In honour of April Fool’s Day, this week’s topic focuses on our favourite fictional jokesters, pranksters and funny characters. This may seem a bit strange, but I’m not always a fan of these kinds of characters because it is so highly dependent on whether you share the same sense of humour as the characters. There have been several books I’ve read where there is a character who is obviously intended to be funny, but I just find them irritating. Greg and Earl from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl are the perfect example. It was clear that they were supposed to be funny, but I did not like their immature kind of humour at all. However, when the humour works, it can really add a lot to the story! I don’t think any of the characters I picked are particularly surprising or groundbreaking, but they are all great pranksters.
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) The Weasley Twins (and Peeves) from The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
This series was the perfect example of pranks and jokes that really work in the story. I’m sure the Weasley twins would be pretty frustrating to actually live with, but their jokes are generally harmless and actually quite funny! Of course, the highlight of their pranking occurred in Order of the Phoenix, where they purposely used their best tricks to torment the horrible Dolores Umbridge. They were so devoted to their humour that they left school, and opened their own joke shop to keep the legacy alive. I think Peeves was another great prankster and it was unfortunate that he was excluded from the movies. As a poltergeist, his role was to cause general mischief and wreak havoc on the students. His role throughout the series, although small, was definitely some excellent comic relief.
These were two of my favourite books when I was first starting to read, and mischievous Cat is still one of my favourite fictional pranksters. The Cat visits two children who are stuck indoors during bad weather, and entertains them with a bunch of silly games and tricks. I think the most memorable is unleashing Thing One and Thing Two who run rampant through the house. In the second book, the Cat comes back while the children are stuck home during a snowy day and somehow manages to leave a pink spot in the bathtub, which he and the children must try to remove. These books were both so much fun to read and absolutely hilarious!
3) Tom Sawyer from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
This one is a classic, probably best known for one specific prank. In this book, Tom is asked to help “whitewash” (paint) a fence. He is not interested in working, and tricks his friends into doing the job for him by convincing them that it is a lot of fun. This is definitely Tom’s most famous prank, In another very famous scene, he manages to trick the entire town into believing that he has died, while he was actually off playing pirates with Huck. The boys did not like the way they were being treated by adults, and decided to run off to play pirates instead. As soon as they realized people were worried about them, they decided to keep up the deception because they like hearing how much everyone missed them and eventually show up at their own funeral. Tom Sawyer is definitely one of the most famous fictional pranksters.
4) Matilda Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl
Matilda is another very famous prankster, whose jokes were often part of her attempts to teach the cruel adults around her a lesson. Matilda mostly plays pranks on her own family, including supergluing her father’s hat to his head, switching his hair products for bleach, and hiding a parrot in the chimney to make her family think the house is haunted. When she starts going to school, Matilda decides to use her brilliant mind, including special powers, to protect her teacher, Miss Honey, who happens to be the neice of the horrible, abusive headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Most impressively, Matilda also uses her telekinetic powers to frighten Miss Trunchbull and intimidate her into leaving the school and especially handing over her neice’s rightful home and fortune. I was absolutely obsessed with this movie when I was younger, but did not read the book until much later.
5) Minnie Jackson from The Help by Kathryn Stockett
There is one very specific incident that puts Minnie on this list, but unfortunately I do not want to reveal it because it would ruin the scene for those who haven’t read it yet. Those who have read the book will know exactly which incident I mean, and those who haven’t yet should definitely give the book a try. I would not consider Minnie a prankster in the same sense as the other characters on this list. Instead of pranking people just for fun, her behaviour is an attempt to get back at a person who has treated her very badly. She viewed her act as justified for the horrible treatment she received, and although she definitely got some enjoyment out of it the same way as most pranksters do, Minnie is not necessarily a joker in general. Aside from Minnie, there are a few other events in the book that could be interpreted as pranks, or as protests against injustice. In any case, this memorable incident alone was enough to put Minnie on the list.