Prank the Monkey: The ZUG Book of Pranks

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Each month, over 1.5 million people tune into Sir John Hargrave’s comedy Web site, ZUG (, which chronicles his cleverly crafted pranks on such high-profile targets as Michael Jackson, Bill Gates, and the entire U.S. Senate. The success of his Web site recently caught the attention of Citadel Press, which will be releasing his first book, “Prank the Monkey,” in traditional bookstores on February 6, 2007.

Born on April Fool’s Day, Sir John secretly began his Web site on a company computer in 1995, making the world’s oldest comedy site. Co-workers loved reading about his hilarious, real-life stories: subsisting on a diet of Olestra-laden potato chips for a solid week, or trying to kiss Microsoft CEO Bill Gates at a technology industry party.

That kind of establishment-tweaking stunt became Sir John’s specialty. But it was a 2001 piece called The Credit Card Prank that turned the Internet humorist into an Internet celebrity. Protesting the lack of security on credit card transactions, the prankster forged wacky signatures on his credit card receipts ranging from “Mariah Carey” to “Zeus.” Merchants didn’t notice, but bloggers did: hits to Hargrave’s site skyrocketed overnight.

In his new book, PRANK THE MONKEY, Sir John goes after such high-profile targets as Wal-Mart, Starbucks, e-mail spammers, Madonna, and even the British Royal Family, skewering each target with a high-stakes, cleverly-orchestrated prank. He challenges the IRS by filling out his tax return in Roman numerals; he tricks Elizabeth Hurley into signing a will that bequeaths all her assets to Hargrave’s estate.

Just as funny as the pranks themselves are the responses of his targets, showing there are some situations that corporate PR departments and publicity agents aren’t prepared to handle. Wal-Mart is unable to explain why they choose not to carry certain books (including PRANK THE MONKEY); an e-mail spammer is hard-pressed to defend himself when Sir John wakes him at 3:00 a.m., reading his own e-mail back to him.

Not everyone is amused, however. The prankster is arrested after one of his stunts backfires, a prank on a prominent drugstore chain. There are numerous clashes with the law, and a surprising cease-and-desist letter from the attorney of Ashton Kutcher, host of MTV’s practical joke show “Punk’d.”

Despite its bad-boy stylings, PRANK THE MONKEY is a wickedly funny book, proving that one man armed with nothing but a cell phone and a computer can take on the world’s most powerful institutions. And in the process, he just might become an Internet institution himself.

Sir John Hargrave, the "King of Dot-Comedy," is the editor-in-chief of ZUG (, the world’s oldest humor Web site. His comedy work has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, the Boston Globe, and BusinessWeek. He has made appearances on Comedy Central, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, MSNBC, TechTV, and the BBC. He is a frequent speaker at technology conferences and wacky morning radio shows across the nation. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons, Isaac and Rocket.

Sir John Hargrave
Citadel Press, an imprint of Kensington Publishing
February 2007/Trade Paperback/Original
$9.95 ($13.95 Canada)
Author's Hometown: Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Author's Current Residence: Boston, MA

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