Comic Prank Jewels Hit the Web

Sexy singer's Susan Boyle moment and "Star Wars" subway invasion bring quirky, surreal humor to the masses.

By Jere Hester
|  Friday, Jul 16, 2010  |  Updated 10:53 AM CDT
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In this publicity image released by FunnyOrDie.com, singer Jewel, left, wears a disguise as she performs at a Los Angeles karaoke bar in a scene from a comedy video posted on FunnyOrDie.com. (AP Photo/FunnyOrDie.com)

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"Tosh.O," it was recently reported, is currently Comedy Central's No. 1 show, beating even "The Daily Show," the network's marquee program.

We're fans of "Tosh.O," which is hosted by comedian Daniel Tosh, and features him riffing on wacky Internet videos (a disproportionate number of which feature scenes of men getting hit where it hurts most).

His humor is broad and tends toward the sarcastic – definitely far more snarky than the show's gentler, spiritual grandfather, "Candid Camera," which got laughs with set up gags.

Both Tosh and the old Allen Funt-hosted show came to mind this week with the debut of a couple prank videos that show there's ample room for quirky, almost performance art-like humor on the Web.

In a video for Funny or Die, Jewel finds her inner Susan Boyle by going undercover at a karaoke bar as an office frau named “Karen.”

The beautiful singer donned a wig, glasses, prosthetic nose and a padded pants suit. When she reluctantly takes the stage after much prodding from actors playing her co-workers, she blows away the crowd, singing her own hits. “Honey, with a voice like that it doesn’t matter how pretty you are. You can be an ugly girl with a voice like that and you’ll get” a lot of sex, one woman told “Karen.”

Meanwhile, the folks at Improve Everywhere – who previously invaded the New York Public Library in “Ghostbuster” outfits and became human statues in Grand Central Terminal during rush hour – released a "Star Wars"-themed video that takes place on an urban Death Star of sorts: the New York City subway system.

An actress dressed as Princess Leia get on the G train and flips open a book called, “Galactic Rebellion for Dummies.” Subsequent stops bring Storm Troopers, and ultimately, Darth Vader, onto the car. Straphangers laugh and take their own pictures and videos as the costumed Leia and Vader re-enact the characters' meeting from the original "Star Wars."

Both videos have clever conceits, provide a few laughs and let the prank victims in on the joke. The shorts are fine examples of using the Web to bring a whimsical touch of the surreal to the masses, whose in-person reactions are a big part of the show.

Not even Tosh could make too much fun of these efforts, which you can check out below:

 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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