If Scotty Tweedie has a favourite prank, it’s anything involving explosions. They’re also Prank Patrol‘s most popular stunt for boys.
“They give them a little bit of a fright and then there’s a reaction there,” says Tweedie. “But we’ve got various types of pranks, and they’re all great in their own respect. There’s ones that are goofy and singing and dancing and sillier ones. For the boys, we go for the big scary ones and the girls like the more silly, slap-yourself-in-the-face-at-the-end ones.”
TV Tonight recently tagged along for a prank and watched a dedicated, cheeky team from activeTV which is producing the series for ABC3.
“We did a great one two weeks ago on a 19 year old baby sitter, pranked by a 12 year old.
“It was game, set and match -she thought the house was haunted. If you cut out the power, any baby will sitter freak out.”
Based on a Canadian format, the show has its roots in Candid Camera, but builds up to one “gotcha” moment after giving more background to the relationship between the ‘prankster’ and ‘prankee.’
“I think kids can relate to it, everyone’s got a cheesy side and everyone’s got a friend or mum or dad they want to prank sometime in their lives.
Tweedie has been hosting the show for a little over a year now. It proved an instant hit with ABC3’s juvenile audience.
“I’m just driving it along. It’s all about the kid and whoever they want to prank, and I’m there sort of like the team captain. We’ve got a team here the ninjas, myself, professional FX and actors. So I’ll take them through what they’ll need to get for it, then we’ll go and do the prank,” he says.
“I’ve got the best gig because I get to share their reaction with their friend when they tell them they’ve been pranked and they get to see how they react to it.”
On the day of this prank a young girl was pranking her best friend during a day of ‘work experience’ at a local shoe shop. The store had been fitted out with hidden cameras, hired actors as customers and employed a make-up team to fake gross blisters and hairy feet.
Meanwhile a crew stage-managed the entire event crammed into an OB van at the rear of the shop, with a director giving instructions to his team, including lines of dialogue, as it unfolded. The Prank Patrol team literally have one shot to get it right, and has to be skilled enough to manouvre the action in response to the ‘prankee’ and their reactions. Everyone was hanging on a knife edge -had she become wise to the prank before each gag was staged?
“Luckily it doesn’t go wrong because we can manipulate it. It’s all happening live in front of us. Even though we don’t know who we’re pranking, we can pull back or go a lot harder depending on how the prank’s panning out. So throughout the prank if the kid is a tough kid we’re going to ramp it up a bit more. If they’re not handling it well we’ll pull back because the main sense is to have fun. We don’t want the kid to cry, it would be bad,” says Tweedie.
“Even shy kids if they don’t physically show the reactions on their face, we still capture that as well. They don’t have to say it, you can just see on their face.”
“Dads are always great to prank because there’s a line there where you can push a dad to a certain extent. We’ve pranked a grandma, and we’ve actually had Brian Nankervis who does RocKwiz prank his kid.
“He pranked his youngest son Henry. He conned them into pretending he had super powers and it looked unbelievable, but when he did it the way he did it, it worked a charm on those kids.”
The show has been inundated with requests from kids. It provides models of pranks which can be adapted to suit the friend they’re pranking.
“For instance we’ll get a haunted house but then we don’t know what type of ghost, what type of effect they want to do until the kid comes on the show,” Tweedie explains. “We’ve got to have some sort of plan, obviously being a TV show, but there’s a bit of an unknown till we get the kid on the show to make the prank happen.
“In the first series I was involved in the pranks. Now I can be a character but I’ve got to be totally dressed up, like in an animal suit or something totally silly.”
Whilst filming of the whopping 39 episodes takes place in Melbourne and Brisbane, the show is running an Australia-wide contest for a kid to spend time as Tweedie’s assistant.
Tweedie says he is staggered by the popularity of the show.
“When we go to signings at shopping centres and you’ve got over 1.000 kids there to see you, it’s crazy. Just walking around kids recognise you all the time, it’s something bizarre to me, I just feel like ‘I’m just like you guys, nice to meet you!'”
It’s a dream role for the young host, who still considers he is breaking into the industry. But his enthusiasm for the show is infectious.
“We’ll get all the kids” he laughs. “Every kid, every single one of them.”
Prank Patrol airs 6:30pm weekdays on ABC3.