Divided Review Project: Prank the Monkey - the ZUG Book of Pranks

Part 4

On Sunday, January 28, I dropped 162 envelopes in the mail. Each envelope contained a single page from Sir John Hargrave's literary masterwork, Prank the Monkey.

Hundreds of volunteers stood by their mailbox, ready to help with this massive project: Reviewing an entire book. A lot of new reviews are in! I'm now going to begin putting the page reviews in order. Some new reviews will have to be tucked in between here as I receive them.

Enjoy! (back to page 1)

Pages Review
25-26 This is terrible, I used to work retail and man, if a guy came in and immediately asked for a $16000 purchase off the bat, I would pee my pants with glee, im sure much like this indian man did. Upon the customer signing NOT AUTHORIZED for the transaction, I would have had possibly the most disappointing story of my life to share. Bravo.
27-28 I instantly recognized these pages as the end of the credit card prank, a Hargrave classic, the first that I read in fact. I was really hoping to see some of his brand new material in these pages, but oh well. Definitely a good read, describes attempting to sign for a $16,800 purchase with "NOT AUTHORIZED" and how this is the first time a store actually checked his signature. Should be old hat to anyone familiar with Zug or Sir John's work, and I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the book. It's a steal at $9.95! I am mondo glad I got to take place in this, when I saw that too many responses had been gathered, and that some review pages had already been posted, I feared that I had missed out. But my joy was incredible when I saw the small envelope from Rob Cockerham.

Big Rob from Michigan

31-32 Dear Rob and Cockeyed fans, Wow! What a page I got. I was worried about getting the table of contents or a section that made no sense without the context of adjoining pages. Not only was I lucky enough to be charged with reviewing a section that stands on its own pretty darn well, I also got one describing a prank against one of my least favorite institutions; Starbucks. Pages 31 and 32 within the “Starbucking the System” prank section boast a handsome inset graphic of a hoax business plan that was (I believe) actually presented to the folks at Starbucks corporate by the ZUG pranksters. Mocking the ubiquity of Starbucks and deriding its hegemonic destruction of the availability of coffee variety, the faux plan hilariously suggests that the only potential way for Starbucks to earn higher profits (short of “injecting coffee into fetuses”) is to create a sort of hierarchy of customers and charge more for an elite, speedier coffee delivery service within Starbucks’ actual stores. Complete with clever writing, splashy pie-charts, and nauseating brand-management speak, this page will make you sick, just like Starbucks’ coffee does. Sure, I’m against the corporate behemoth-ness of Starbucks but, much more importantly, their product is chalky and burnt tasting. I suggest buying your coffee, smooth and delicious, at the local Dominican joint on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Rosita, the shy one on the left of the photo, could give lessons to any barista. - Lon Hughes


35-36 Sometimes just a taste is all you need to know if the cow and the badger are fixin' to bake a cake. That being said, pages 35 and 36 feel like they represent the entirety of the book pretty well. The prank seems to revolve around setting up a coffeeshop within a coffeeshop. I enjoyed the absurdity of the concept as well as the lengths to which the pranksters went to pull it off. However, the book reads more like a good web site one secretly visits during his workday rather than something you would want to go through the trouble of actually buying.

Pages 35 and 36 did make me curious as to the other pranks in the book, and while not written to my liking, it sure beats the bullshit they try to push on pages 83 and 84! (pics to follow)

43-44 Pages 43-44 were hilarious. A prank is being played on several clothing manufacturers, and a shirt that has been worked out in for a week is being sent back due to unpleasant odors. I have to get the book now, as I need to know what happened before and after my pages. The prose flows, and I like this guy's style. Thanks!


47-48 Pages 47 and 48 wrap up a prank involving attempts to return a shirt to various clothing stores. I'm not sure I really "get" the prank to begin with, but there's some pretty good jokes in this part of the writeup. I also enjoyed the helpful tables summarizing Hargrave's retail experiences. If you are reading this book, then you'll probably want to cover these two pages, just so you know how the prank ends.
49-50 I had heard that you weren't sending out pages to everyone who had given you their address, so after I saw the first reviews pop up I concluded that I wasn't one of the blessed winners of this homework assignment. However, I was delighted when I found a wee envelope containing a page of Prank the Monkey! It came to me in the mail! Getting mail is always fun, especially when it doesn't want money from me.

Inside was a folded-up page of the book, and a bitty orange thank you note. Unbeknownst to most, if you use your secret decoder ring on this peice of paper, you get a secret dirty joke.

Page 49 contains a reproduced form letter from L.L. Bean to John Hargrave, and a check for $2.44. Presumably, wacky hijinks ensued in order for John to receive this wacky amount of money. Wacky. I found this page to be somewhat piquant, with a hint of oregano.

Page 50 is the start of a new section of the book titled, "Fight the Power (Company)". Here John expresses his dislike of the power companies, and especially their bills. A copy of what is presumably his bill is included. A final paragraph starts to relate his call to the power company to complain. I can only quake in wonder at what crazed queries John presents to the stuffy CSR. I found this page to be overly rich. Perhaps less olive oil should have been used. After receiving my page, I made color photocopies of the envelope it came in, the page from the book, and the orange thank you note. I then promptly shredded the original documents, to keep them from falling into terrorist hands! I mailed the shredded documents back to Rob, for safekeeping. I was going to send photographs of my experiences with the mystery-page, but I lack a camera. Perhaps Rob should send out cameras to each of his reviewers next time.

Thanks for including me Rob! Thanks for writing a book for me to say stupid things about John! Please feel free to review the separate paragraphs of my review per your whim.


51-52 I laughed.
I cried.
I couldn't put it down.

Arvil Saylor -- Florence, KY

57-58 I was very elated when I received my little packet of ZUG. Page 58 features a full-page photo of the infamous Sir John himself, taken by a guy that looked like the Quaker Oats guy. It is even a color photo!...well, if you happen to be wearing colored 3-D glasses... So the previous page, page 57, picks up in the middle of a prank in the 'Corporations' section and provides some hilarious insight into the photo, although the complete structure of the prank is not contained on the page. I loved the final sentence of the page that described his reaction following this part of the prank: "I felt electric."

I will most likely end up checking this book out to read about the rest of this prank, and end up enjoying everything else! It has a great transcript style that helps to enhance the funny-factor in these pranks.

I've also provided some photos to document this divided review.

~Jeremy Apgar, Bethlehem, PA



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