Pranks, Hoaxes & Jokes: How far is too far?


From Candid Camera in the 50s .. to MTV's Punk'd, entertainers have pranked their way through the decades. Until last week when it all appeared to go horribly wrong when two Australian DJs played a hoax on a nurse at the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton was staying. But where is the Line In the Sand between funny and mean? Today we speak to Mary - Marg Delahunty - Walsh and Gilbert Rozon of Just for Laughs to ask how far is too far?

Pranks, Hoaxes & Jokes: How far is too far? - Candid Camera host

For people of a certain age, gags from the U.S. TV show Candid Camera embody the goofy and amusing prank. But that was then ... and this is now. And many say pranks, hoaxes and jokes have gone from funny to mean-spirited.

Candid Camera has been replaced by MTV's Punk'd. And a certain breed of radio hosts pride themselves on scoring that "gotcha" moment.

There was this conversation from 2008, when Marc-Antoine Audette -- part of a Montreal comedy duo known as the Masked Avengers -- reeled in the U.S. vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin.

Last week, a crank call made by two Australian disc jockeys took a tragic turn. The 2DayFM radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian called the London hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was undergoing treatment for acute morning sickness. They impersonated the Queen and Prince Charles to ask about Kate Middleton's condition. It seemed harmless, if not sophomoric.

On Friday the first nurse they'd spoken with, Jacintha Saldanha, was found dead; apparently a suicide. Now it is important to note that we do not know what actually transpired in her death, and what may have lead to it if it was indeed a suicide. But the blame and finger-pointing. The DJs' radio show has been cancelled. Yesterday they appeared remorseful on the Australian TV show A Current Affair.

Today the DJ's and their company are pledging money to the family of the nurse from the advertising revenue. Here in Canada the host of a Vancouver morning show on JackFM have announced they have decided to stop making prank calls because of what happened in Britain.

Peter Funt has spent 15 years hosting the TV series Candid Camera. He now writes for the website We reached him at his home in Pebble Beach, California.

Pranks, Hoaxes & Jokes: How far is too far? - Panel

Actress and comedian Mary Walsh knows something about pranks. On CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes she plays journalist - slash - Princess Warrior Marg Delahunty, a character who pounces on politicians for surprise interviews. Toronto's mayor Rob Ford, former Ontario premier Mike Harris, Quebec Premier Jean Charest and former prime minister Jean Chrétien and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper all fell prey to her pranks.

And Gilbert Rozon, President and Founder of the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, the biggest comedy festival in the world, has pranked thousands of people in his time.

Mary Walsh was in our St. John's studio and Gilbert Rozon was on the line from Paris.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino, Pacinthe Mattar and Montreal Network Producer, Susan McKenzie.

Other segment from today's show:

Regulating health care in private clinics

Turkey's stray dog legislation has animal lovers enraged

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