Caution: Practical Joker Ahead by Bruce Walstad
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii July, 2001)
Bruce Walstad just recently retired to become a full-rime consultant after spending the past 15 years as an investigator for the Franklin Park (Illinois) Police Department, specializing in bunko crime, i.e., scams, con games and the like. I don't know anybody who knows more about those subjects than Mr. Walstad, which is why I featured him on my Discovery Channel special last year, Cracking the Con Games. Mr. Walstad has also led a secret life for many years, but at last the dark secret can be told: he is an inveterate practical joker.
Mr. Walstad has collected 76 of his favorite gags in this light-hearted little booklet for the public that's bound to bring a smile to both the mean and the merry. Much of the material, especially in the first section of "Sights and Sounds," will be familiar to magicians, covering gags like watch winders and fire wallets, funken rings and squeakers. But elsewhere you'll surely come across some new ones, and my favorite section was the chapter entitled "Just for Cops." If there's any-thing worse than being pulled over by a wailing cherry-top, it must be having a practical joker policeman as a colleague—how about taping a phony license plate over the real one on your fellow officer's personal car, until his wife gets pulled over by a patrol car! There's plenty more where that came from, and the book also includes a foreword by Penn Jillette. And in order to get even with Mr. Walstad for his lifetime parade of pranks, I can now tell you an even darker, more humiliating secret about him: He's also an amateur magician.