You may have noticed that a Craigslist ad posing as a man trying to get rid of a human sized hamster wheel made its rounds on the Gothamist, The Huffington Post and Time today. Although it has been ousted as a hoax, very few know the whole story. The man who placed the genius ad was my friend Ryan Vazquez; pranking our other friend Rich Samis (The Men) by using his telephone number as the contact information. Neither of them could have anticipated the media circus that would surround the prank. Rich has been interviewed for numerous websites and even the New York 1010 Wins radio station. I had a chance to talk to the man behind the ad about the whole debacle.
I have been told that you have pulled a lot of stunts like this one before; they just never got national press. What do you consider your best prank of all time?
Ryan: The best pranks are always the simplest. Just weird enough to be funny and believable enough to be true. My favorite would probably be my first. I posted my friends number on an ad on Craigslist the day before Thanksgiving for 100 Santa Claus suits with various sports team logos embroidered on them being sold from a storage locker in Long Island City. He was getting phone calls all through dinner.
I can't believe there is a market for that.
There is a market for anything if it’s free.
Do you cruise Craigslist often for laughs? What is the strangest thing you have encountered on there?
Not usually. I mainly stick to Craigslist pranks for special occasions or when I'm bored. The funniest stuff is usually in the free section where people are unloading total garbage that they expect other people to want. Like one post for single Ethernet cable and shit. While an Ethernet cable isn't very funny, the time and effort it takes to post a CL ad and field emails for it is pretty hilarious to me.
After making its rounds with the Gothamist, The Huffington Post and Time. It seems that a tipster busted the ads authenticity by sharing a video of… A dude who actually had a human sized hamster wheel. So, while people do have human sized hamster wheels… Do you think that these media outlets sort of chose to suspend their disbelief for a sensational story?
Absolutely. This prank could have been easily debunked with about a five minute Google Image Search and or a reverse look up. These aren't exactly obscure tools unknown to the journalism profession. A gag like these feeds into people's negative perceptions of what Brooklyn is and the story of a guy with a giant hamster wheel is too good to let go. People love to hate read their way through an article like that. You can cover your ass running an unverified story like that as long as you tack on an update a few minutes later. Meanwhile you've already won because you've racked up those page views.
I heard that Rich just got done being broadcasted on 1010 wins about this whole ordeal; it has really spun out of control. Do you approve of the way that he has chosen to embrace the character “Sandra Z. Zzz”
It really has. This started off as a simple joke on a friend and clearly has escalated into something larger than itself. Half of the fun of doing these pranks are his responses. He's got a great deadpan delivery and an ability to improvise on the fly. The fun mostly comes from just watching him riff off the top of his head.
Did he do anything to deserve all this, or did you just do it because you love him?
Ha, I guess just because we're friends and he's famous for his sense of humor. We've been best friends since high school so pranks have been a part of our friendship from the get go. As funny as this one was, he's gotten me several times just as good. One morning I woke up to 30 missed calls and a voicemail box full of people inquiring about clown supplies. It's always in good fun.
Have you ever considered getting into comedy?
I don't know but I don't think I'll ever stop pranking him.