Why Is This Fast Food Drive-Thru Prank Hilarious?

McDonald's Drive-Thru | Photo: dickuhne/Flickr/Creative Commons License

If you turned on the Internet in the past few days, chances are you stumbled upon this Fast Food Drive-Thru prank that has, as the kids say, gone viral.

(What is viral, you ask? When I first viewed the video yesterday, it had something like 20,000 hits or so. Not too shabby, and certainly something your mother would be proud of, but nothing that'd necessarily get any TV execs to pay attention. As of me writing this sentence, though? It has over 3.9 million views. That's viral.)

The video features a fella by the name of Rahat, who describes himself as "The Magician Prankster" on his YouTube channel, wearing a pretty low-budget car seat costume as he rolls into a series of fast food drive-thrus. The costume may not look like anything when he first presents it, but the result kind of speaks for itself:

Yes. This video is actually hilarious. Between the various yelps, the worker who keeps on turning back and forth from the car to kitchen to car to kitchen, to the mention of Instagram, it's a perfect collection of hilarity. Which is completely surprising, seeing as drive-thru pranks, in general, are nasty pieces of business. In fact, mostly drive-thru pranks have more in common with straight bullying than anything else. Which got me thinking: Just why is this video funny, while other drive-thru pranks are simply being mean? Maybe it's time for a little Comedy 101.

(And yes, this post is certainly the most "liberal" definition of what it means to blog about food that I have yet utilized.)

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A few years ago, the drive-thru prank that was "in style" was something called "Fire in the Hole." The entire prank consisted of people ordering a large soda, retrieving said soda, and screaming "Fire in the hole!" before throwing the soda back at the worker and speeding off. Cops quickly got wind of this little bit of business, started tracking down offenders and arresting them. Which, good. Those guys and gals were jerks. But most importantly, what they were doing wasn't funny. You see, there's a pretty simple rule comedians have as to who's fair game to joke about and who shall be kept off limits. Simply put, it is: Am I better or worse off than them? You can make a joke at the expense of the king, but leave the pauper alone.

(This gets tricky to some comedians who start off small, quickly rise through the ranks, and end up becoming successful to the point where they can't have many of the 'common man' gripes anymore. For instance, if Jay Leno starts complaining about traffic on the 101, it's certainly tough to not think about the fact that this guy owns 35 cars.)

The above video, though, works because Rahat's not making fun of them. He's making fun of the insane situation that he's created. If an empty chair pulled up to your work, wherever that happens to be, you'd also be freaked out and start acting like the people in the video. The place of their employment, in fact, is simply incidental.

Which is all an admittedly much too long way of saying: If this video has you and your friends thinking of breaking out the video camera and going on a little prank session of your own, think before you do. The line between "being funny" and "making fun" of is a thin one, and one that must be respected. Above all, just don't be a bunch of jerks.

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