An epic college prank video showing a group of Harvard University students leading an unsuspecting tour group around Yale’s campus went viral yesterday and with good reason — the video is as hysterical as it is blatantly ridiculous.
We spoke to the video’s tour guide — Harvard junior Sam Clark, a member of student comedy group On Harvard Time — to find out just how the students were able to this pull off.
The idea to do a fake Yale tour sprung from an On Harvard Time writer’s meeting, when the students were planning their annual “Beat Yale” video — known as the “F*ck Yale” video — that comes out every year before The Game, the annual Harvard-Yale football matchup. Previous years’ videos have included “Why Did I Choose Yale?” — a parody of the viral “That’s Why I Chose Yale” admissions video — and a fake “Yale: The Retarded” movie trailer.
“It was really conceived more of as a funny video than a college prank,” Clark said.
To prepare for the trip to New Haven, Clark and the other On Harvard Time members put in a lot of work to perfect their cover story.
They decided to pose as a new, completely student-run tour group that would be filming the tours for “promotional purposes.” To make their group even more believable, one of the Harvard cameramen took on the backstory of a former Yale tour guide who was fired after he led a tour dissing his own college.
The group’s supposedly recent start made it easier for the tour participants to forgive the students for what seemed to be “weird historical slip ups,” Clark said — they probably just thought he was a “sort of surprisingly weird, quirky, funny tour leader.”
The Harvard students devised a skeleton script with seven set locations to be included on their tour of Yale’s campus. On Harvard Time made sure to include real facts at each stop to give some real credibility to their fake tour, Clark said.
The group spent their first day in New Haven practicing the tour, and then took out three tour groups the following day. Although they were working off of a basic script, Clark said that each tour got more daring as the day went on.
One of the most clearly anti-Yale parts of On Harvard Time’s published video — when Clark calls the school “Harvard’s stupider little sister” — came from the group’s final tour. Clark said that was one of his favourite bits from the tours, but couldn’t believe they were able to get away with saying that.
Rather than be annoyed or angry by what seemed in Clark’s eyes to be some fairly obvious misinformation and anti-Yale bias, his tour groups were actually very supportive of the students’ new venture.
“People were, oddly, very complimentary at the end of the tours,” Clark said.
However, not everyone fully bought into the Harvard students’ ruse. After one tour, a man came up to Clark to express his scepticism about some of the information — apparently Clark had said that Yale was three hours away from New York City, when the trip actually only takes about an hour and a half.
The disgruntled costumer then went to complain about the hoax to his wife, who told him to relax and cut the students some slack — after all, they were just starting out.
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