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by Ian Fortey
The difference between seeing a trick and being tricked is ... man, not a lot of people like being tricked. It's like being lied to, except people laugh at you for it. But every once in a while there are tricks so impressive and high profile that they deserve your mocking laughter. For instance ...
The State Senator Who Wasn't A State Senator
Have you ever seen a politician on the television moving-picture box and think, "I could do a better job than that chucklehead?" I'm pretty sure we've all thought that. And maybe that was part of the motivation behind 18-year-old Izaha Akins' little ruse when he took the place of a state senator to dupe a high school.
Akins was invited to Mohawk High School in Ohio with the understanding that he was a sitting senator. The school had actually invited real-life senator David Burke. Akins backdoored that meeting by calling the school and saying that Burke had resigned for health reasons. With him out of the way, Akins had taken over and was the youngest senator in America. Inspirational!
A little sweet talk on the phone was all it took to convince the school that Akins was legit. He bumped up what was scheduled to be a January meeting to December and arrived in style. A local Ford dealership provided a car and driver. Akins signed in to the school using his own ID, took a tour and even gave an inspiring speech to an American government class that apparently convinced even the teacher he was on the up and up.
One of these men is a true American hero.
So how did the ruse fall apart? Come January, real-life senator David Burke, who was not sidelined with even a mild rash and had not left his job, showed up for his scheduled tour. Officials hunted down Akins easily enough, since he used his actual identity to sign in, and he was charged with a felony. Whether or not Akins saw that coming is unclear, but he did manage to prove a point about the utterly craptastic security at schools.
Fake Celebrities Take The Stage At Awards Shows
Over in Prague they have something called the Czech Lion Awards, which is like the Oscars but much more Praguey. In 2015, people all around the world learned this awards show existed when Jim Carrey took the stage. There was a downside, though. That was 100% not Jim Carrey.
To be fair, this guy looked like Jim Carrey if someone just shot lime juice into your eye and then turned on a fog machine. Media ripped the awards show apart the next day for presuming to show the world Jim Carrey when in fact all we got was a toothy gentleman in a tux. But how did it ever get that far?
What the media missed and what you can see in the video by a group called The One Man Show was the elaborate lengths these guys went to for the sake of a prank. The end goal was just to see if it could be done. They faked photographs, faked calls from agents, and even faked their fake Jim Carrey's fake face. It was a masterpiece of intricate madness. And it worked. God knows how, but it worked.
Perfect. Spitting image, baby!
Fake Jim came out on stage in front of a live audience, on television, being seen around the world. He shot off confetti, waved, said not a word, then fled like an inmate after someone forgot to lock his cell.
Two years later in Germany, a fake Ryan Gosling made his way on stage for the German version of the Academy Awards to accept a trophy for his work in La La Land. It was a different group of pranksters this time, but the end result was the same: a dude who looked vaguely like the star managed to get in front of the crowd. This time the faker even made a speech, in a full German accent, that started with the words, "I'm Ryan Gosling." Which, of course, is how Ryan Gosling begins every statement he makes. The authenticity was incredible, for a collective group of dimwits, we guess.
Wait, is that Jim Carrey?!
A Comedian Fools Thousands Of People Into Thinking He's A Famous Evangelist
You may remember Joel Osteen as the megachurch pastor infamous for refusing to open his church to victims of Hurricane Harvey until the media latched onto the story and the mighty power of shame forced his doors ajar. Slightly less well known, but more fun, is the story of the time some random dude who vaguely looked like Joel Osteen just showed up at his church to get a taste of that Christ-fueled adoration.
Mike Kilmkowski was just a struggling actor and comedian in L.A. who also works days in a hotel. He's endured people telling him for years that he looks like Joel Osteen, so he decided to see if people were right. His first attempt at going full Joel was at a book release where, even as he was filming a video introduction, using his real name, people started asking him for autographs on Osteen's book. Clearly there was something to this.
In 2017, Osteen made the trip from Houston to L.A. to do an exorcism or make a bunch of fish or whatever. The venue was The Forum, a 17,000 seat arena in Los Angeles. Since it was so close to home, Klimkowski and friends figured why not try his impression on a grand scale? So he put on his Osteen suit and hit The Forum parking lot, posed for photos, blessed some strangers and tried to get himself a beer. As he made his way closer to the doors, it became clear everyone was buying it. He chatted up security and LAPD and eventually was escorted right into the building.
Now you can’t go this far and then just back out. What would Jesus do? He'd go right down to the front of the stage like Klimkowski did. There, while posing for photos, the gig became very much up. Someone on security was on to the ruse and fake Joel let Jesus take the wheel. Along with his camera crew, Klimkowski ran like the wind and, with security literally chasing him from the building, he escaped to preach another day.
The Fake Spanish Government Official
How hard do you think it is to dupe people so well that you're allowed to meet royalty? This has to be on par with faking your way into the White House, right? That's exactly what 20-year-old Francisco Nicholas Gomez-Iglesias did over in Spain when he convinced numerous people that he was either an advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister or a member of Spain's secret service. He did all this convincingly while looking like a 12-year-old Boy Scout.
You can find photos online of the man they called Little Nicholas with the former Prime Minister of Spain, as well as other members of the ruling party at social functions. There's even a photo of him with King Felipe at the King's coronation. He was arrested on charges of identity theft and fraud among others, as police tried to unravel how a kid from a middle-class family was attending a high-priced university, driving luxury cars and living in a $5,700 a month condo.
The most important 12 year old you'll ever meet.
Officials at all levels of government seem to have stories about seeing Gomez-Iglesias at events, often times in better seats than they had. He seemed to know everyone, or at least claim to know everyone, and was using that image to fleece money out of people.
Even though he was arrested in 2014, he still hasn't gone to trial on those charges, though he was recently given a psychological assessment by the courts that determined he was immature (duh?). He also managed to appear on the Spanish version of Celebrity Big Brother, so maybe it all worked out for him.
The Fake Olympic Torch Runner Who Used His Underwear To Protest Nazis
Every four years a torch is lit at Olympia in Greece, which kicks off a relay run that spans the globe before lighting the Olympic Flame at wherever the games are being hosted that year. The relay, of course, is something cooked up by the Nazis in 1936 that not a lot of people question, and as such it continues to this day. But the relevant part is that not "a lot" of people question it. Some have in the past, like the bold Australian who managed to swap the Olympic flame for his underwear.
The year was 1956, and the Olympic Torch was making its rounds through Sydney. Hundreds of runners had taken the torch across various legs of its journey through Australia, but as it made its way to Sydney's mayor, Barry Larkin decided to join, in protest of that whole Nazi thing we mentioned earlier.
Larkin was a university student, and he was not chosen to carry the torch. However, on a crowded street with onlookers waiting for the torch to arrive, Larkin just started running. He made his way toward the mayor, and in his hand was a single table leg painted silver. Atop the table leg was what had once been a can of plum pudding, and stuffed into that was a pair of kerosene-soaked undies, now proudly flaming up the Aussie countryside.
Wait, is that Jim Carrey?!
People likely noticed Larkin was a fraud when he started running, but by the time he got to the mayor, he was being cheered on and no one really had reason to be suspicious. He handed the torch to the mayor and made off like he was skipping out on the bill at a restaurant. For his part, the mayor almost bought it until he realized the silver paint was running down his hand.
Larkin escaped unnoticed into the crowd, and eventually the real torch showed up. But for a few glorious moments, flaming gotch inspired a nation.