,134 views)
3) “St. Patrick’s Day” from Prank vs. Prank (1,710,490 views)
4) “Selling Cocaine in the Hood Prank” from VitalyzdTv (992,528 views)
5) “Wet Girl, Dry Girl” from Just for Laughs Gags (492,649 views)
As this video explains, experts are not exactly sure where April Fools’ Day began. Was it a result of a new French calendar, a long-standing Roman tradition, or something else entirely?
What we do know is that in America, April Fools' has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years, thanks to the Internet and Web video.
“Prank videos have been a part of video culture for years, predating YouTube,” Allocca said. “And what we’re seeing now is both companies making the videos and thousands of people doing it themselves.”
He added, “It’s incredible how organized these things are. It’s very cool in the way that they’ve become part performance art, part prank.”
Still, as prank videos have become more sophisticated, it raises the question of when is something a prank or simply a lie?
While it’s true that even professional media outlets have been running fake news stories on April Fools' Day for decades, the advent of social media has given these pranks a never-before-seen ability to directly influence the culture.
And what about the timing of the prank videos? Are you cheating if you post your prank video a few days in advance of April Fools' in order to get more clicks and buzz? After all, the tradition in England is to only prank someone before noon. People trying to pull stunts later in the day ar,e themselves, referred to as April fools.
“I think it’s OK that people put them up the day before,” Allocca said. “Because a lot of this stuff gets viewed in different places and at different times, it’s more of an opportunity, a seasonal thing at this point.”
He added, “It’s really taking the whole "Candid Camera" model and exporting it on a global level."
YouTube's top 10 prankster channels by subscribers:
Video views are accurate as of April 1, 2013, 10 a.m. PT.