April Fools’ jokes are tricky, and not just because it’s way too easy to forget the date and believe Gmail’s about to turn blue for a few minutes. They’re also hard to get right: they need to be believable, but not too believable; absurd, but not totally out of left field. And most importantly, they need to leave your readers feeling in on the joke, rather than cheated and pissed off. We’ve compiled the highlights (or, depending on your viewpoint, lowlights) of today’s pranks from around the Web. From the email of the future to an Aaron Sorkin-esque HR move at a comics giant, here are the headlines that made us smile, cringe, and sometimes both.
Google Introduces Two New Products
First came Gmail Blue, a pitch-perfect bait-and-switch that talked up Google’s innovative, user-friendly culture before introducing the newest change to everyone’s favorite email platform: it’s now an aesthetically pleasing shade of blue. Then Google rolled out Google Nose, complete with the tagline “Smelling Is Believing.” The genius of Google’s prank is that it pokes fun at the company itself, not the customer. “How do we completely redesign and recreate something while keeping it exactly the same?” asks a clean-cut Silicon Valley computer geek, before a coworker calls Blue “better than what nature created.” Nose, meanwhile, spoofs Google’s insane variety of products. After all, if you’ve already developed search, email, social media, and advertising platforms, why shouldn’t smell be next?
Soundcloud Unveils the “Dropometer”
It’s actually not a bad idea: In addition to its listener-generated comments and easily accessible music platform, Soundcloud announced this morning that it’ll be adding a “Dropometer” feature to relevant songs. The cutting-edge technology is designed to leave users mentally and emotionally prepared for the high drama that accompanies the addition of bass to an EDM track. Best of all, the Dropometer isn’t just for dubstep: “Look to the Dropometer to find out when to expect a key crescendo in a 17th-century symphony or the emotional climax in an episode of This American Life,” Soundcloud enthuses. The only downside to this April Fools’ joke is that it’s not real; a Dropometer would certainly come in handy for knowing when to turn down the volume a bit (or whip out some tissues once Ira Glass really gets going).
DC Comics Cans Its Entire Writing Staff
Directly referencing DC’s radical New 52 initiative from 2011, when all existing series were scrapped in favor of a whopping 52 new serials, Comics Beat announced today that the Burbank-based comics giant has done away with its entire writing team. Instead, the editors and co-publisher Dan DiDio will take on superhuman (pun intended) responsibilities, like DiDio’s co-plotting of all 50-plus titles. Unlike other April Fools’ jokes, this one seems to have more bite to it, pointing out worrying trends in the industry. The dig at crowd-pleasing, social-media based feedback is particularly sharp: “Instead of a ‘Minimal Viable Product,’ which has just enough features to see if there’s a customer base, we’re going to be starting out with a ‘Minimum Viable Plot.’…If the reaction is bad, you ‘Pivot’ and change the plot. Eventually, you’ll find something the fans like.”
Hulu Unveils New Shows, Including Itchy and Scratchy and Inspector Spacetime
More on the “wishful thinking” side of things, Hulu’s Tumblr advertised a host of new series (and a made-for-TV movie) this morning. The twist? They’re all fictional shows-within-shows from some of the Internet’s most beloved fan favorites. Community‘s Inspector Spacetime, the cheesy British sci-fi drama about the titular time-traveling detective and clocking in at a whopping 51 seasons, makes an appearance, as does Jenna Maroney’s incomprehensible flop The Rural Juror. Best of all, each promotional blurb links to the original episode that references the fictional show; follow the 30 Rock link to rewatch the finale-ending tearjerker of a montage.
Netflix Subtly Debuts a Few Unorthodox Film Genres
Netflix’s viewing suggestions have always been weirdly specific and questionably accurate — if all I’ve watched for the past six months is 30 Rock, why does it think I want “Critically Acclaimed Visually Striking Violent Movies?” — so the April Fools’ additions to the site’s homepage are genius bits of self-parody that might easily go unnoticed. Do scroll down a bit the next time you sit down to binge-watch Mad Men and enjoy “Movies Featuring an Epic Nicolas Cage Meltdown,” “Reality TV About People With No Concept of Reality,” or “English Movies That Still Need Subtitles.” The suggestions change throughout the day and are different for each user, but everyone deserves to watch “TV Shows Where Defiantly Crossed Arms Mean Business!” at least once.
Vimeo Gives Up All Pretense of Highbrow Content and Becomes a Cat Video Site
“Dae Mellencat,” the feline-loving alter ego of Vimeo president Dae Mellencamp, introduced a new platform to revolutionize the Internet video market: Vimeow, a site exclusively dedicated to cat videos. With features including an actual mouse, Patiently Stalking (formerly known as “following”), and the option to add aloofness or indifference to any cat video, Vimeow recycles a fairly standard criticism of superficial web humor, but executes it perfectly. Mellencat’s pitch: “Think of Vimeow as a small, cramped house with a lot of stuff in it, and a weird smell, and there are already a bunch of cats living there, but you can keep taking in more and more cats, because, well, they each have their own unique personality and, to be totally honest, you’re kind of lonely.”
HBO Watch Finds Out Peter Dinklage Is Leaving Game of Thrones
This would be funny if the prospect of Game of Thrones without its MVP weren’t so terrifying. There were a few obvious clues that HBO Watch was merely trolling — a few typos, the promise of a more “comedic, farcical” Tyrion Lannister, George R.R. Martin’s announcement that he’s taking an indefinite hiatus from writing — but the headline definitely made us freak out, if only for a millisecond. Dinklage’s supposed replacement is Professor Flitwick Warwick Davis, who would bring to the show both an authentic British accent and a rumored $1 million per episode salary. Oh, and he’d also be ditching his own show, Life’s Too Short. Luckily for us viewers, Dinklage is here to stay/charm the pants off of the audience both this season and next (which actually isn’t officially happening yet).
Coachella Goes Extra-Mainstream, Lasts Entire Year
Taking swipes at not just the festival itself but also the entire music industry, Impose Magazine broke the news that Coachella will be expanding from two weekends in April to the entire calendar year, forming a new festival called “Coachella 365” and co-sponsored by Senor Frog’s and Geico. The lineup constitutes Wikipedia’s entire list of “alternative rock artists,” with attendees paying their way with shifts at Senor Frog’s instead of currency. It’s not quite as good as the all-hologram lineup that made the rounds after Tupac’s appearance last year, but the article is filled with expert touches like hilariously believable quotes from Pitchfork and fictional companies like “Splintered Pony Productions.” It’s also not too far from the truth, given the Indio super-event’s two-weekend span and spinoff cruise.