Joke’s on you, bro
Ahead of his maiden visit to India, internet celebrity Ben Phillips shares how he made a career out of pranking his brother
If you don’t know Ben Phillips already, he is the world’s most famous prankster at the moment. With over four million subscribers to his YouTube channel which has over 500 videos of him performing ‘genius’ pranks on his brother Elliot, Ben is an internet star. Always drawing up a new plan to trick his poor sibling, Ben has taken his followers along with him on his journey everyday. He is setting off on an India Tour and will be interacting with his fans in an intimate meet-and-greet session in Mumbai on February 10. We catch up with the prankster before his visit to find out more about his rise to fame.
While pranks are fun to play on others, one would hardly think that this mischievous hobby can be turned into a full-blown career. But here is Ben with about 22 million followers across various social media, as proof that even your wildest dream can come true. “I realised at a young age that my brother has a raging personality. He was angry all the time, literally 24x7. My first prank with him was when I told him that I had a magic penny and I could make it disappear if he looks closely at the centre of the bottle. When he did, I hit the bottle with both hands making the water splash on his face and he went crazy. I uploaded that video only to get billions of views across platforms and I then realised that I was on my way to becoming world’s biggest prankster and now I actually am,” says the 26-year-old.
Ben shares how pranking his brother comes from a place of love. And what makes Elliot the perfect ‘prankee’ is his temper. “He has a short fuse, like most people in this day and age do, but instead of blowing them, I let Elliot do the hard work,” he says.
Ben led a hugely successful British comedy reality entertainment programme called Ben Phillips Blows Up which followed him through his day-to-day life as he and his friends pranked his brother. His pranks haven’t got him into trouble, but instead, made him a new-age star. His fans from around the world are invested in his journey. “I’ve been invested in them since day one, and giving back to my fans is the key to my success. Laughter is universal and I provide it every day,” says he.
But it hasn’t been as easy as it seems. A successful prank takes a lot of planning, and perfect execution. Revealing the factors that are essential for a successful prank, Ben lists, “The first thing is the camera position, which has to be smartly hidden out of view. Then comes the prank idea, which must be easy and effective at the same time. Lastly, you need to find a victim — stupid and short fused.”
But while the prank is fun for the pranksters and their accomplices, it might not be such a laugh for the victim. In the era of social media where everyone wants to upload something funny on the internet, just to get a few likes, how does one exercise caution to make sure their harmless joke doesn’t turn into any kind of harassment? “With Elliot being the exception, most people laugh it off when they are pranked. It brings laughter to your day and becomes a memory you won’t forget. Since pranks are real and not virtual, it makes them priceless. Harassment is foolishness. I know getting consent isn’t an option for pranksters, but if someone is genuinely going through a hard time, you should use your common sense — a hug would be better than a prank for them,” says Ben.
The practical joker has more Facebook fans than Simon Cowell, James Corden, Rita Ora, Stormzy, Ricky Gervais, and Ant and Dec. In fact, numbers say that Ben is five times more popular than Prince Harry. “Ha! That’s crazy! I guess you don’t need a palace or royal connections after all. With just creativity, anyone can do it. You can do it reading this now,” says Ben, adding that pranks hold a special place in his life as they represent laughter, happiness and memories with his brother.
On his maiden visit to India, the prankster has planned a lot to do. “I want to meet as many people and take as many selfies as possible. I also want to admire the beautiful India that I’ve always dreamt of going to... not everything resides in a city,” he signs off.
ST Reader Service
The Meet and Greet with Ben Phillips will be held at Balgandharva Rang Mandir, Bandra, Mumbai, on February 10, at 5 pm