If you found yourself shaking your head in disbelief while reading CPH POST on Saturday morning that Donald Trump had picked eccentric golfer/booze hound John Daly to be Denmark’s next US ambassador, you can rest easy for it was but an April Fools’ gag.
Trying to pull one over your neighbour on April 1 has been a tradition for centuries in Europe, going back to the early 1600s, while the Danish media have been trying to dupe their readers since the early 1900s.
One of the first was a Copenhagen newspaper trying to convince its readership that the sun had ‘slept in’ and was nine minutes late rising on the infamous day in 1914. These days though, people are less gullible (or more suspicious) and an attempt like the one above would have been sniffed out quickly.
Coming up with a solid April fools’ story is more difficult than one may think. The story needs to be eye-catching, clever and concern a topic that is of interest, but not so outrageous as to raise suspicion. Humour is also a useful ingredient. It’s a tightrope.
The art of bullshit (as is the devil they say) is in the details. And having legitimate details in the story that people can recognise adds to the story’s credibility.
It wasn’t a great year for April 1 stories in Denmark this year to be honest, highlighted by some pretty dull efforts from some of its major outlets – Politiken newspaper said it had corrected a spelling error and would in future be named Politikken (not overly exciting).
Still, there were some decent attempts made, and here’s a look at some of the better attempts made by the Danish media.
Copenhagen Municipality revealed that city swimming pools and Amager beach would be reserved for nudists on Fridays, while Ekstra Bladet unveiled plans for unemployed Uber drivers to begin delivering post instead.
BT had two stories: the first being Danish footballers being forced to take 12 weeks of paternity leave, while the other involved CPH Zoo removing all its fences in its enclosures.
Midwest Jutland Police tried to convince its readers it had launched a new initiative involving dogs that could sniff out drink drivers and alert their handlers to which drink people had consumed via barks. Experimentarium wrote that thieves had made off with copper worth 400,000 kroner from its new building.
Jysk Sengtøj wrote that founder Lars Larsen would read bedtime stories to shoppers, while Netto said it would open a silent-Netto that was off-limits for children. The police also had a story about using segways as a mode of transportation for police officers.
Jobindex takes the cake
However, the best (at least in terms of being amusing) April Fools effort was concocted in English by the job search outlet Jobindex.dk.
As was the case with CPH POST, Jobindex also focused on the vacant US ambassadorial position in a job posting made out to look like Trump wrote it himself.
Aside from commending Denmark for ‘being great’, the job posting called for the prospective ambassador to: “promote good The Apprentice rerun ratings well beyond Europe’s borders, but not as far as Mexico” and “unite Denmark and the US in the epic battle against Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin”.
The best candidate would be a “very, very, very amazing man, a great, great developer” who “has a view on women that predates four score and seven years”, “has a great take on nasty people and no time for political correctness”, and who has “really big hands”.
But, perhaps the biggest story of the day was that a number of Danish media –including DR Nyheder, TV2 and Kristeligt Dagblad – chose not to run an April Fools story due to the prevalence of fake news being associated with media these days. A number of Swedish and Norwegian media reportedly did the same.