|Review by Joshua Gravel|
Joey Skaggs may not be a household name but he has been a notable figure in the field of pranks as performance art for decades now.
After the mass media either misunderstood or intentionally mis-reported an anti Vietnam war protest piece he created as some strange “love in” during which people were arrested for littering Skaggs decided that the target of his future performance pieces would be the media themselves.
Since the mid seventies Skaggs has been concocting strange products, situations, and characters which he has tricked numerous legitimate news services into reporting as fact and then usually exposes the situation as a hoax shortly after to embarrass them.
His elaborate pranks have included a brothel for dogs, a cockroach based miracle pill, a diet agency which places a bodyguard with you to keep you from eating, and a company that will transplant the scalp of a deceased donor onto the head of a balding man among numerous other hoaxes.
Art Of The Prank is part retrospective documentary but also follows him through the execution of a couple more recent hoaxes. The film effectively combines archival footage with the talking heads of fans and co-conspirators while following him throughout his preparations.
I found Art Of The Prank to be a very interesting documentary but certainly found myself more interested in the archival footage and retrospective aspect of the film. I think it would be more interesting to see an in depth exploration about Skaggs’ career as a prankster and the effects it had on those whom he tricked. But overall the film is very interesting and enjoyable, especially for fans of performance art and the prank counterculture movement.