There are few annual observances as distinctly non-amusing as April Fools’ Day, a dreadful 24-hour period in which it is somehow acceptable to betray the trust of friends, relatives, and coworkers, all supposedly in the name of comedy. But fear not. John Oliver of Last Week Tonight shares a healthy contempt for April Fools’ Day and thoroughly debunked the tradition in a 2015 web-exclusive video that should still be compulsory viewing for every would-be office prankster in the world. It seems that April Fools’ offended Oliver most as a professional comedian. “April Fools’ Day is to comedy,” the host explained, “what St. Patrick’s Day is to Irish culture. That is to say, it is a mockery of the very concept that usually ends with a fistfight.”
So who actually enjoys pulling pranks on April 1? Sociopaths, said Oliver. He proved this by providing what sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation for the holiday to his viewers, then yanking the carpet out from under them. “I want you to sit in that terrible feeling for a moment,” he said. “You may be laughing on the outside, but on the inside, admit it, you were sad.” That, the comedian explained, is what’s so awful about April Fools’ Day. It’s a holiday built on lies and hurt feelings. To combat this, Oliver made his audience (and, presumably, those watching on the internet) take a “No Prank Pledge” in which they promised, again and again, not to be dicks. A year later, it is time to renew that pledge.