My father is probably the biggest practical joker. I remember him telling us when we were kids they put weights in the mailman’s pouch.
My two sisters are also jokesters. It was fun growing up together. We were always seeing who could outdo the other.
There was the time when my older sister had a short boyfriend, so we made a stool so her boyfriend could reach to kiss her. He had a red face, but he took it well. He stood up on the stool to kiss her.
Family reunions are pure craziness. My father and his brothers do crazy skits, and gag gifts get passed around quite frequently. My mother doesn’t pull any practical jokes; she just laughs.
I didn’t do many gags and practical jokes in college, but I would in the dormitories, like covering someone’s soap with lacquer. Just good, clean fun.
When I was 25, I had been on a business trip collecting data in Oklahoma. I had to send some electronic equipment back, so I put a dummy that looked like a body in the trunk instead. The man who opened the trunk was shocked at first, but he got a laugh out of it.
I’ve also had gags played on me. I tend to find humor in anything, and I laugh quite loudly, so a friend gave me a volume control to turn my volume down.
While my husband and I were both engineers at Lockheed in Atlanta, Ga., I started making crazy gag gifts for people on my own time. I was doing an item here and an item there.
If I knew the person, I could come up with items based on what I knew about the person.
Then someone would say, oh so-and-so is having a party, and I would come up with a number of things for the party.
It got to the point I was doing parties for people. I would go to hardware and dime stores and say, “Oh, that would make a great gag.”
I started cataloguing my ideas and found I had hundreds and hundreds, but no time to really design them appropriately.
Then my husband got a very good offer here in San Diego, and I started doing Shenanigans full time.
The ideas behind Shenanigans Unlimited are to have the humorous gift or gifts for any victim and to make people laugh.
We call the receivers of the gifts “victims,” and it’s intended to be humorous. When you have Shenanigans involved, you have a victim. When you pull a prank, you have a victim. And, when I give someone a gift, it’s done tongue-in-cheek. It’s not meant to embarrass them, only to give them a chuckle. The “victims” think it’s great.
To get gags for any victim, I try to come up with things for many occupations and situations.
For example, a fellow named Jack was having a birthday, so I came up with a crossword puzzle where every word in the puzzle had “Jack” in it, like jack-o'-lantern, Jack the Ripper, and so on.
I think, for example, what would be funny to people who are in the hospital? Well, you know how the back of hospital gowns are always open? I have an apron that ties in the front so it covers up the back and says “The End” or “The Big Cover-up” or something like that.
You can be humorous without offending someone.
Sometimes I’ll just see something and be able to twist it into something.
I now have a list of over 1,000 ideas. I really like making people laugh, and I enjoy doing Shenanigans.